Have you ever asked yourself what is the purpose of your website? Most likely yes, and the answer to that probably varies, depending on the type of business or the industry you’re in. One universal goal, however, regardless of your other intentions, would be to entice your website users into some kind of action. Essentially, you want people to do something, to act in a way that’s useful to your organization. In this post, I’d like to discuss the issue of how to make your website more social, as doing so will result in a number of beneficial implications.
Whether you want site visitors to share your content, connect with you on social media, buy products or do anything else, the strength of your website will be measured in the amount of action it creates.
The good thing is that people are looking for and expecting interaction online. Thus, having an engaging website is a necessity if you’re trying to be more social (and you should).
Why is this important for business? Well, I’ve mentioned the importance of community building a number of times on this blog. I’ve also tried to convince readers that having an engaging business website is as important to customer loyalty as is the presence in social media. The topic at hand is a combination of these two ideas.
The point of having a more social website is to create a self-sustained community willing to engage into a discussion with you and other customers, as well as spread the word about your organization. Luckily, there are certain uncomplicated steps you can take to help produce word-of-mouth marketing and customer referrals. Let’s take a look at how to get more social.
Content reigns supreme
If you were to consider the Internet to be a company, then its main product would be the content. The Web is like a humongous distributor of this fast moving goods, and websites are its suppliers. If your page will not provide excellent product on a regular basis, the great distributor will lose interest in you. And so will its (your) clients.
In order to be more social you have to create great, shareable content first. This is a starting point for both, the social media and the search engine game.
Despite all the technological advancement and different available media, we still interact using some natural language, like English, for example. The way you talk to your audience is very important. Usually, being personal, a little emotional and controversial works best when it comes to sparking up a discussion.
To have a more social website means to communicate in a way that makes your readers feel comfortable. It’s also about creating distinctive content, and that starts with little big things like great post titles. Only when you reach the point where you have a site filled with high-quality substance, you can engage in the social media game.
If your content’s boring, none of the other points will matter much. Don’t neglect this and look into hiring someone who will help you with content creation if you feel you might not have enough time to do that yourself.
Social media buttons
Right off the bat, let’s get the distinction between follow buttons and share buttons clear. The former ones allow site visitor to follow your organization’s outposts on social media and stay connected. The latter ones work as customer referrals, allowing website visitors to easily share content with their social networks.
What matters here is that search engines like Google and Bing use share counts for ranking pages in search results. The engines view them as indicators of how useful the content is, how trusted can your website be. Even more importantly, website visitors consider them as well. If others before them have liked the content, they’re willing to spend more time reading, downloading, commenting and generally getting engaged on your site.
It’s important that you test different locations of both types of buttons. It would be great if the follow buttons were sitting on a steady element, like a bar at the top of a page, moving along as the user scrolls the page. The share buttons usually sit at the top of an article, it’s bottom, or both. Remember to think of a unique call to action if you want people to share your content, thus giving you more social exposure.
Share buttons are great because they’re saving time and effort. The user doesn’t have to leave the page he’s on, and for Twitter you get an already shortened link, so you don’t have to do it yourself using third-party service.
Also, sharing a piece of content has certain coolness about it. You do it to show you’ve just read something interesting, to get your social circle on to a topic you consider important, to create a discussion. It’s a win-win for both parties involved.
Platforms like WordPress and Blogger have their own dedicated plugins for social media sharing. You simply download them and use the control panel to get them up and running. Take a look at:
Otherwise, if you have an HTML-coded website, take a look at the official resources for social media buttons:
Feeds, widgets and plugins to get you more social
Another way to create a more social website is by using different social media feeds and plugins. One of the most obvious choices for site owners would be:
This is a comprehensive social suite for Facebook liking and sharing, as well as Facebook comment section and other stuff. Facebook comments are especially interesting in relation to creating a more social website. I’ve seen them work very well on websites posting columns on a variety of topics and occasionally used them myself.
Facebook comments may be a good solution for those publishers who want to keep trolls at bay, since there’s the person’s name next to its comment. Of course, there will be rogue posters anyway, but their number should be significantly smaller. There’s also a useful option for commenters to not publish the comment to their wall.
When it comes to box widgets making your site more social, consider having the Facebook like box with fans’ faces, to show the support you’re already enjoying and to make it easy to become a part of the community by following you right away.
Another box widget is the Twitter activity feed allowing your website users to see immediately if they want to follow you, thus motivating you to perform well on Twitter. This is a chance for you to show off, however, you need to be active on the regular.
There’s also the Twitter favorites plugin for those who don’t tweet a lot themselves, which displays tweets you’ve favorited from your account, as well as Instagram feed, creating a neat tile-gallery of your latest photos.
Forums and comment sections
Making your website more social isn’t only about social media. It’s also about reverting to your own site from third-party platforms. Take a look at this resource of various online forum software to see which may work best for you.
The key point is providing website users with an opportunity to become a part of a community. Registering an account, having a post count, user rank and badges are all important parts of gamification, which is now widespread in all types of business.
How else are online forums important for becoming more social? Well, they can be a crowdsourcing tool, a means for you to collect feedback, ask questions, provide expert answers, get like-minded people together, etc.
Comment sections are similar to discussion boards. They’re like a single forum thread in a lot of ways. Basically, to one-up them and make your website more social, you can introduce the login method where site visitors use their Facebook, Twitter or Google+ accounts to be able to post comments. This allows them to save time, as they don’t have to create another account to get engaged on your website.
Finally, I’d like to discuss live chat briefly as a means for making a website more social. This is a tool with multiple applications, however, its most obvious advantage is that it facilitates real-time communication at no cost. Also, it constitutes a dynamic element of a website, which breathes life into otherwise static environment.
On the business end, live chat allows a brand to speak with a distant voice and have representatives a client can talk to in the virtual premises. This is especially important for e-commerce, where customers can get easily disengaged if there’s no way they can talk to a real person.
Live chat is also similar to a forum or a comments section. Chatwee, for instance, allows users to log in using their social media profiles, hold private conversations and send media – all this in real-time.
People are looking to interact online with businesses, as well as other site visitors. The key to becoming more social is providing them with the best means to do that. Live chat encourages people to check back often to see what’s going on and you to collect feedback from customers regarding new features or products. With an array of customization options, you can also experiment with the chat’s location on the website and its size to see how does engagement fluctuate, depending on the position.
Social media have changed the way we discover and consume information online. Your task now is to make this change a part of your content strategy by building a more social website.
Among your goals should be the creation of great content that people will want to share, this is one of the actions you want them to take regardless of your line of business. In order to have a more social website you also need to have tools that help build a community – forums and live chat are affordable and easy to implement solutions.
The point of getting more social is gaining audience, generating traffic to your website and facilitating WoMM. Great content and social media go hand in hand, one without the other is very much pointless. To make your online presence a success, optimize the website in a way, to let its visitors do the job of promotion for you.