Having previously discussed if a club actually needs a website and looked at how they use their websites, it may be of interest to actually ask a club’s opinion.
Even though club’s have similar needs such as advertising upcoming events, communicating with existng and potential members, etc., their website is a place where the personality of the club becomes evident. Some focus exclusively on the technical aspects of a vehicle and provide access to advice and spares, while others are purely social in nature.
One club which sucessfully mixes both approaches is the Irish Model T Ford Club based in Cork, Ireland. Their website is central to their approach in communicating with members. We asked William Cuddy, Honorary Secretary for his thoughts…
What is the history of the club website?
The Irish Model T Ford Club was founded in 1990 by a small group of individuals who were Model T owners. About five years ago we were fortunate in getting in contact with Michael Beeney (of Flivver Online) who introduced us to a wonderful new system for us of web management.
It was just a matter of getting familiar with WordPress. After a day of tuition we embraced the project with enthusiasm. In practice, we keep the news section open as our communication channel to our members. After each event, and on a monthly basis, text and photographs are uploaded, thus making our site predominately social.
What are the main uses of the website?
The main thrust of our endeavour is to keep members informed and interested in our club. To make this happen we introduced two scale fees for annual membership. Those on snail mail communication are expected to pay twenty euro per annum.
Those who accept email communication are charged ten euro per annum. Needless to mention we have no snail mail members. Accordingly the traffic peaks after each event where members log in for news and views. A secondary useful feature for our members is the calendar of events which we keep up to date.
What website features are useful to the club?
The main features we seem to enjoy are the news items and the calendar. We would dearly like to explore the many other features of the website but in practical terms this will not happen on a trial and error basis. What is needed is tuition and we are hopeful that some time we will be able to attend a course on WordPress and heighten our knowledge.
Communication with members stands head and shoulders above everything else. Members can tune in and see that we are an active club and are willing to share our resources with all and sundry. Most important of all is the cost of administration is minimised. Letters by post are too time-consuming and envelopes and postage stamps are costly.
None whatsoever so long as there is someone in the background ready and willing to keep the website alive.
How do you encourage members to use the website?
Our members now have little choice in the matter. If they want to engage with their club they must make the effort and log on. However, they do get a prompt! Each time something new is uploaded, they all get an email via Outlook. I would hope to learn how to do this direct.
Does the club use social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook)?
Maybe if we can get someone to take on Facebook we would give it a go. Right now I am not sure whether WordPress facilitates Facebook.
Overall, do you think having a website is helpful to clubs?
Very much so, no question or doubt about this. The members really love logging in and as a special bonus they may see a picture of their car or themselves which they can share with family and friends.
What advice would you give to other clubs?
Go for it! Get in contact with Michael Beeney of Flivver Online who is so generous with his time and advice. Your club will grow in quality and commitment.
What would you like to achieve with the website in the future?
We would like to set up a database of members where we could keep their general particulars and email details. Letters generated could be sent out by email as reminders of events, cashing up subscriptions and general communications. Linking into social media would be an advantage but for us right now this will not happen until we receive training.
Have there been any unexpected outcomes being online?
What amazes me is the number of visitors to our website. For example, there is an Australian couple coming to Ireland in mid May 2016 who are Model T owners and would love to meet members and see their cars. We have invited them to our May Day event where they will be received by our members with acclaim.
Many an enquiry has come from abroad and within Ireland from people who have an interest in times past and try to ascertain whether we know of a car which a family member had two or three generations ago. So far all questions have been answered positively. This is great for those enquiring and gives satisfaction to our members.
Article originally published by ClubWorks [April 2016]
Main Image Credit: Irish Model T Ford Club
Editors Note: We thank Mr Cuddy for answering our questions and for his praise. The Irish Model T Ford Club was one of the inspirations for the Flivver Online project which was partly formed through helping a few classic car clubs and private collections set up and improve their websites; and the need to share advice and information about website management and promotion. Check out our Portfolio to see our work