This post was written by Jon Bishop and Zac Champigny (Website, LinkedIn, Twitter). Zac is an Online Marketing Strategist with several years of experience working with online technologies. He recently spent 6 months in Medellin, Colombia expanding his knowledge of marketing, SEO, branding, social media, and business on the front lines of  an up and coming website.

How Do You Make Your Website Social?

It’s a popular question with a not so straightforward answer. With everyone talking about social media, how can websites easily adopt online social technologies to increase engagement across their brand.

Start With a Social Media Presence

The easiest way to dive in is to get set up on popular social media sites. Start to foster a community off of your site so when you start to bring them in they will engage and share more.

Make sure you advertise your social accounts somewhere on your site at least displaying links to your social profiles on your contact page.

Maintain A Blog

Starting a blog can be a commitment but the return on investment can be great and there are plenty of excellent resources out there to get your started.

One of the benefits of having a blog is you are giving the world something to share and an opportunity to tell your brand’s story. Your blog centralizes your brand’s voice and becomes a home base for further engagement.

The additional engagement can come in the form of comments or trackbacks. Allowing consumers to engage with their brand at it’s heart is incredibly powerful and helps create lasting impressions. This is also an opportunity for the brand to engage back to further nurture relationships within the community.

Social Widgets

Most of the top social media sites make it really easy to get content from those sites onto your own website (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest). The important thing is to not go overboard and focus on the content your users will get the most use of.

Also, get creative. Displaying your Facebook posts in your sidebar doesn’t provide too much value. Displaying comments from a targeted Facebook campaign in place of testimonials can be a more impactful way of giving your reader added social proof.

Start a Forum

Forums may not be for every site, but they can be very handy resources. A forum can foster brand loyalty by offering support and customer service, as well as a place for a community to form.

They also provide a place for people to see what others are saying about a brand, how the brand interacts with customers, and to connect with others interested in that brand. A lot of people will have the same questions about your products or companies. By focusing them in one place Google can help other’s with the same questions find your site

Promote and Host Events

Social media is only another medium within the realm of social interaction. You are not limited to tweeting at people from afar. You can use these tools to leverage opportunities to meet people interested in your niche or brand in real life, creating lasting memories of shared value.

Start promoting and attending meetups, tweetups, webinars, conferences, lectures, and other social networking opportunities. Meetup.com could be a good place to start connecting.

Reviews

If you are a brick and mortar shop or selling a product, you should look into displaying user-generated reviews on your site. Conversations about your brand are already happening on sites like Yelp, Glassdoor and Google Reviews so you should at least be paying attention.

If you pride yourself in your good reviews, why not display them right on your site. They are real-time pieces of content about an experience that you can then share yourself back to your community.

RSS and Email Lists

RSS syndication allows for people to have whatever content you post sent to their personal readers. This let’s people stay current with what is going on with your site. Make sure they know this is an option to them.

Email lists allow you to send more direct messages to users that may be interested in more behind the scenes stuff, special offers, or extra interesting content. If you offer good value in a newsletter or use it as a way to connect with users, it may result in more brand loyalty and content sharing.

Wrap-up

It’s no question engaging users on multiple levels is a strategy that is going to bring you more long-term success when it comes to building relationships and loyalty to your brand or message. There are many options available to you, but the most important thing you can do is identify why you should be connecting and what you can contribute. It’s not enough to just put all of this stuff up on your site like a big net. You have to engage people and offer them value. Don’t just make a Facebook page, offer value on that page. Don’t just make an email list, give something to people that makes lending you their ear worth their time.

- Header image graphic by juaniraola

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