Is the corporate website still relevant?

A lot has been written recently about the demise of the corporate website with the emergence of social media. The argument basically says that the corporate site as it is currently defined is quickly become irrelevant. So how is a corporate website currently defined? I would say its basically defined as an on-line brochure. It usually has some nice colors, a collection of stock photos of smiling people that look really smart and somewhat fashionable, and some well thought out copy that attempts to put the company in the best light possible.

Social media, on the other hand, is made up of user, or customer, created content. So its easy to see why an increase in the popularity of social media would cause a demise in the above defined corporate website. But I would argue that no matter how popular social media becomes, the corporate site will always play a significant role for service companies. Here is why.

I would liken the corporate website of a service company to the packaging of a product. Does the packaging of a product really have any relevance to what’s inside? Not really. If you buy an iPod in a Zune box, you still get an iPod. The packaging really doesn’t matter with regards to the actual product. It may influence your perception of the product, just as a website might influence your perception of the service a company would provide. But do either one really determine how satisfied you will be with your purchase? Not really. Do they influence customer decision making? Absolutely. There is something about the human psyche that is influenced by an external facade.

So while a corporate website may seem to be increasingly unimportant to us on the inside, I would say that it will always hold a fair amount of relevance to those on the outside. Just as the packaging of a product will always have relevance to those that are purchasing a product.

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6 Responses

  1. Jeff I agree with your points but I encourage all of my Corporate Clients to embrace the blogging world and join the conversation, turning the online brochure website into the voice of the company.

  2. An intelligent approach to blogging is so important, especially for service companies.

    Figuring out how to integrate the old “online brochure” website with the new social media pieces seems to be a common challenge I hear often. It sounds like its a challenge you probably deal with on a daily basis.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I think the corporate website is irrelevant relative to everything else. It’s not irrelevant in a way that you can do without it. It’s like air. You don’t think much about it, it doesn’t influence anything that you do on a day to day basis, but it needs to be there.

    Much like the iPod’s or iPhone’s popularity isn’t because of Apple’s website or the box that it comes in. They are popular because of the buzz that users have created around it. And that’s exactly what social media is trying to capture, and why, compared to it, the corporate website seems quite irrelevant.

  4. Lisa,
    I’m willing to bet you still own all the boxes of every Apple product you have purchased. I’d also be willing to bet that you haven’t kept the boxes for many of the other products in your home.

    My feeling is that exceptional packaging, just like an exceptional corporate website, are underrated as to the influence they have over consumers. The product or service is definitely king, but the fluff around it still plays a significant role.

  5. Kick-ass article, great looking weblog, added it to my favs.

    • Glad you found the article “kick-ass”. Hopefully there are a few other tidbits here that you might find useful. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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