Getting Your Website Integrated With Social Media

Until recently business owners considered Social Media a passing fad. Now even the big business have realised the immense potential of this as a marketing tool and have embraced this marketing phenomenon with open arms. The obvious next step of course is to integrate social media with the business website. While this may sound difficult to anyone outside the technology industry, it really is not difficult. Essentially using Social Media is just another way of expanding channels of communication with prospects and customers using content in different forms that are already prevalent, such as video, audio and text.The very mention of Social Media brings to mind the task of untangling the maze of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and other popular platforms. The integration of these with a company website can be explained with a simple analogy. Most business owners have offices and invite prospects and customers to visit these offices so they can initiate a business discussion. However to get these prospects and customers business owners go to events, conferences and business meetings to spread the message about their business. Integrating social media into a website involves taking the where the prospects and customers are, so that they can connect and initiate communication with the business.Auditing a website for Social Media contentThe first step in the integration process is to take stock of the website content in terms of the video, audio, images and text being used. Video has gained immense popularity with webmasters for ranking purposes. The audit should focus on pages that get updated often, such as the home page or the blog which are likely to generate the most feedback. These pages have the greatest benefit as a result of dialog with prospects and customers. The audit should not be limited to the website alone. It is important to determine where conversations are occurring. Find out as much as possible about how clients communicate and ways social media can be used to keep the conversations flowing.Having completed the social media website audit, the next step is to set objectives for each use of the different types of content being used in the website – text, video, audio and so on. Once you’ve gathered your audit of text, audio, images, and video, determine what the objectives are for each of those uses. Keep the objectives brief and simple, limiting them to two or three sentences.Scoping social media toolsAfter the objectives for the content currently existing on the website have been determined, the various tools that can help meet these objectives need to be considered. To make it easier first consider the broad groups of tools, such as video sharing sites, photo sharing sites and so on. A video sharing site such as YouTube is excellent for showcasing products and posting testimonials. Twitter on the other hand is excellent for quick updates, customer feedback and generating targeted traffic.While selecting the specific tools to be used, it is important to focus on the objectives rather than the familiarity with the tools. It is also a good idea to document reasons why a particular tool was selected in case future changes to the tool may not meet the objectives.Having selected the social media tools for website integration, it is important to allocate resources to manage the integration process on an ongoing basis. Management will need to determine how the employee will be able to manage the additional workload to fit into the current job portfolio and whether it is worthwhile hiring dedicated staff for just this purpose.The reward of website integration with social mediaFor the uninitiated, the use of social media will involve a steep learning curve initially and a behaviourial change in accepting that social media eventually leads to more effective communication with prospects and clients. With practiced use, businesses will find a reduction in incoming phone calls and email, so employees can manage their time more efficiently.Integrating social media with a company website is also more interactive and fun. A Twitter post from a manager on the company website indicating they are busy in an afternoon meeting will indicate to a client why they may not be answering their mobile phone. Content that is being produced by employees can often be beneficial for prospects and clients. For instance managers who take great pains to produce Power Point presentations at business conferences, can upload these to a blog hosted on the company website, so that customers unable to attend the conference can view the presentation, as can other who may have an interest in the subject. In this way the conversation is expanded to reach a far wider audience with minimum effort.Integrating social media into the business website should not be rushed into, but implemented in a manner that is consistent with the corporate identity. Rather than being an ad hoc addition to a website, social media should form one of the key components of the website. The process should be simple and not painful, aimed at tackling three challenges. These are – moving business conversations across to a dynamic medium, reaching a wider audience and using platforms that allow for easier content updating. Social media provides an amazing opportunity to propel web content can to new heights provided a clear roadmap is laid out.