I’ve done a bit of research on Internet use and social networking lately, hoping to back up the opinion that “everyone” uses these seemingly ubiquitous technologies on a daily basis.
Some of the statistics I found do, indeed, support such beliefs. PewInternet.org (Pew Internet & American Life Project) is a research site that posts comprehensive user data — for example, gender, age, race/ethnicity, education, household income and urbanity — and it updates the information as it becomes available.
In an August 2012 survey of 2,253 American adults, Pew found that 83 percent “use the Internet, at least occasionally.” And in December 2012, its research discovered that 67 percent of those users also use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
The chamber’s Board of Directors could see things evolving at this unbelievable pace and added a Web committee in 2009 to ensure we’re keeping up with our members’ demands for a user-friendly, chamber-sanctioned site. The committee’s first task was to create a new, interactive website, which launched in November 2011.
Since that time, many of our members have created their own profiles at www.gigharborchamber.net and use them to communicate with other members, and with their own clients and customers.
Now the rest of the community is discovering what the membership has long known: we’ve been on a steady development path to improve access and usability for our members and to provide the entire community easy access to information about our member businesses and the business community.
Some of our most useful and unique features include business profile tools, video content and group creation all wrapped up in a website built for tablet, smartphone and large-screen use.
Here are a few details about each of these as described by our Web committee chairman, Alan Jones:
• Member profiles are very comprehensive, simple-to-manage, media- and social-rich portals for brand communication. They include a variety of communication options: instant messaging, professional connection management, video, social media integration and member discount alerts.
Our members are searchable by categories and keywords that they choose themselves, as well as by individual and/or business names.
• Video has become a very important tool for chamber staff members. We interview speakers and event hosts before events to give the community a picture of the kinds of topics we cover and the kinds of networking opportunities we offer.
Each member profile also has a video spot where they can share YouTube, Vimeo or other hosted videos. That makes for a very powerful business-marketing tool.
• Groups, which can be private or open to the entire website-viewing community, are business communities within our website. Committees and members alike can create, manage and participate in group discussions and other forms of communication.
Each group has a “wall” where members can post messages, videos, events, photos and share files with one another. Members are notified on the website and by email when a new post is ready to view.
• Our responsive-design website is built to be both comfortable and intuitive on any web-enabled mobile device, delivering feature-rich function for our community.
Although much has been accomplished already, we have great plans for future development. For instance, we’re in the beginning stages of building new Internship Job Board and Job Shadow pages where we hope to facilitate interaction between chamber members and college and high school students.
New opportunities through continued development and partnerships with higher education groups will benefit our members, help our community and foster chamber integration in our future workforce.
Our community continues to grow through our website and through many opportunities for interpersonal contact, volunteer opportunities and networking. I invite you to visit gigharborchamber.net to see the member directory and our other new additions.Warren Zimmerman is the president and CEO of the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, which is located at 3125 Judson St. in Gig Harbor. For more information, call 253-851-6865 or visit www.gigharborchamber.com.