Social media continues to grow as an effective communications channel. To make the most of opportunities to connect with others and encourage them to share your content, it’s important that social media be integrated well into your website.
While some forms of social media integration can be done in your website’s content after the site has been launched, other aspects need to be embedded into the design. For those that need to be embedded into the design, it’s best to figure that out while your website is being developed, not as an after thought. Otherwise you’ll be going back to your developer (or going back to web development yourself) for some changes to the design, which is always more costly and time-consuming.
So, let’s look at…
12 Ways to Integrate Social Media into Your Website
1) Add social media icons that link to all your social media profile. This seems pretty straight forward. If your organization has a Facebook page, you should have a Facebook icon that links to that page. Because you want these icons/links on every page of your website and every blog post, they should be integrated into the web design of your site. You also want to make sure you double check to be sure there are icons/links ALL your social media profiles. (Have you added a Pintrest or Instagram account since you updated the design of your site?)
2) Add Share/like/+1 buttons to every page/post in your website. If you want your visitors to share your content with their friends and followers (and you do!), it’s important to make that as easy as possible. At the very least, you want to have Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons. Even if your organization doesn’t use Twitter or Google+, your visitors do, so help them. There are several ways you can go about adding these buttons:
- Twitter, Facebook & Google+ all have code for their buttons on their websites.
- If you use WordPress for your website, there are plugins for Twitter, FB, & G+ buttons
- There are also “all in one” share buttons like ShareThis and AddThis, which facilitate sharing to dozens of social media sites with one snippet of code.
3) Set up Google Authorship. Google CEO has said, “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification.” In other words, your websites rankings in Google will be higher if you help Google know who the author is. Here are more details on how to verify authorship with Google.
4) Link to social review sites and ask for recommendations. Create a “Recommend us” page on your site with links to where people can leave online reviews on Yelp, Google+ Local, Bing Places, Yahoo Local and other sites. Specifically ask for positive reviews on that page.
5) Embed and link to images. When adding a page or blog post, it’s always good to include an image in it. Images make the page look better and can help the visitor feel more connected. If you’re going to include a photo or an image you’ve created, first upload the image to social media sites like Facebook, G+, Pintrest and or Instagram. Then when you embed the image in the page or post, you can make it link to the image on one of those social sites.
6) Link & share images in captions. Take the concept above one step further by adding a caption below the image on the web page which asks visitors to share the image and includes links to all the social sites where you’ve shared it. For an example, take a look at the images in this blog post.
7) Tweet quotes & link to them. If you’re going to include a short quote in a web page or blog post, tweet the quote first. Then include a link to the tweet in the web page/blog post and invite visitors to retweet it.
8) Embed video. Just as with images, whenever you have video to share on a web page or blog post, upload it to a social site like YouTube or Vimeo first. Then embed the video in the web page or blog post. This will help more people connect with your organization on the video site and share your videos with others.
9) Add a Facebook Fanbox to the sitebar of your site. The Facebook Fanbox is a widget you can embed in the sidebar of your site. It not only enables visitors to “Like” your FB page without leaving your site, but it also shows your latest updates and other people who “like” your page. We’ve got one in the right sidebar of our blog, if you’d like to see an example. I don’t recommend every organization use the Facebook Fanbox, but it can be worthwhile if Facebook is a significant part of your communications strategy.
10) Add a Twitter Widget to your website’s sitebar. A Twitter Widget is very similar to the Facebook Fanbox but for Twitter. It enables visitors to follow you and see your latest tweets without having to leave your site. Like the Facebook Fanbox whether its worthwhile to add to your site depends on how important Twitter is to your communications strategy.
2 Social Media Integrations I don’t Recommend
These last two ways to integrate your website with social media, I don’t recommend for most organizations. They can be complicated to implement and reduce some of your control and data.
11) Integrate Facebook Comments. Facebook Comments lets people comment on content on your site using their Facebook profile. The benefit is that it shows this activity to their friends in news feed and so it can draw their friends into the conversation on your website or blog. I don’t recommend it for most sites as is it can be complicated to integrate and you lose some control, but it could be a good fit for some. More on the pros & cons in this Tech Crunch article.
12) Integrate Facebook or Twitter Login. You’ve probably come across sites that ask you to create an account or give you the option to login with Facebook or Twitter. This added option of logging in with Facebook or Twitter can increase the number of people who sign-up because some people are reluctant to create a new account or don’t want to take the time to do it. As with Facebook comments, I don’t recommend it for most sites as is it can be complicated to integrate and you lose some control, but it could be a good fit for some.
- How have you integrated social media with your website?
- How much consideration did you give social media integration when your current website was being built?