Digital marketers quite often will have social media at the heart of their marketing campaigns. Social media is a great way to get your ideas out to a wider audience. One of the best ways to showcase the social presence of a brand is via its website.
When it comes to integrating your social content onto your website, it is just a case of adding a few social icons to your navigation and you are done, right? Not quite.
The content of your website and social media accounts can be blended to unify your brand online. Having a seamlessly connected digital presence on social media and your website can increase traffic and improve meaningful interactions you have with customers.
Here I will discuss how to get your website and social media content working together in the direction of one common goal.
Create Social Media Icons
As I touched on earlier, one of the most well knows ways of integrating social media onto your website is by including social media icons throughout your website. Whilst it should not be the limit of your social integration, it is a good start.
Social media icons can be added consistently and subtly throughout your website, to provide users with easy access to your social platforms. Common areas to include social icons are the main navigation bar, footer, contact and product pages. Social icons can also be placed above social content feeds, which I will touch on later. Creative Bloq have ample social media icons on their blog, such as the navigation links shown above.
You should also note that social icons are most effective when paired with a call to action, such as “connect with us”, which gives the user more context about your intentions. There are several free icon providers out there such as Font Awesome and IconMonster amongst others.
Follow and Share Buttons
Similar to general social icons, the follow and share buttons provide another link for your users to access your social media platforms. Firstly, the “follow” buttons allow the users to get directly invited to follow a page that you manage. As a result, they are signed up to your account and will be able to receive updates in the future.
The total number of followers that each page has is a good barometer of how successfully each social platform is performing. It is also a good way of understanding which platforms are popular among your users.
Share buttons allow the user to share the content of your website onto a social platform of their choice. This allows your content to get distributed out to their followers. Allowing customers to share your content can broaden the reach of your brand online and reach new potential customers.
Share buttons should not be liberally applied to every page, rather it would be more effective to have share buttons in content that is most likely to be shared by your users. Most popular shared content are blog posts, events and product pages. Additionally, sharing functionality can be added to multimedia, such as a video. A good example of this is on Social Media Today, who allow us to share their blog posts onto Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Understanding which social platforms are popular with your customers can be useful when choosing which platforms you can share your content on, which I will touch on later on.
Social Live Feeds
Another key method of social integration is to have a social feed, which inserts content from your social media accounts into your website. The main benefit of having a content feed is that, if the social media profile is regularly updated, it can allow the content of your website to remain fresh and inviting. It is worth noting, that new content is the key to maximising retention of user traffic in the future.
The best way to integrate social media onto your website is by seamlessly including social content within your existing design. This means it is better to try and include social content using the same colours, fonts, imagery and layouts as the rest of the website. Social media integration is done best when it smoothly fits in with the rest of the website. For this reason, we should try and avoid using a Facebook or Twitter embed, as it is often quite jarring and does not tie in very well with the rest of the site.
One of the most commonly embedded social content is videos from YouTube or Vimeo. This can be done by copying and pasting the embed code from the relevant platform. Embedding content in this way is useful as it allows visually engaging content to quickly and easily be implemented into your website. The additional benefit is that the servers used by YouTube and Vimeo are better than the standard commonly provided by hosting companies, which therefore allows the deliverance of the videos to be optimised for quick page loading times.
One of the best ways to implement a social feed is by using a WordPress plugin such as Instagram Feed by Smash Balloon. The plugin allows the content of your Instagram account to appear on your website. However, it also allows the content to be styled to fit with the rest of your website.
One of the other ways social content can be integrated into your website is by using an API. An Application Program Interface is when a company opens up access to their raw data, that can be used to build applications or websites. APIs are provided by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google amongst others. The content provided by the API is just raw data, which means it by styled to fit seamlessly in with the rest of the content on the website. Please note you will either need programming experience or the help of a developer to make use of this capability.
Open Graph and Twitter Cards
Earlier, we discussed the benefits of allowing users to share the content of your website and covered how specific parts of your website can be set up to be shared with potential new customers.
When our users share content onto their social platforms, we can help maximise its reach by ensuring that the post contains a relevant image and title. A post on social media with an eye-catching image will catch the attention of users and allow it to stand out from the crowd. A good example of this is the Editors music website, as shown below.
This content can automatically get pulled in when a user posts a link to your website onto their social media, by using the power of OG Tags. The OG (Open Graph) Tags are meta information that can be inserted into the <head> section of a webpage.
The beauty of OG Tags is that most of the major social media platforms can use them. This means you set them up on your website once, and several social platforms will pull this content automatically. It would be worth finding out what social platforms are popular for your users and making sure the OG Tags are set up to work on that platform. The one notable exception is Twitter, as they require some specific tags of their own, called Twitter Cards.
The required OG Tags are the following:
<meta property="og:title" content="Title of the webpage.">
<meta property="og:description" content="Description of the webpage.">
<meta property="og:image" content="https://your-website.com/thumbnail-image.jpg">
<meta property="og:url" content="https://your-website.com/name-of-the-blog-post/">
<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary_large_image">
I would highly recommend that the title, description and image is unique for each product page, rather than use a single one size fits all image for all products. The benefit of having a unique image is that it allows the social reach to extend as far as possible when customers share a particular product.
User Generated Content
Another key benefit of social media is the ability to gain access to user-generated content. This can be any content that came from a source that is out with your organisation. One common example of user-generated content is comments. Comments can provide additional information about a service or a product, that could be used for enhancing your organic search presence online. Comments can be added to a website at the bottom of a blog post by using the built-in commenting features of WordPress, or by installing an external plugin such as Disqus.
Another key part of user-generated content is reviews and testimonials. Customers can provide ratings and reviews on social media such as Facebook. The reviews provide credibility as they are unbiased comments from real people who have had success with your product or service. Aside from social media reviews, the contact form of a website can get set up to allow customers to submit reviews. Once collected, reviews can be shown in a specific section of a website. If there are several reviews, it may be suitable to display them in a carousel. A great example of this is the bedroom furniture store, Casper.
Links from Social Media to Your Website
Most of the points so far in this article are ways to increase the number of links on your website that sends users to your social media. However, providing a seamless experience online for your customers also requires good quality links from your social media accounts to your website. A good starting point would be to make sure you link to each of the main pages of your website. For instance, the main pages that should be given a post on social media would be home, about, services and contact.
One common link to your website that can be posted to social media is new product pages. When a new product launches, give the new page a boost by posting on social media the name, description for the new product and an image. Social posts are more effective when they have an eye-catching image, so be sure to have OG Tags set up correctly, as I mentioned earlier.
Other key pages that are great for posting on social media are content that is likely to get shared. One example of this is blog posts, as they often contain content that compels users to share amongst their followers. For instance, a blog post can entertain and/or educate the reader, therefore, will be more inclined to share amongst their followers as a result.
One of the lesser-known tools for social media and website content planning is analytics. Now, analytics does not create new content itself, nor does it integrate social content on your website. However, utilising analytics to the full can enable you to make informed content decisions on social media and your website that are aimed at your target audience. Common analytics tools are Google Analytics and analytics for specific social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
The first thing to check on analytics is the demographics of your users. Common information that you can discover is age, gender, location and interests. By having a greater understanding of your audience, you can tailor your content to suit their needs.
Furthermore, analytics can be useful in determining how users arrive on your website. In particular, analytics can provide a breakdown of the most popular social media platforms within your audience. This can be useful when deciding which platforms you should be active on. It can also be useful when deciding which social icons and share buttons to add, as mentioned previously.
Finally, another area of analytics that can be useful is user behaviour. For instance, we get to see which time of day that your users are most active on social media. As a result, you can learn when the most effective time is to post content on your social media and therefore maximise the reach of your content. You can also get a traffic breakdown for all your pages, which lets you pinpoint popular content. Having an understanding of popular content informs which type of content you create in the future.
Overall, social media is a great tool that can be utilised to enable your brand to as many potential customers as possible. When deciding which platforms to create an account on, I would highly recommend that you do some research and evaluate how each platform matches the objectives of your brand. Analytics of your website can also be priceless at this critical stage of selecting social platforms to be active on.
When taking the steps that I have discussed, you can smoothly blend your social content and your website into one unified space, and provide your customers with a seamless experience online. Therefore, social media and your website are not thought of as two separate entities, rather one unified online space for your customers to discover your brand.
Image credit: Web Designer Depot, Social Media Today, Editors Music, Disqus, Creative Bloq, Google Analytics