Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Interacting with Your Peeps

It started with being "online, real time." Being on the Internet assured the latest information for you and from you. This computer science adjunct at Pace University chanted "online, real time" during the term of his course. This was in the early 1980's. Though I learned COBOL, I never quite got the meaning of it. Maybe I was somewhat of a deer blinded by the headlights of a car. The good thing is I did jump over to the other side of the highway before the car hit me.

In 2007, it's "interactivity." I got it as soon as I heard the phrase. Making a website engaging enough that people responded to it. It was more than sending an email or completing a poll, though these are first steps. Interactivity can include changing the look of a website--just for you; revealing only the information that interests you; selecting the shape of the cursor; or choosing whether the website is a static experience or dynamic one using Flash. George Clinton of Parliament Funkadelic fame gave you that choice: static or dynamic.

Level Wing Media, an interactive agency, displays its interactive capabilities as soon as you enter the home page. You choose the pages that come up on the screen. The choices cover mission, services, case studies, executive profiles and the press room. Instead of many web pages, Level Wing uses PDFs. That's sleek, minimal and fun. It's on the line of the "all about you" mentality.

For many, letting go over the brochure website is a hard thing. Time was spent getting the right photographs, color background, and text to explain who are and what you do and your added value and all the rest. I understand because my website is still brochure style. This interactivity bodes well for social cause agents. There's the reality of an eNonprofit. What does that look like? Similar to a bank's website, an eNonprofit has services to offer and they can be offered 24/7.

The eNonprofit offers downloadable city agency forms, official instructions and insider suggestions for application completion. Community calendar of events are regularly updated. FAQs responding to the departments of the organization allow people to get answers anytime of the day. This means a housing group's FAQ provides Q & A for responding to a 72-hour notice of eviction. A merchant association's FAQ explains web marketing or discounting merchandise.

If getting people out to a meeting is a challenge, then try teleconferences. Queen Afua's Heal Thyself Center has weekly City of Wellness conference calls and monthly Global Village Sacred Woman calls. There are people all over the country are "bridging onto" the calls.

The key issue is seeing that you need to change how you communicate and, then, being willing to do a couple of changes. Sometimes the headlights keep us blind, so blink.

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