Engagement, not page views, key to online success

Organizations that gauge the success of their Web sites based on the number of clicks are missing the real value of the Internet, according to the founder of Monster.com.

Jeffrey Taylor, who started the career management Web site in 1994, says the best measure of online success is not "eyeballs" but "engagement." With the advent of social networking technology, companies and agencies have an unprecedented ability to get feedback on services from customers or constituents.

Rather than sell a user base on a concept, an organization can involve them in the process of developing ideas, whether for a product or a new mission.

"Most of your agencies have a marketing strategy, but do you have a relationship strategy?" said Taylor, speaking at the 2008 Knowledge Management conference, which is sponsored by the 1105 Government Information Group, the parent company of FCW.com.

During the first heyday of the Internet, Web sites featured static content, often referred to as "brochureware," and e-commerce, said Taylor. In that Web 1.0 environment, page views or transactions were good indicators of a site's popularity, but that is less so now.

Brochureware has given way to "ugen," that is, user-generated content. Web 2.0 applications, such as blogs, enable an organization to incorporate user feedback on its site. Whereas Web 1.0 was about site traffic, "Web 2.0 is about communities," Taylor said.

Taylor, who retired from Monster.com in 2005, is founder and chief executive officer of EONS, a social networking site aimed at the Baby Boomer generation.

Taylor said he started this venture when he realized baby boomers were beginning to realize the benefits of social networking technology, but wanted a place tailored to their interests. The site includes user groups built around such topics as money and careers, travel and cooking.

The entry of baby boomers into the Web 2.0 also has implications for the workforce, Taylor said. For the first time, organizations have three generations of employees who are Web savvy. "This is where we actually change the way we work," rather than doing Web applications "here and there," he said.

To realize the full benefits of that of that transition, organizational leaders must learn to think in longer time frames, Taylor said.

Most leaders develop "first curve" strategies -- those that address the opportunities and challenges an organization will face in the next 12 to 18 months. "But you better be looking 18 to 24 months out" and working on "second curve" strategies, Taylor said.

And the focus of those strategies also must change. Most leaders spend their time thinking about how to change organizational and business processes. Those processes are important, but second curve strategies should also account for how technology changes an organization's engagement with its customers or constituents, Taylor said.

"It really is all about people," he said.

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications: civic.com, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.

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