Does the Microsite Model Still Work?

18Feb08

Microsites are a good landing page for a new campaign, but… consider this:

My gen Y counterparts are on so many networks these days. It seems odd to say to us that…

1. You’d like us to engage with your brand

2. We have to come to your site to do so (why not come to us in our space of choice)

3. When we come to your site, our conversation is limited to your discussion topic (i.e. your brand or campaign). Let’s think about this in terms of basic relationships; how much would you hang around a friend who only talked or let you talk about his/her topic of choice?

If your campaign is cool enough, this will work for a period of time; but after a while, we’re headed back to our own networks where we can talk freely with friends about our topic of choice.

The past few years of digital marketing focused on building a cool site or app to capture and focus our attention; the next few years will be led by the brands that can do a great job of jumping into existing communities and offering enough value to stay relevant and popular in those spaces.

With the amount of money spent developing these flashy sites, you could invest that in sourcing and offering the kind of content we like, sponsoring media we already enjoy, seeding us an actual sample of the product you’d like us to try or hiring a cool person or team focused on building a real relationship with us.

Thoughts?

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5 Responses to “Does the Microsite Model Still Work?”

  1. I am with you, but I do think that microsites still have some purpose. Are they the right choice all the time? Of course not.

    For major consumer brands looking to do low-level community outreach to their “fans”, heading into Facebook/Myspace is the clear choice.

    When you are looking for that extra level of interactivity and focused conversation to brand “evangelists”, microsites and niche communities often make a lot more sense. After all, that is why sites like Ning and Meetup.com are doing pretty well, right? If Facebook and MySpace served the needs that these sites address, they wouldn’t exist.

    Then again, who says it has to be just one or the other?

  2. I agree with you -I don’t see the point of micro-sites. Interestingly, I’ve been having this discussion with people at work for a few weeks now. What happens once a campaign is over and you are starting a new one? all the energy and money spent into driving crowds to micro-site A will now be re-spent in driving them to micro-site B?
    Doesn’t make sense!

  3. 3 Michael

    Amanda,

    I really like point three. I agree it’s the case that, while we do want to talk about brands, we want to be able to converse on our terms and not be limited to venues or topics (ie. the brand alone).

    So, do you think there is a way for companies to facilitate the discussion so that the branding is there, but not overbearing, as you say, like a friend who talks about him/herself nonstop?

    Do you think this could apply, for example, to lightly-branded viral videos? The discussion is there, but doesn’t seem dominated by the organization’s interests–it might complement them though.

  4. “With the amount of money spent developing these flashy sites, you could invest that in sourcing and offering the kind of content we like …”

    I think there’s a difference between a very basic, low-investment, super-content-specific microsite and some flashy Web site about a product or brand.

    It’s all about ROI. Spend a ton of cash on a flashy site for a few leads/prospects/customers, etc., and it’s obviously not worth it from a ROI point of view.

    I think the real issue with many of these mircosites is that they are merely advertisements pretending to be useful content. Most consumers are savvy enough to know the difference.

    I use at my real estate company several two-page (one page of content and a sign-up page) Web sites that are community specific to generate leads interested in buying homes in those specific communities.

    The Web sites have been very effective, and our clients primarily are first-time home buyers in their 20s and early 30s.

  5. Well, I think that you are correct in context of the conversation needs to be about the user. However, many/most microsites, including subservient chicken, are not meant for dialogue. They are for interaction and brand awareness. The ROI is huge compared to a newspaper add. If you spend more than 20 seconds on the BK site, you are getting more brand awareness than non-interactive media. Could they have given away product or talked about the BK brand on a social network instead? Of course – but would that be memorable and have the ‘gotta email everyone about this’ effect? No.
    A microsite needs to be part of a larger campaign – one that involves the corporations employing the right people to reach out and start the conversation on social networks… those conversations should develop converts who then go to the microsite and spend 5, 10, 20 minutes and close the deal. Or you develop really good ideas and let the public promote it for you. ‘Run into the wall, chicken!’



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