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Why your website needs to be social, and how to do it

Why social media integration is important to your website

Online media today is about two-way dialogue between your and your audience. Period. Think about how your own personal Facebook page works. You post something and when your audience sees it, they have the option to comment, like or share that post with others. People are already used to this sort of activity. As of July, 2011, there were 750 million active Facebook users in the world. So if that many people are already familiar with interaction like this online, don’t you think it might be worth taking advantage of it on your organization’s website?

On the flip side, when a website resembles a brochure (about us, services, contact, boring, boring, etc.), the dialogue is one-way. You’re talking TO your audience, but not letting them talk to you. That’s the opposite of how people interact in today’s digital world. So…

What you can do to make your website social

Allow commenting on your blog (and maybe some other pages too). Then respond.

This scares the hell of a lot of people. What if my competitors decide to throw me under the bus? What if spammers invade? What if someone posts a link to a porn site? Come on, people. Reward doesn’t come without at least a bit of risk. Plus, any good content management system is going to allow you to moderate comments. Set your Allow commenting on your websitepreferences so comments must be approved before going live. Or don’t, and just pay attention to what’s being said. You’re bound to experience some negative sentiment through blog comments at some point, but addressing these comments in the public eye demonstrates a sense of honesty and transparency that many people appreciate seeing in a company.

One more important note on commenting: RESPOND. When you commit to allowing comments on your blog, take the time to respond to those who have posted something. If you ignore those who are engaging with you, what’s the point of this exercise in the first place?

Include social sharing buttons

Social sharing buttonsA simple click of a Like, Tweet or +1 button by a website visitor can distribute a link to your page or blog post all across that person’s social networks. Free services like AddThis and ShareThis make it very easy to implement. Total no-brainer. Do it.

Add a Tweet stream

If you’re an active Twitter user, consider adding a stream of your Tweets or relevant hashtags (like what we did in the right column of this page) into pages on your site. Twitter has an API that makes this really easy. Or even better, if you have access to a good developer (shameless plug for all star developer Dan Rashid of Gorilla 76), you can visually integrate the stream with the type styles on your site.

So, what’s the benefit of pulling in those Tweets? It gives the visitor a chance to engage with you in a social network where you’re already active. It adds relevant content to the page on which it appears (especially if you’re pulling in hashtag feeds for topics that are represented on that page of your site). And it demonstrates that you’re ready and willing to participate in conversation with your audience.

Give something of value away for free

Everyone loves free stuff, right? Give your audience free content like coupons or downloadable white papers. Put a form on your site and offer a free half hour webinar at lunch some day on a topic that demonstrates your expertise. Send monthly eblasts with tips, deals or resources. And in exchange for giving away this free stuff, ask for their name and email address. Make it easy to start this dialogue. Before you know it, you’ll have a captive audience that keeps returning to your site and a healthy stack of new business leads.

Let’s chat

Interested in learning more about GetDigital?

Email or call Ashley Hamilton at (314) 260-7455 with any questions you might have. We’re here to help.