Thursday, September 1, 2011

Do We Need the Web (Site)

I'm pretty sure I've written on this concept before: Given the unlimited free storage space offered by the likes of YouTube, Facebook, and other social media sites, does an up-and-coming, ahem, social media "website" like Uncharted really need a website?

I ask this because, at the moment, our website is behaving as coherently as HAL does right before he sends that pod crashing into Frank Poole. Our photo uploader works only sporadically and you have to take its workings on faith, as it'll say it hasn't saved your photos when indeed it has. The story module isn't working at all.

So, enter the message I sent to fellow Uncharted folks tonight:
Hello Folks of Uncharted.

Alan and I had a good conversation the other night about keeping things going with Uncharted as we're dealing with certain site instabilities and other technical challenges that is making updating the site difficult or downright impossible at the moment. Going dark, without other options for our Explorers or more information to them seems to be the wrong way to go.

I've been thinking about this situation (photo uploader working sporadically, story uploader not working at all (which Alan tells me is due to our slice on the server being reduced as we're funneling money elsewhere)) and think we can use our social media options to publish content and keep our Explorers happy and informed. Here's what I'd like to do:

On the blog, we need ASAP a post explaining in brief, non-technical terms, why the site is having difficulties and what we're doing to fix it. I can write it, but, Sarge, I'd like to hear from you your opinion on, as Alan put it, "how pathetic should we sound" as we explain our difficulties. Once the post is ready, I'd like to see it on the blog, on our Facebook page and linked via a slide or banner on the main site, so people visiting will know what's going on. Linking blog posts in this manner is something I'd like to start doing on the main site anyway.

Facebook/Twitter. Here, we take advantage of our follower base to publish and/or promote content that for some reason or other we're not able to upload to our site. I know this isn't optimal in driving traffic to our main site, but as it is now with the story module out of commission, we're limited on what the main site can do for us anyway.

As an example, Jen Skoy has published a blog post about an upcoming Oktoberfest celebration in Oregon. She's got good information and photos on her blog. We can easily link to that information via Facebook, promote it on our various social media outlets, and keep the momentum going with our Explorers. John has got a great piece on learning Kung Fu while in China, and Michelle and I have got some stuff cooking and also ready to go. As we can still (most of the time) publish photos on the main site, we keep doing that, while moving stories to the blog for the moment until we can get the story module working again. All of that can be promoted via social media as well.

I'd like to hear other thoughts and input on this. Jen Skoy's story is timely as the festival begins in early September, so moving quickly on this aspect of it is of interest to us.
I think for a stopgap measure, this'll work just fine. But part of me still wonders if we couldn't get away with this the whole time, saving ourselves lots of time and money. Yeah, these sites aren't customizable, and we can't claim eyeballs for advertising, but do we really need to claim eyeballs for advertising? Let Facebook get the paltry clicks from our folks as we're building a community and making money in other ways . . .

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