A conversation overheard on Twitter on Saturday, March 28:
Aaron Manfull: Liking how the Post-Dispatch gives major play to STLtoday.com in the print nameplate. High schools w/web sites need to be doing this too.
Jill Chittum: @manfull We JUST talked about that yesterday in newspaper. We think it’s time to put our URL in the flag.
Aaron Manfull: @chitknit Mine had it large last year, toned it WAY down this year. Not sure what they’ll do next year. Know what I’ll be preaching though.
This short conversation raises a big issue for scholastic Web publications, and publications in general: Namely, now that you’ve got an online presence, how do you draw readers to your site? After all, the “Field of Dreams” reference (“If you build it, they will come.”) doesn’t always work. You’ve got to do a little to promote your site.
So, some tips to help market your Web site once you’ve got it up and running:
- Use your Web site’s capabilities. The Web is far more versatile than a print publication. Got more photos? Make a slideshow. Want people to weigh in on an issue? Online comments can work. Want to make an interactive graphic? Then the Web’s the place to go. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the Internet.
- Promote the site. A Web site isn’t much good if nobody knows it’s there. Do everything you can to let readers know about your online presence. If you’ve still got a print publication, then put references to your Web site all over the place. Send out Facebook memos to your friends when new items appear on the site. Start a Twitter account to alert readers to new
- See if you can convince your administration to make your news Web site the default location on school computers when they log on to the Internet. Got computer labs? Computers in the media center? The why not make your news site the home page? If the idea behind your student news site is to provide information for your student readers, then exposure to that information is key.
- Stage Web-only events and promote the heck out of them. Got a slideshow of photos after the State football championship? Are you going to host an online chat during the Presidential election? Then get the word out. Your readers need to know the news site is there for them, and they need to know it’s useful and interactive.
And FYI: If you use issuu.com to put PDFs of your publication online, those URLs (Web site addresses) you put in the publication are actually interactive. Readers can click on those addresses and link to the Web sites you mention.