Specifics of domain promotion on social media discussed at 34th European registries meeting

The 34th CENTR Marketing Workshop took place on February 23. The meeting was held online and included representatives from 21 European ccTLDs, from national registries in Canada, the US, and Japan as well as gTLDs .COM and .NET, the cultural and linguistic domain of Catalonia .CAT, the city domain .AMSTERDAM, as well as the pan-European domain .EU and its Cyrillic equivalent, .ЕЮ. By tradition, experts from the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ also attended the conference.

The workshop opened with a roundtable discussion on domain zone development trends and marketing activities that target industry professionals as well as end users.

Most registries reported annual registration growth in their ccTLDs, with the top three comprising ccTLD .RS of Serbia (up 7.13% at the end of 2020), France’s .FR (up 7%) and Slovakia’s .SK (6.1%). Other domains reported an increase of about 2-4% at the end of 2020. Representatives of two domains shared news about crossing the psychologically significant thresholds in the number of active registrations – the Spanish .ES reached 2 million registrations, and the Canadian .CA, 3 million.

The Coordination Center’s Project Manager, Olga Baskakova, spoke about the key projects that had been implemented by the end of last year. In particular, the English-language version of the Domain Patrol cybersecurity website went online, and Domain Security ABC was published – a memo for registrants to help them protect their digital assets from loss or theft. Also, a report was released following IDN Survey 2020, a survey on national registries’ support for internationalized domain names initiated by the Coordination Center. Olga Baskakova also mentioned future events organized by the Coordination Center: the Russian Internet Governance Forum (RIGF 2021) and the RIGF Youth Track, the nationwide Family IT-Marathon on cyber literacy and the 20th anniversary of ccTLDs .RU/.РФ coming up, which will be marked with a number of festive and educational events.

Incidentally, representatives of other domains also spoke about their anniversary events. In December 2020, the .JP registry in Japan marked its 20th anniversary. In addition to an awareness campaign for end users, the registry also recognized its accredited registrars by giving each of them a history booklet and a biscuit cake. The .NL registry in the Netherlands turned 25 in November 2020, and .AMSTERDAM turned 5. And one day before the conference, on February 22, the Ukrainian .UA registry marked its 20th anniversary with a quiz on the history of the Ukrainian internet.

Other projects presented by participants included educational materials for registrars that help promote domains as a valuable asset (.UK, the UK); domain monitoring as a legal service (.NL); the Smart City program, which will include, among other things, a website with urban environment statistics to help city leaders plan their digital future (.IE, Ireland); weekly monitoring of domain name registrations thematically related to COVID-19 (.SK, Slovakia, and .PT, Portugal); a cybersecurity campaign with the slogan “If everything were as secure as the .BE zone” (Belgium); and an online service for checking the security settings of a website, email server or web connection (.DK, Denmark).

Also presented at the meeting were the results of CENTR's research on how registries use social media, a survey of 25 top-level domain administrators, including the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ.

In general, it appears that registries are vigorously using social networking tools to communicate with domain market professionals and end users. As many as 84% of respondents said they had official accounts on Facebook and 80% on Twitter, and that they issue new posts often, from several times a week to a daily routine; another 76% mentioned YouTube. Most registries try to adapt information for the respective platforms: for example, they mostly use Facebook or Instagram to post marketing materials aimed at increasing sales of domain names; Twitter is used to share information, and LinkedIn, to hire new staff; they also use social media to share educational information and company news.

All registries using Facebook accounts post their ads there; five registries said they did not advertise on social media at all; and one noted that it advertised on six platforms, while most registries use one or two social media sites, noting that the most effective is Facebook. For the most part, registries advertise their own brand, educational materials, or events. They use the post promotion function relying on their own resources (65% of respondents).

Toward the end, representatives of several registries shared their own experience in organizing promotional activities on social media, for example, to increase web traffic on the site or to expand the contact base of users or registrars in a limited-resource setting.

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