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TOPIC: Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website

Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66965

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Hi Free ToastHost Admins,
First of all, I want to thank the Free ToastHost team for providing the free website hosting platform. Not only the hosting is free but the framework is so easy to use. I was able to put up our site in less than an hour. In just one month my club has a working site. It was also helpful that our members contribute a lot of articles to our site. Thanks so much to your team.

I want to get your advice on how I can still improve our site. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much again to everyone.

Kind regards,
Anne Macalintal
VP Education & Club Website Administrator
Club No: 1204168
Club Name: Metro South Alabang Toastmaster Club
Website: metrosouthalabang.toastmastersclubs.org/

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66968

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Anne,

Kudos to you for your service to your club.

I did look at your website... You know, we see many club websites. Some are very flashy, but when we look closer, there is not much interesting content in the website. However, your website is actually the exact opposite. B)

OMG! You have have so much original, interesting content that I was totally inspired and blown away! :cheer: :thumbsup:
( I do not say that often, either. ;) )

Now, here is the thing... when I first visited your website, I was not immediately impressed. I only got really excited when I started looking at your incredible content. This is a clue to where the opportunities for improvement lie.

Your website ls like an incredible Christmas gift, but it has been put into some slightly bland "packaging". My recommendations are to work on the "packaging"... Work on the color scheme and show it more, do a website background, and put more promotional text content on your home page.

My specifics:

1. Your video on your home page is just incredible. I was so inspired by it. I cannot imagine how much time you must have put into it, but really, really great job. :thumbsup:

2. However, you must remember that not everyone will take the time to watch the video on your home page. How will your club also appeal to them? This is why you must have some additional content, text and a few pictures, on your home page, also. Remember that what people will see first on your website is your home page, and especially the part that shows without scrolling ("above the fold"). You need to get people interested in your club by allowing them to just quickly glance at your home page and see something that catches their attention and makes them want to watch the video and go look at your wonderful content.

If you did not have the video on your home page, how would you grab the viewer's attention and make them want to look at other content on your website? The home page video is *wonderful*, but do not rely strictly on that.

3. Do more with background colors... just make sure they are not too bright/intense. (less is more) It looks like your main palette is red, blue, and yellow, so work with light shades of those so that you do not overpower your content. (I do see that you are using a background color on the menu... just do more of that and use different colors.)

4. Again, your website content is *wonderful*. So much originality: love the home page video, "A Message From Our Club President", "Our Club Theme of the Month", "Club Experience", "DTM Corner", "My Toastmasters Journey", "Featured Speech of the Month", "Toastmaster Education Corner", "Be A Toastmaster for One Day!, etc. OMG! I may "borrow" some of your ideas... they are so good! :thumbsup:

5. Meeting info page -- Good! You have a nice meeting space photo, you have text, and you have a map. I suggest also adding an exterior photo of the building (e.g. show the entrance) if that would help first time visitors find your building and entrance.

6. Meet Our Members (MOM page) - Your MOM page is great, you have all your officers and you are showing bios for them. I suggest also showing one or two members who are not officers so people see that you also have regular members.

7. I see that you are using the Club Calendar also. :)

8. Nice newsletter!!! :thumbsup:
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66970

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Hi, Anne!!!

I agree with Steve that you've produced really excellent content and now just need to make it more obvious to the casual visitor. The video is wonderful, and the content on the other pages is top-notch, not only in the information it gives, but in its crisp and enthusiastic writing. I suspect it's all gone through many rewrites, until the writing sparkles. Your Facebook page is also a joy to read. I've never met any of you, but I feel that I like you all, a lot. That's exactly what you'd want a potential visitor to feel.

Consider though that many visitors will not take the time to search your site for the gems you've included inside it. Estimates vary, but some studies suggest that a lot of visitors only spend seconds looking at a home page before deciding to leave or to look further. It's a scary thought.

Consider too that many people don't know what Toastmasters is, so in a matter of seconds, we all need to let the visitor know what we are, what we can do for them, and why they shouldn't leave our site and browse somewhere else. It's quite a problem. The good news is that you've already solved most of it, though it's hidden.

This is just a thought, but if you put the main paragraph in your "Be A Toastmaster for One Day!" page at the very top of your home page, it would not only do most everything you need, it would do it brilliantly! That paragraph is the kind of thing that will catch a visitor's attention on their first glance at your site. It's warm, inviting, informative, and enthusiastic. Consider making it the first thing they see.

However, you wouldn't want to have two copies of the same text on your site; Google frowns on duplicated content, and might reduce your ranking. You'd want to put some different text on the "Be A Toastmaster for One Day!" page.

You might consider adding (perhaps below the video) where and when you meet, the fact that they're welcome to visit, and perhaps make them comfortable with assurance that they can observe quietly or join in, if they wish. (Some might worry that they'll be put on the spot.)

The "Featured Speech of the Month" page is a fine idea, and I might suggest that when you switch to a new featured speech, that you keep some of the old ones, on a sub-page below this one. This would be especially useful if it contains material that is inspiring, or relates to speaking or Toastmasters, in general. A growing body of content that relates to the rest of your site is of particular interest to Google. It shows an active and growing site, and improves your ranking. And since you're already putting speeches on your site, you get it almost for free.

You've done well; keep at it...

Wes B.
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66971

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Dear Steve and Wes,

OMG!!! Thanks so much Steve and Wes for that so fast and heartwarming feedback. I will definitely take a look again at our website and plan on how I can incorporate all your feedback. It definitely helps to have an expert advise, your point-of-view is great. Your comments made my day and it took all my tiredness away:).

I will plan for these changes and update the site. I have a question though, I intentionally did not put so many photos (we have a lot super nice, inspiring photos) because I don't want to burden your server. So I put photos on our Facebook page. I'm also posting on our FB page that complements our website back-to-back. Please let me know if this is fine, I can upload a few photos of our club in action. I have so much stuff and content. There's like a ton of backlog on my mind on how to put it out. I just need to organize it so I don't overwhelm the website visitors.

Again thanks so much, I will share your feedback with the rest of our club members. This is a very nice Christmas gift from both of you.

Warm regards,
Anne

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66972

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While there is a way to include too many photos, you'd really (really!!) have to work at it, and you sound too polite to cause any problems.

Visitors want to visualize themselves succeeding at public speaking, so since you have plenty, consider some pictures that show people succeeding. If they appear enthusiastic at the lectern, or if the audience appears to be laughing or leaning in, that's all good. On Facebook, you show yourselves to be a vital, happy, and fun club. Show it on your site; it's gold.

A few pictures per page won't overwhelm; they'll make the page interesting enough to read the text (which as we've said, is pretty good). If you resize each picture to about 600 pixels wide, they'll load quickly and won't take up much space, to boot.

When you put the photos in, you have the opportunity to add alternative text to the picture. This doesn't appear on the site, though vision impaired people will hear the description, and Google checks it for the kinds of keywords that will bring people to your site. Fill the description with wording that relates to public speaking, succeeding, growth, etc.

Glad to give you a nice gift (you've given us one, as well).

Merry Christmas...

Wes B.
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66973

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Photos are basically fine--do not be too concerned about them. If you are concerned about them taking up too much screen space on your website, then set up a slide show photo viewer like many clubs do. That lets people see the photos but does not take up too much screen space.

Videos are what we typically want you to store on YouTube or somewhere not on our server, because videos impact our server performance when people view them. As long as you locate videos on YouTube or somewhere other than our server, then you can just put a YouTube iframe in your content (like you did on your home page), and play them back that way. The video iframe itself is stored on our server, but the actual playing back of the video is done by where the video is stored (e.g. YouTube). This is why we are fine with you doing videos on your website as long as you do not store the videos on the FreeToastHost server.

You are correct that you have to think strategically about adding content so that it does not become overwhelming to your website visitors.

But you must keep in mind that your Home page is what people will see *first*, so spending a bit of time thinking about how to add interesting content there without overwhelming people is worth it. Your video on your home page is great, but you should also add some things to that in your home page.

One idea you may try is to embed some links in your home page content to your already great content located elsewhere on your site.

In other works, think of some ways to make it obvious for people to see on your home page that you have great content located on other pages on your website.
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66974

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Btw, Steve and Wes some of my menus are inspired from our Toastmaster Magazine, like the Club Experience, DTM Corner (although may be different category label in TI Magazine), and the Toastmaster Journey. B) B) B)

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66977

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Hello Steve and Wes,

I would like to get your feedback on the link I created. This link will replace the current Home Page:

metrosouthalabang.toastmastersclubs.org/...stmasterJourney.html

Notice the text here are from the "Default TM Information Panes" where I plan to disable it. The tabs will create the story on how a guest can initially visit a club to observe and learn about Toastmasters.

The video will be moved to the Club Experience page.

Let me know your thoughts.

Many thanks,
Anne

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66978

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Okay...

I'm gonna possibly commit "Toastmasters heresy" here...

- Your "Home" Tab -

While giving background info on Toastmasters International is informative, and our organization has a lot to be proud of, I would always put that info at the bottom of the page, rather than at the top.

(Wes cringes, waits a moment for lightning to strike, and when it doesn't, cautiously opens his eyes and continues...)

Here's the thing... we shouldn't expect a visitor to completely read any page we write. When most of us browse the web, we scan in "fast mode," and only switch to "slow mode" when something really catches our interest. We might then consider making everything at the top of the page encourage them to switch to "slow mode." What's at the very top must really count. Hard to do with such a vast and varied audience, except...

I may be surmising here, but I'm gonna guess that almost everyone browsing a Toastmasters website is interested in some sort of improvement and growth. So we might consider making everything we can about the visitors: the visitors' growth, the visitors' needs, soothing the visitors' insecurities, and especially, helping the visitors imagine themselves standing at the lectern, succeeding.

Your "Home" tab already does most of this (you really don't need me...)! Consider the following list only my opinion; I'd just do a quick rearranging of the furniture:

1) First sentence, beginning with "Congratulations": Bull's eye! Exactly what you want at the start. I'd make this its own paragraph, so it stands out.
2) The rest of the text above the picture: move below the picture.
3) Everything below the picture: move to above the picture, right below the first sentence.

Read it in this order, imagine that you know nothing of Toastmasters, and see if it doesn't sound more interesting. The TI background info would be for those who are already moderately convinced, and they're probably the only ones who'll read the whole page, anyway.

This, as changed, would be more than ready to publish, though you could make it a teeny bit better...

The paragraph starting with "The environment," will be near the very top. Those just scanning the page may only read 2 or 3 lines. I'd hone the wording here to pack as much into as few lines as possible. here's a sample rewrite:

Toastmasters clubs are friendly and supportive. Whether beginner or advanced, you're welcome and you are valued. You'll learn the art of prepared speeches as well as brief impromptu talks, called Table Topics. With no rush or pressure, you'll progress at your own pace.

This cuts out almost a third of the words, and encourages the reader to imagine themselves as Toastmasters, with contractions for "you are" and "you will." Again, this is very much my opinion; some will disagree, and you should listen to them as well. I may have lost some of the mood you wanted to set.

- Your "What is Toastmaster International?" tab -

First, probably a typo in the tab text, Toastmasters is plural. (I've seen kitchen appliances branded with "Toastmaster" in the singular.)

I'd break the first paragraph in two, to make it more easily "digestible" by the "fast readers." You might try to tighten the wording, but don't go crazy with it. I make efforts to tighten at the very top of the page; if people become interested enough to keep reading, the rest of the writing can be more relaxed.

Below the video, Move the TI background paragraph to the end again. I think it flows even better in that order.


- Your "Be A Toastmaster For One Day" tab -

Can I just say something about this phrase? It excited me the moment I read it, and I'd beg your permission to use it in my own club's site.

You've probably noticed my philosophy of encouraging the reader to visualize themselves as a Toastmaster, and this does it perfectly. It also allows the more skittish reader to feel safe and noncommittal, since it's only for "One Day."

You do explain that they're merely gaining the experience of being a Toastmaster, but you might want to make this more prominent at the beginning. Make it clear that they're not buying the car; they're simply taking a test drive. Let them understand that visitors can also opt to observe silently, as some people want to know they won't be put on the spot. And very important, make sure that no one at Toastmasters International gets nervous because you might sound like you're offering a one-day-membership. To be extra careful, on this page, you might want to only use the word "Toastmaster" in the singular. (We'll hope that they don't look at too many kitchen appliances... ;) )


All in all, this was fun. Take care...

Wes B.
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66980

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Thanks so much Wes for that feedback. I tried to imagine myself as the first-time visitor and yes I realize that's what I normally do, to just skim the page for something catchy, not unless I'm already familiar with the website and I'm really interested. I also get what you're suggesting that I need to make the visitor stay on my website, make it interesting for the visitor. I will include all your suggestions. Thanks so much for putting effort to review and write those comments. I'm so grateful.

I hope I can finish the all the revision before the end of the year.

Merry Christmas and a blessed new year. :)

Kind regards,
Anne

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66981

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wesb wrote: I've seen kitchen appliances branded with "Toastmaster" in the singular.


"Toastmaster of the Day" :? :silly: :lol: Now where did I put the cream cheese? :lol:

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66982

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wesb wrote: Wes cringes, waits a moment for lightning to strike, and when it doesn't, cautiously opens his eyes and continues...


You did not wait long enough... :P

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66983

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aemacalintal wrote: I tried to imagine myself as the first-time visitor and yes I realize that's what I normally do, to just skim the page for something catchy, not unless I'm already familiar with the website and I'm really interested. I also get what you're suggesting that I need to make the visitor stay on my website, make it interesting for the visitor.


Good strategy... I also recommend talking to "new-ish" members about what they like and do not like about the website. (a fresh set of eyes) You can ask them what content they actually looked at as a "reality check".
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66984

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That was so funny from Wes, I imagine him praying for the lightning not to strike. :woohoo:

Btw, yes please use "Be A Toastmaster For One Day" in your club ... you're right at least it's singular. Otherwise, we might get struck by lightning again :side: :side: :side:

Kind regards,
Anne

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66985

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:lol: :lol: :lol:

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66986

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Hello Steve and Wes,

I made a major revision to the site, incorporating most of your recommendations but this is still a work in progress.

Wes, I still need to work on simplifying the wordings. Thanks so much to both of you. I will update as soon as I'm done with all my revisions.

website version 2.0:
metrosouthalabang.toastmastersclubs.org/

Thanks so much
Anne

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66987

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Suggestion ... try a website background photo w/ complimentary colors... The photo itself is not the point of interest... it is just "nice packaging".

www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=D...imgrc=0S1iwQ9cCE21_M :
www.google.com/search?q=philippines+natu...ceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Example (w/ background photo of Alabang, of course):


This one is actually a little too blue for my taste, but it gives you the general idea.
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66988

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Also, you are using the same font, all black, all same font size on your home page. Use varying fonts, sizes, and careful use of color where you want to draw attention to important stuff.

Again... it is the *packaging* (styling) that needs the assist. Your content is great. :thumbsup:

Look at how we vary font styling in my home club website as an example: www.mindfulcommunicators.org/

Lastly, when I look at your home page, there is a pitch for Toastmasters, but I do not really see one for your particular club. If I assume that there are other TM clubs in your general geographical area, why should a prospective new member come to your particular club instead of another one?
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66989

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Hi Steve,
Merry Christmas :-). I was able to try you suggestion for the background image while cooking our noche buena feast. :-) ... I have a question though, I can't get the right size for the image so I don't need to scale it. What is the right width and length for the image to be exact on the screen?



Thanks again :-)

Kind regards,
Anne
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66990

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aemacalintal wrote: Hi Steve,
Merry Christmas :-). I was able to try you suggestion for the background image while cooking our noche buena feast. :-) ... I have a question though, I can't get the right size for the image so I don't need to scale it. What is the right width and length for the image to be exact on the screen?


Thanks again :-)

Kind regards,
Anne


Anne, I think your background image is fine. The point of the image or any background (color) is to just fill in the blank space at the sides and add some interesting styling to your website. Do not worry about being too exact... keep in mind that different user's screens will have different pixel dimensions anyway, so trying to be too exact is kind of a pointless exercise. If the image is too small for a user's screen it will repeat, anyway--that is the way I designed the functionality. Just find an image that looks good to you and adds some interesting styling and that should be fine. (I think your current image is fine.)

One nice thing about this approach is that you can change the image occasionally for an easy way to keep your website "fresh" without having to change the text content.
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #66995

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Hi Anne!!!

A noche buena feast sounds like a wonderful tradition... which we lack. I can tell we've missed out.

We can keep you running in circles with more and more suggestions. Take your time and don't let them overwhelm you.

Now that I see the changes as made, a few more things stand out:


You've put your meeting times in the floating banner, The problem is, it vanishes when the user clicks on main menu, and then returns to the home page. There's a better place for it.

Put it instead in the yellow stripe that says "Home" -- it's already confusing, right above a tab that says "Home." It's not obvious, but you can put more than one line of text there, so use it to full advantage.

Under your Home tab, add a paragraph #2 that tells what your club can do for them (it's probably the main question in their mind, anyway...) Make it short & enthusiastic.

Make the first line in your Home tab bolder & perhaps use a larger font, like an article headline.

BTW, we've implemented your "Be a Toastmaster for One Day!" in my club's site. We've included a thank-you to your club both on the dedicated page and our Acknowlegements page. Let me know if I've worded your club's name or location incorrectly. The link to the dedicated page is about 2/3 of the way down our home page. Thanks again for allowing us to use your idea.

Everybody else:

Evaluating other clubs' web pages is about the most fun thing we can do, I think. You can request an evaluation too, and if you engage us in conversation like Anne has done, we'll do our best to give you more of our best thoughts.

Take care...

Wes B.
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #67000

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Thanks Wes, yes our noche buena is equivalent to your Thanksgiving. We had a feast and while I'm waiting for the meat to get tender yes I'm editing our site. This is life. :cheer: :cheer: :cheer:

Thanks so much again for the valuable feedback. I know it took your time also doing it page by page. I have incorporated most of the feedback from you and Steve and in the process I learned so many things too, like how to make tabbed menu under Home, how to embed photo stream from IG, create an image as background, the list goes on and on. I made changes on the Home page as you suggested although the tab wrapped to the second line, I'm trying to figure out how not to do that because I want it on a single line. Anyways, I will post here all the updates I made since we started chatting for the benefit of the others who will just see the updated one. I wish I uploaded some photos of the before and after so they can appreciate how much changes were made as a result of all your feedback/recommendations.

Thanks so much, still work in progress but it's a lot better now than before. B)

Side note: I realized that not many here in our district are using the Free Toasthost site. I plan to help in our district if I can show them how to quickly create their site using the Free Toasthost framework. That will be on my list of to do.

Kind regards,
Anne

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #67003

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Wes, I will share with our club your mention of us in your website. Thanks so much. :cheer:

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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #67004

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Thanks Wes for the mention of our club name in your website. I have a small request though .... ;) ;) ;)

can you put a link to our website for the Metro South Alabang text? :lol: :lol: :lol: Thanks so much in advance.



I'm so happy, I can't help it so I posted it in our District 75 FB page ... :oops:
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Please evaluate Metro South Alabang Toastmasters website 5 months 3 weeks ago #67005

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Done!! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

I don't know why it didn't occur to me automatically. A link is the best thing we can do for other sites, for Google visibility and such. We're also starting to introduce the phrase in our Facebook posts, and will "amp it up" as people start thinking about New Year's Resolutions. We mentioned your club there too, and will link to your Facebook page.

It may be just me, but I think you have a really winning slogan with "Be A Toastmaster For One Day!" and you should do more with it, wherever you promote your club. It feels like it would really resonate with those visitors who are curious but unsure about Toastmasters, and who might need just a nudge to step out and visit a Toastmasters meeting.

Thanks again, & take care...

Wes B.

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