Is Your Website Ready for the Social Web?
Consider the following scenario:
Over the summer, you assembled your team and got them pointed in a new direction – toward social media as a business-critical marketing channel. They embraced the idea and collectively began investing the time and energy to get up-to-speed.
Now they are fully engaged and executing your plan enthusiastically. You’re starting to see some results…
Your hard-earned new Facebook fans are impressed with your updates and posts. They visit your website hoping to find more useful information.
A well-respected expert in your industry now follows you on Twitter. He has been monitoring your traffic and wants to know more about you and your business so he checks out your website to learn more.
A new contact (and potential customer) on LinkedIn saw your status update regarding the webinar you are hosting next week and goes to your site for details.
But wait! Will your website represent you and your business well in front of a social-media-savvy audience?! Does your website leverage all the work you have done in your social media efforts and engage your customers in a dialogue? Does it amplify the marketing message and brand image you are trying to convey?
If your website looks more like an online brochure and less like a customer-engaging business resource community, then you have a real problem. And it’s a problem that is very common these days. Success on the social web requires a complete social web strategy. And perhaps the most important tool you can have in that regard is a social-web-enabled website, one that serves as your social media hub.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Convert your website into a “social website” and your social media hub.
The electronic brochure websites of yesterday are wholly inadequate to the challenge presented by the social web. To participate meaningfully online today (and more so every day going forward), your business needs a website that allows you to leverage the power of the social web, with all of its extended functionality, information and relationship context. In other words, you need a social web platform that enables your website to communicate and integrate with other applications across the social web and serve as your central social media hub – upon which you will showcase all your posts, blogs, tweets, pictures and social media activity.
Your Social Website allows you to…
- Showcase your experience, expertise and resources.
- Build a branded community of followers in your target market.
- Create a valued resource for customers, partners and employees.
- Nurture a dialogue-oriented marketing campaign instead of a monologue-based one.
- Leverage the long and organic arms of the greater social web.
- Develop, maintain and encourage relationship development between all users.
- Create an environment in which you have frequent opportunities to offer solutions (i.e. to sell).
When you post a link to your new blog on LinkedIn or tweet about a new event or give Facebook fans your take on a recent merger in your industry, you will bring them back to your website where your valuable expert content is posted and you can engage them directly with a product or service solution.
With a social website, you can pursue a very efficient and effective strategy called the “hub-and-spokes” strategy. Rather than trying to post content manually and repetitively to 8 different networks, you post valuable content only on your website and then leverage the social distribution features of your social website to “publish” that post in a shorter form to multiple social networks across the social web. Each published post contains a link that points back to the blog on your website where the content can be accessed in detail and where followers can find even more. And of course, since your website is socially enabled, when they come to read your highly informative blog, they can use their LinkedIn or Facebook credentials to register and login to your site to reread the complete blog and access your library of additional informational content on related topics.
Now they are members of your online community! And you have a direct channel to communicate with them!
2. Create a digital business community.
At the heart of the social web is the concept of community. Community goes beyond the borders of a single network. Imagine the power of managing an active community of all your customers, prospects, partners, employees, etc. Such a place becomes a showcase of your products and services and an incubator of new ideas, new products and new business opportunities.
Your social website will be a vehicle for building and nurturing that community. Make sure it has all the standard functional capabilities of any social network; features like user registration, user profiles, friending, following, commenting, rating, liking, sharing, posting, etc. All of these are vital to building a vibrant social community of business users. Your website should also be able to broadcast all your social activity as an RSS feed. This makes it very easy to syndicate your content and activities to other sites. And it makes it easy for your followers to stay fully informed of everything you are doing.
In the new world of the social web, your social media activity says a lot about your business, your brand and your style. Having a social website gives you a place to concentrate and feature all of your social media activity and content in one place.
3. Build your following.
Fans aren’t just a Facebook concept. They are a universal social networking concept and a very real and valuable business marketing concept as well.
You want to create unique content that offers real value to your community members, information that they critically need. Make it easy for them to follow your blog/site by providing links to your RSS feed and email updates. As you blog, invite them to post their comments below each blog post. Make it easy for your community members to interact, ask questions, make suggestions and keep in touch.
4. Start Today
It may help to check out this video we recorded on the subject which you can access here: http://www.nickelriver.com/?page_id=1475 And, of course, feel free to contact us at Nickel River (http://www.nickelriver.com) and we’ll do what we can to help you get started with a social web strategy and a social web platform to execute that strategy.
Nickel River Partners, LLC