Making Social Media Your Website’s Greatest Ally

Social Media is on the Rise – What Do the Numbers Tell Us?

With 72% of all Internet users being active on social media, these communication platforms are no longer a novel concept but have become a strategically integrated element of business communications. 2014 reports indicate a rapid growth in the number of users of these top platforms: 1.23 billionon Facebook (USA TODAY), 241 millionon Twitter (The Wall Street Journal), and 277 millionon LinkedIn (Statista). It’s no wonder that many organizations of all sizes and across various industries rely heavily on social media for developing connections with their target audiences. For these purposes, integrating your online platforms – website and social media – plays an essential role.

Common Social Media Integration on Websites

Many organizations use social networks including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for various reasons, such as sharing news and content, creating awareness, communicating with followers, and promoting their offerings. One of the simplest yet effective ways to maintain an integrated communication strategy is by featuring social media icons prominently on your organization’s website. Common locations include the side rails, top right corner, and bottom rails, with the icons displayed consistently throughout pages of the site. Additionally, whether your social media’s call to action is “like this article,” “share this content,” “like our Facebook page,” or “follow our company on LinkedIn,” make it as intuitive (by design and placement) as possible for users to complete the path you’d like them to follow.

A Successful Case of Social Media Integration

One of our clients, a scientific society with approximately 5,000 members from academia, medical industry, and government sector, shows a successful case of social media and website integration. The association displays Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube icons prominently and consistently in the left rail of its website, where top medical research news and content are provided to members and online users. Another effective strategy that the client implements is effectively carrying its logo and color schemes from its website to its social media pages, thereby cultivating the same “look and feelof the organization for internet users. Sharing content and expanding visibility are among the ultimate goals of social media use. One way that the client makes great use of social media is by regularly tweeting about current pharmaceutical studies and research opportunities. Its Facebook page provides information in a similar fashion. Additionally, the page displays graphics including bar charts to present information in a way that makes research data more understandable and visually-appealing to the readers. Keep in mind that all original content posted on the client’s social media sites directs followers back to its website pages, encouraging them to explore more content and subscribe to relevant sections on its website or blog.

Social Media Integration – A Double Edged Sword?

While social media sites are excellent tools to reach out to your target audience, they can create conflicts of purpose among your various communication channels. For instance, one of our association clients was faced with a membership recruitment challenge stemmed from its social media use. The numbers of followers were growing on its social media sites– about 20 new LinkedIn followers per day and 30 new Facebook members a week. While this growth is good news, many followers seemed to mistake that liking the association’s Facebook page would automatically enroll them for the actual membership. However, membership requires a separate registration on the association’s website. So remember to make your calls to action as intuitive as possible. In this case, the client should provide a direct link on its Facebook page to take followers to its membership sign-up page on their website. Furthermore, if your communications strategy is not designed properly, it’s likely that Internet users may begin frequenting your social media accounts in place of your website, rather than in addition to it. This is counterproductive! Make sure that you provide enough information on your social media sites to pique visitors’ interests, but leave out just enough that you are leading them to your company’s website. Social media provide a more casual but very engaging way to stay connected to and expand your organization’s audience. In the coming years, integrating social media with your website will be critical to successful communication. However, each unique organization requires a different approach to social media – the key is to identify the channels where your audiences are, then start building your social sites and website that cater to their interests. And remember, good content should be at the core of your strategy, as it promotes your organization’s expertise, brings value to your users, and most importantly, encourages your audience to discuss and share. The synergy between your website and social media plays a critical role to your organization’s online communications’ success. _____________________ 1“The Growth of Social Media” infographics, Search Engine Journal, January 2014 2”Status update: 10 years in, Facebook still a force,” Scott Martin, USA TODAY, February 2014 3”Recap: Twitter’s Earnings Call,” The Wall Street Journal, February 2014 4”Numbers of LinkedIn members from 1st quarter 2009 to 4th quarter 2013 (in millions),” Statista, 2014
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