In preparation for WordCamp Whistler 09 I threw together a website for my sister-in-law Anny Chih to support her application for the Best Job in the World. Today she found out her application is one of the 50 shortlisted from close to 35,000 videos submitted. Of course this is mostly due to the video Angela and I made for her but it also shows that a sound social media strategy will pay off in the long run.
When we made the website we had three main goals in mind:
- Strong search engine presence (a.k.a. SEO a.k.a. Search Engine Optimization)
- Striking appearance – no matter what people say, having a website that looks good increases the chances of people actually visiting and reading what’s on it
- Harness the power of social media
Search Engine Optimization is Snake Oil – Just use WordPress and you’re good to go!
The first point was a simple one. As I’ve said before and will repeat here, using WordPress as the base for your site pretty much guarantees good and relevant SEO right out of the box. And when coupled with the All-In-One SEO Pack plugin it is a veritable SEO powerhouse. The goal was to get the site to the top of Google searches for “best job in the world” and “vancouver” and that was achieved with minimal effort. I have to stress here that we did not do any SEO tricks or link pimping or anything along those lines: The site ranking is solely based on good coding and well written copy.
Design with the target audience in mind and people will flock to your site
The second point is always where people get stuck. And I’m no exception. But fortunately for me Anny had a very specific look in mind and with that and some of her sketches as a base it wasn’t all that hard to come up with an overall look. You can read more about the design process in this earlier post. What’s important to note here is that the entire site design was built around quick load times, semantic code and easy editability. It was built on the Typograph core and uses clean text for all its functions. I also spent a lot of time organizing the layout in such a way that it would be easy to understand and navigate for the visitors. At the end I was so happy with the overall design that I used the root of it to design my newest project StopLivingInThePast.com.
Twitter – when used correctly – can be a powerful tool
The third and final point was my first real experiment with social media. I added a Twitter box to my sidebar a while ago and it has generated both interest and a lot of followers but I never really sat down and tried to use Twitter actively to gather interest for anything (basically because I never had anything I wanted to gather interest for). With the creation of AnnyChih.com Anny and I discussed ways to build interest for her site and her application and Twitter seemed an obvious addition. So with her handle @AnnyChih she started Tweeting actively, at first by mooching off my followers and then quickly expanding to other IslandReefJob applicants and so on and so forth. And in a week or so without any deliberate campaign to build numbers she had gained a high number of followers that were actually interested in what she had to say.
In addition Anny went beyond Twitter to interact with other applicants on sites dedicated to the job search and was able to build quite a following there as well. The trick on both Twitter, in forums and in blog comments was to present a mix of funny commentary, helpful advice and information. And by providing more than just blatant self promotion and random noise she built a solid following over just a few weeks.
Just how solid didn’t really become apparent to us until the news broke earlier today that she had been shortlisted. In a matter of minutes she was getting Tweets and comments of support from all over the place and TV and radio stations were calling her for interviews. In short order she was featured on CBCs The National, Virgin Radio’s The Rush, ABC Brisbane’s All-Day Breakfast and the Afternoon Buzz on Talk 1410AM largely because the Twitter community was able to get the word out.
So what should you get out of this long self-congratulating piece? That WordPress is a great place to start if you want your site to not only work but to get noticed, that by spending some time considering your target audience and designing your sites around them you can build a larger audience and that social media, when used correctly, can greatly enhance your brand and your reach.
Now go vote!
Finally I’d just like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Anny and ask instruct everyone to vote now and vote often (you can vote once per day from as many email addresses as you can get a hold of).