How to Create a Socially Friendly Website
Social media is no longer just an option for companies looking to penetrate a tech savvy or youthful audience, it has become an irreplaceable tool utilized to market brands and ideas of every size, industry, and purpose. With this cultural shift towards accepting social media as an integral part of everyday life, and oftentimes everyday marketing, businesses are sometimes left wondering how to build a necessary bridge between their brand, website, and social presence. The process of creating what I'll refer to as a "socially friendly" website should not be considered a possibility to be explored, but instead must be understood as essential to a site's success in modern day marketing practices. In this article, I'd like to share a few tips which will lead every site you create (whether it's for your own business or a client) toward being socially engaging and positioned for success.
The first and perhaps most important step in the process of building a social site is to include social badges on every page, prompting users to visit your presences on whatever group of networks you deem relevant. According to Mass Relevance, 59 percent of people are more likely to trust brands that utilize social media, which means you should be doing everything possible to ensure your social accounts are seen. It's great to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc. - but your time spent there will have little value if no one is aware of it. Including social badges on every page of your site leaves no uncertainty in your customers mind, and positions you to maximize follower and friend counts. If you're worried about how the icons will affect the aesthetics of your page or visual identity of your brand, you can always customize uniform ones or download free existing ones.
A word to the wise: social badges and sharing buttons are similar, but not one in the same. A social badge directs a user to follow your social profile on a network, while a social sharing button allows a user to actually share a specific piece of content with their followers. For example, a headphone company might include social badges across their site inviting users to follow them on Twitter, and embed a "Pin It" sharing button on each pair of headphones available for purchase. To learn more about the Pin It feature, visit Pinterest's business section.
While we're on the topic of Pinterest, it's worth nothing that the quality of visual content on your page is a key ingredient in a complete social site recipe. In addition to incorporating social buttons and badges into your layout, also take care to ensure the contents of your site are "shareable". Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and many other social sites provides businesses with infinite opportunities for free promotion via the word of mouth, pending said business provides ample content for those users to share. To encourage sharing of your products or offerings, take time to capture engaging and unique photos of each one.
With these components in place, a website is well on the way to building connections in the social space. But one additional consideration should come into play before labeling this process complete (and as any good marketer will tell you, an inbound campaign is never truly done). When considering how you want visitors and customers to experience your site and build connections with your business through social media, take care to consistently provide something fresh on your site. This won't need to be something as dramatic as a quarterly redesign of the entire layout - it could be as small as a new blog post or photo share a few times each week. Whatever your "content" may be, keeping it up-to-date will not only give users a reason to visit the site, it will provide them with something tangible they can share or participate in.
With these tips in mind, I hope you'll be able to approach the "socialization" of existing and future sites with a set of guidelines to achieve success. If you have additional ideas or experiences within the realm of creating a socially friendly site, specifically in Joomla, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
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