By John Hernandez
RISMEDIA, Dec. 4, 2007-Hundreds, if not thousands of Web sites are launched on the Internet practically on a daily basis, each looking to become the next YouTube or Myspace or any one of those Web sites that people visit every day.
Offering compelling content isn’t difficult, the true art is in using a mix of current and tried and true trends to ensure it stays fresh and entices a user to come back time and again. Otherwise there’s the risk of becoming a promising business that ultimately falls by the wayside, a fate that many promising Web sites have unnecessarily undergone.
There’s no proven scientific method when it comes to getting people onto your site, it’s a matter of employing what’s commonly referred to as “sticky content,” basically any element intended to grab user attention and encourage them to make a repeat visit. How can you make sticky content stickier? It’s a lot simpler than what you might be thinking.
True, the Internet’s primary purpose is to disseminate information and ease communication. However, you can’t really get away with simply posting this information on a page and expect to generate steady traffic, at least not in the Internet of today.
You’ve probably read a lot about and may have even seen one of these “viral videos,” those brief snippets of moments captured on tape that become office water cooler discussion, especially if you’re a frequent visitor to YouTube or any of those video sharing Web sites.
The point here is not to become a video sharing site but to consider using videos as a complement to whatever it is your Web site is about. If you’re a Realtor, consider how much you could stand out if you were to post videos of the local activity near a property you’re trying to sell or maybe interviews by residents who already live there. Not only does it give your Web site its own unique identity, it gives people an incentive to come back.
Even games can produce dramatic results. There’s a Web site created with the traditional purpose of feeding the hungry but it goes off the beaten path and instead presents itself as an addictive word game, this a perfect example of a common Web site that has become its own sticky content. What if you were to offer a real estate trivia section? Random questions about the industry in which a score is tallied that gives the user a lighthearted title when they’re done? Better yet, what if you went the extra mile and let them add an image of their ‘accomplishment’ to their personal homepage or social network profile?
Surely you’ve come across some Flash during your Web browsing. Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, using Flash judiciously can mask any potential shortcomings a Web site may have if you use it as an effective complement.
Sprinkling animation astutely livens up your content. How could you use this as a Realtor? If you keep a record of recent sales on your Web site, you can make this section twice as appealing by displaying sold listings through an animated display which will certainly increase the chances of a former or future client consulting you again because they felt more engaged than they did with the competition. If you were to take it a step further and say, allow people to share these images easily with others, not only do you have ‘sticky content’, you’ve also dipped your toes into the popular realm of social media.
For the most part, the Internet is a solo activity but, with the advent of social media, it has burgeoned into a large communal electronic medium. People love to voice their opinion; just drop by any social bookmarking site and you’ll find long chains of discussion, each with varying degrees of quality.
You probably already know about discussion forums, they’re practically ubiquitous. How could you go beyond this in terms of tailoring it to your own endeavors? Imagine building a real estate community that reaches across the globe. How so? What if you could allow multiple persons who happen to be on your Web site at the same time to communicate? You transcend the communication barriers and now your entire Web site becomes one giant chat room filled with like-minded people who come from various parts of the country and perhaps even the world. Employing some form of regulation, whether it be through human moderators or some kind of filtering software, adds the finishing touch to a tremendously valuable tool.
The possibilities that fall under sticky content are limited only by your resolve, imagination and how much time you’re willing to put into differentiating yourself from the scads of Web sites all competing for your clients. New tools emerge regularly; the key is using them and giving them your own inimitable twist to attract your own target fan base.