Tuesday, June 09, 2015

What is a Strong Web Presence and Why You Might Need It

With today's expectant parents learning a vast amount of information from the web, it may be important to you in your segment of the birth profession to have a strong web presence.  But what exactly is a web presence and how do you achieve or strengthen one?
A web presence is defined on Wikipedia as being "the appearance of a person or organization on the World Wide Web." And "the amount of web presence can be measured in the amount of sites a organization or individual has, which can include their own website, social network profiles, and their site's search engine ranking, traffic, popularity, and backlinks.
Having a presence on the web is more than updating Facebook or sending out an occasional Tweet. And it is more than Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Its about who you are, where you are on the web, how evidence-based your content is and how it relates to the birth profession.
When I first built www.birthsource.com back in 1999, the very first thing that I did was complement others on their web design or content and ask for backlinks.  This immediately increased the traffic to the Birthsource and increased the popularity.
Step two in building a presence was to have the most up-to-date evidence based information to both parents and professionals.  I wanted a website that served both demographics - educating the educator and the expectant parent.  Simultaneously to this was my work at doula and childbirth education training.  Due to the requests for certain teaching tools from the workshop attendees, the online store was born in 2001.
In 2007, I decided to try blogging and became slightly addicted!  So in that year, Childbirth Today (the blog you are reading now), was created to give a different view on information, share new or interesting videos and invite guest writers to try their hand at blogging.
After teaching one of the best childbirth classes of my career in 2008, the next step in web presence came along: A second website.  I say that this was one of the best classes because the dynamics of the class and the personality of the attendees was so amazing that I am still in touch with most of the class members.  I am now watching most of these "babies" entering kindergarten, thanks to Facebook!  But I digress.  The new website was really at the request of one expectant mom in the class.  She was frustrated because there was not a straightforward website with research information.  The Birth Facts came online in late 2008.
After exhibiting at conferences for nearly 10 years, I joined Facebook also in 2008.  Posting a blend of personal quirkiness (my love of grande decaf peppermint mochas and adventures with my family) and evidence-based women's health news stories, Facebook has been a vital step in a strong web presence.  Add to that a Facebook account for my business, a Twitter account (@birthsourcecom), LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and the use of memes, I have expanded my reach to expectant parents and professionals exponentially. 
Some companies have a person specifically assigned to the duty of managing a web presence the web presence manager. Because I'd rather do this job myself, I enlisted the aid of my laptop, iPhone and iPad to achieve these goals:
Friends on Facebook: (to date) 2912
Followed by on Twitter: 1959 with 4,987 Tweets made
Estimated visitors per week to blog: 500-800
Visitors per week to Birthsource website: 1000
Embracing technology has enabled me to teach more individuals than I ever could in a classroom.  Reaching out on social media not only means introducing new concepts, but also reinforcing the validity of established concepts.  To quote Phyllis Klaus, we must "meet the mother where she is and take her where she wants to go".  And what better way to help her get to her goals than via social media?

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