Make Social Networking Work for Your Organization
Like it or not, social networking has taken over the internet. Just about any major site you visit will have RSS feeds, "share" links, and social pages allowing users to reach their content across the web as well as allow users to share any given content through social networks. Social sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Virb, YouTube, Vimeo as well as Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, etc. There are literally thousands upon thousands of these sites and hundreds of millions of people using them every day. Find out more after the break…
So here you are with your website wondering how to effectively (and cheaply) broadcast your message and get traffic to your site. The trick is catching your target audience where they live on the internet…social sites. There are a number of ways to do this including creating "pages" or "profiles" on given sites, but also enabling the ability of visitors of your site to "share" your site's content via social networks.
Creating Pages/Profiles (Customization):
Any Joe can sign up for a MySpace or Facebook page. Although with hard work you can gain some attention, if you aren't accurately representing your brand all that work could be for naught. It is vital that you have a unified front on the web across not only your site, but also any profiles on any social sites. This means consistency with the logo, theme, colors, imagery, etc.
Some sites are highly customizable (ie: MySpace) and others aren't (ie: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube). With MySpace, you can create a "mini" version of your website on the MySpace page that will look very similar to your site. With Facebook, outside of a few images and content, you are very limited to Facebook's template. Regardless, content is key. You not only need to pump your website and your social sites full of content (ie: daily tips, updates, news updates, blogs, event notices, video, audio, or even sharing links). Although this can sound overwhelming, it isn't—read on to see why.
How Social Sites and Function With and For Your Site
Think like a spider. You want to build a "web" to catch internet users and draw them in. Have each of your sites link to all of your other sites to create a "web." Also, take advantage of what social sites offer as far as embedding and sharing content. Use the sites features and have content from each site on each of the other sites (as much as you can).
Lets say that in addition to your website, you have a MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter that all mirror your brand visually (with imagery and customization). Your website should have a few crucial elements like a twitter feed, RSS feed and "share" capability (which I'll discuss a little later), and maybe an area for videos or pictures. Here's where social sites help. You can upload your videos to your YouTube channel and embed them on your website, MySpace, and link to them with your Twitter. You can upload your photos to Flickr and have them feed onto your website, MySpace, Facebook and link to them with your Twitter. You can update your status on Twitter and have it update your website, Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube status. Social sites are fantastic broadcasting tools. You can even further promote your videos, photos or message with bulletins on MySpace (updates on Facebook), Tweets, blogs, comments, direct messages and more.
Note: Having your site built with a CMS (content management system) such as Drupal allows for this functionality. Robison Creative Studios is very glad to offer Drupal CMS websites to offer the utmost functionality to our clients.
RSS Feeds and Content Sharing on Your Site
RSS feeds are also very useful and effective in getting your site more traffic. For example, visit CNN.com and notice the RSS feed icon. RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndicate" (see Wiki) and allows users to subscribe to a given section of a website, page of a website, or even a website as a whole (if available) AND have the content from the given section automatically sent to them. So instead of hitting the same 10 websites multiple times a day, a person can check their feeds and see all of the updates that have taken place since they last check and get a snippet of the article with a link to the site to see more. This allows your user to be automatically notified when you update your website. The more, the better because ultimately it means more users visiting your site more frequently (assuming you are updating your site often).
Back to CNN.com, see all the ways they offer their content and all the ways to share their content. You'll notice that on any article you read or any video or picture you view, there will be a sharing option that will easily allow you to share that content on tons of social networks (ie: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc). Clicking one of these will do all the work for you. All you have to do is login and select how to share it (you are usually presented with a few options based on which site you are sharing on). In a few clicks you can quickly share that funny photo with all your friends on Facebook or the world on Digg.
So not only is all the content you need on your website, it is also on a number of major social networks…
…networks that are highly indexed by search engines like Google (See this Google search for Robison Creative Studios and note how many of the first page listings are RCS' including social sites)
…networks with hundred of millions of people on them every day (Facebook Statistics)
…networks now with your content feeding people to your pages/profiles and (hopefully) ultimately to your site.
And even though this sounds like a lot of work, using a modern browser such as Firefox or Safari with a few open tabs makes this a simple process that can be carried out quickly with ease. If you are using Internet Explorer, please upgrade your browser (GetFirefoxNow.com).
See Social Site Integration In Action
The organizations that really lean on these sites as tools to communicate with their current audience while reaching out to new people have found the most success. Simply having a presence on these sites isn't enough. It takes interaction, daily is best. But a few minutes a day can make a world of difference for your organization.
Below are a few clients we have effectively carried branding across numerous social sites. You'll see an image of the client's website with links to their live website and social sites below. Just click on the social site logo to see the given social site for that client.
Client: Chaplaincy Ministries (AG)
Client: Crossroads International
Client: Healthcare Ministries (AG)
Client: Second Nature