Social media has taken over. It is no secret that every day more and more organizations are using social marketing to boost their marketing strategies.
The last decade and a half have introduced a plethora of terminologies in marketing lexicon – blogs, tweets, status updates, social media strategies and keywords, to name a few. But the bottom-line remains the same. Marketing continues to be all about communicating, connecting and building lasting relationships with the customers and audience.
It is no longer enough to have a separately functioning website and a social marketing strategy that does not include your other online collateral. This is where the term integrated social marketing ecosystem comes into play. It can be defined as an active, seamless online presence through web, social and mobile content that is valuable to the customer. In a recent survey, 86% of marketing decision makers said that collating multiple channels under one integrated marketing strategy is crucial for long-term success.
Social media is one way to get the word out in terms of marketing, but you have the most control over your brand presentation only on your website. In most cases, however, businesses falter when it comes to building a system that integrates their website with their social marketing strategy.
Why Do You Need an Integrated Social Marketing Ecosystem?
Social marketing integration uses not just traditional SEO, but combines it with social media marketing, making it a complete ecosystem. In the past it was all about getting inbound links, but social media’s increasing role has changed this. In addition to the usual backlinks, social media sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn are also integrated into the website.
Search engines now use retweets, Facebook likes and Google+1s to help determine search rankings. Google has already shown its inclination to reward sites with good social signals, making it imperative for organizations to integrate their websites into their social marketing strategy. Both SEO as well as social media marketing have common goals. Having them work together can create a seamless social marketing ecosystem that will provide the organization with the marketing impetus it needs in this competitive economy.
As of September, 2013, 71% of online adults use Facebook. Almost 72% of people between the ages of 30-49 are using social media. The user experience, when online, does not remain focused on merely one channel. It shifts continuously, making it necessary for organizations and companies to be present where the users are.
Using the power of social media to boost your website can not only help drive higher time spent on the site, it also helps increasing the rates of engagement and sharing of social content. It also allows brands to connect their online presence into a cohesive digital strategy. In other words, it helps brands communicate better with their community and leverage user-generated content.
Here are a few tips on how you can best integrate your website into your social marketing strategy to reap maximum benefits.
Use Social Media and Share Buttons
Icons of popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, StumbleUpon and Reddit are placed at the top, left, right or bottom of the web page content. The content could be a blog, a video, an infographic or a common factor in all the pages on your website.
Making sure your customers know which social media sites you are on can help them better share the content and information about your brand with their peers. The more visible the buttons, the more the audience will use it. Many websites also have a call to action, asking their visitors to like their Facebook or Twitter page.
Social share buttons enable the users to stay on the site longer and share the content on their social media profiles without leaving the site. But making the buttons too small or too big would be an eyesore. Ideally they should not draw too much attention yet be easy to find. Placing a like and share button on your blog posts would be a good idea to encourage your web visitors to share your content.
Enable a Social Login
Many websites enable their visitors to log in using their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Having a social login alongside a regular login gives your visitors options to choose from. A lot of users also find it more convenient to use an existing social login than create an entirely new one.
It reduces spam logins as only real people register via social logins. The rapid sign-up process does not involve typing of any details. This system has lower bounce rates than regular login.
Create Social Media-Friendly Design and Content
Many websites have replaced static content with variable content that feeds from various sources like social media feeds, blog feeds, category-driven areas of the site, news feeds etc. This has resulted in the homepage layouts changing to accommodate the variation in content by including modular panels.
The content designed for the website as well as social media purposes should be relevant to the end users. This makes the content shareable and increases interaction on the website as well as on the social media platforms.
Comments are one of the best ways to get feedback for brands via their blog posts or social media updates. Using social commenting means allowing users to comment via their existing social media profiles, this is far more beneficial than the regular comment box built into your CMS or other website platform. It reduces chances of spam comments while increasing social signals on your site.
Add an Activity Feed
An activity feed describes every recent action performed on your website by your visitors. There are many resources to create your own activity streams. However, if you have an active Facebook and Twitter page, embedding social activity feeds from your social media pages in your site will be more helpful. This will enable a higher level of engagement for your visitors and also enable you to track actions happening on your site.
Here are a few websites that have nailed their social marketing ecosystem:
With a homepage dominated primarily by links to their social properties, they more than make the case for the importance of social media marketing. Their navigation menus on top, on the sidebar as well as the main image navigation, have links to their Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages. Small wonder then, that they have over 6 million Facebook fans.
Social media is increasingly gearing towards user generated content. Recognizing this, Pepsi created a new digital dashboard on their Pepsi.com page to support their Live for Now campaign. This dashboard flashed user generated messages from Facebook and Twitter that included the #LiveForNow hashtag. This savvy understanding of their target group’s preferences and attitudes is what has helped it make a solid social marketing ecosystem.
Martell Home Builders
This Canadian construction company has put in place several social media strategies to make its interaction with home buyers and sellers unique and informational. Their initial emphasis on creating user-friendly content was backed by the placement of their social media links on a tool bar near each post. This enabled users to share the content with ease or send it directly to their email inbox. Today 86% of their leads are generated from their customers.
Their use of geolocation technology – a tool they call “Where’s My Contractor” – has enabled them to magnify their customer service by helping their clients know exactly where the contractor is when on the job. They also share pictures of their on-going projects and their progress, enabling customers to share in the excitement with their friends and family.
A company that sells outdoor equipment for hiking, snowboarding etc. they have integrated social media in almost every aspect of their website. Their “Nerds save 5%” promotion has aided their one-click process to join their network, making it quick and simple.
They promise exclusive deals and promotions to their fans once they click the Like button on their website and join their Facebook community. Their orders have increased by an amazing 50% since the inclusion of this button.
Their WikiNerdia page, working on the same lines as Wikipedia, allows customers to edit and add to the information on their various products, including descriptions and photos. By allowing customers to answer queries, Giantnerd has increased the brand trust for potential customers.
Social media is the best tool in a client servicing executive’s arsenal to increase the quality of customer interaction, and Zappos has mastered it. A company that sells shoes, clothing and accessories online, their customer service representatives scan social media sites for opportunities to interact with customers and answer queries. They allow other users to view tweets and Facebook conversations between customers and representatives.
They use a strategy known as “fans-only content” where they reveal their content only once someone has become a fan. Once you have clicked the like button they’ve incorporated on their website, you get instant access to exclusive content, videos and promotions.
When you think of a business-to-business company you do not immediately associate it with a social savvy marketing strategy, but Cree does just that. Selling environment-friendly industrial LED lighting, they have a section called “Cries for Help” encouraging companies to show their bad lighting on their site making it fun and interactive. With highly engaging content they are able to grab the attention of customers in a way very few B2B businesses have been able to.
When you join their movement you get to display a badge on your site saying “Take the pledge. I joined the LED lighting revolution.” This is brilliant in building a community and getting viral exposure. Over and above this, their integration of social media channel buttons makes it fairly simple to see how Cree is leading the way in changing how B2B businesses perceive social media today.
Ford Motor Company
Ford has made social media marketing one of their core marketing tactics. They have made the site incredibly simple for new users to understand. Every time a new blog post is added, the image, headline and comments from the readers are immediately placed on the front page of their website.
Their blog, The Ford Story, makes sure the viewers see the comments before they start reading the article. This increases curiosity and gives a certain amount of reliability to the content. They have also added a Flickr widget to showcase their latest photos making it even more interactive.
San Chez Bistro
A tapas bistro in Grand Rapids, Michigan, San Chez has led the way in optimizing benefits of social media for local businesses. They encourage their patrons to use Twitter to book a table at their restaurant, calling it “Tweet-Ahead Seating”. Once you tweet, their online hostess tweets back saying “Great, you’re on the list. See you in a little while.”
Their combination of using smartphone capabilities, social media and local marketing has enabled them to create an incredible online marketing campaign. For even greater visibility they use Foursquare allowing people to check in with their mobiles, ensuring their friends know where they are.
Social media has radicalized the meaning of marketing. Creating an integrated social marketing ecosystem has become essential for anyone hoping to promote their brand. Consider your website your home country and social media platforms the embassies. An integrated functioning of both is what makes an effective social marketing strategy. So what are you waiting for? The time to adopt an integrated social marketing ecosystem is now.
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