Connecting your Website and Social Media

Over time you’ve put your business online, piece by piece.  You started with a website.  Perhaps you added a blog. Then you decided to get on the Facebook bandwagon.  And started tweeting.  Maybe joined LinkedIn.  What about a Pinterest page?  How on earth do you connect all these together to form a cohesive online marketing presence??

Firstly, why connect your website and social media channels?

Because for ranking with search engines like Google & Bing, which are now incorporating your social media activity into their search algorithms, it’s becoming more important than ever that they are linked.  The more your web pages get Liked and tweeted, the better.

 

And because, for your customers, it allows them to choose their favoured method of following your business and engaging with it.

 

Secondly, what should you connect?

If you’re going to link out to your FB page, your Twitter account, your YouTube channel, your Pinterest page, etc, you need to make sure you give your web visitors some added value when they get there.

 

  • A Twitter account with no tweets in the past 2 months?  There’s not much point sending a potential new customer there – more likely they’ll get the impression that your business is pretty uninteresting and not worth following.
  • Only 2 things pinned on your Pinterest page?  They’re not likely to sign up to follow that.
  • A Facebook page with nothing but posts that link back to your website? Well they’ve already found your website so what more will they get from joining your FB page.

 

In all these cases, you’ve lured them away from your site to something that doesn’t hold their interest, and they may not bother to return to your site after that.  That’s not good customer engagement.

 

The lesson here is: if you’re going to link out from your website, make sure it’s to add value and keep your visitors engaged with your business – through the methods they prefer AND that you maintain.

 

If you don’t have the time or inclination to keep these social avenues interesting, you’d be better off removing the links to them, or shutting down some of your social media channels to concentrate on the ones where you can add real value.

 

Thirdly, be aware that there are different types of social media links:

  • Those that link from your website to your social platforms (I’ll call them “Follow” links). People will follow you if they think there’s some benefit in hanging around to see what you offer.
  • Those that allow visitors to share something from your website with their own social media platforms (I’ll call them “Sharing” links).  People will share things which interest them (or which might show that they have good taste…).

 

These are executed differently, and have very different purposes and effects.  It’s important to understand the differences and make sure you cover all the relevant pieces.

 

  1. The Follow links are those we discussed above that lead your website visitors out to your social media platforms, where you can engage with them.  Often these links might just be the little square buttons showing the “F” icon, or “T” icon.  I think it’s wrong to assume that everyone is familiar with them, knows exactly what they mean and how to use them.  I prefer to use the larger buttons such as “Follow us on Twitter” (or “Follow us on.. cute picture of blue bird”) and “Find us on Facebook”.  At the least, I’ll include a little pop-up title that says as much.  Better still, tempt them by showing what value they’ll get, eg. “Follow us on Facebook for weekly specials”. Basic square icons versus detailed Follow Me icons
  2. The Sharing links are the ones that allow for easy, one-click actions by your site’s visitors to let other people know about what they’ve found on your website or your blog.You might display a lot more of these, acknowledging that your web visitors like to use a variety of social media – not just FB, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+, but Email, Digg, bebo, FriendFeed, etc.  There are hundreds, but I recommend against adding too many. It can be offputting to scroll through lists of uncommon social networks to find the popular one they want – especially if in alphabetical order when all they want is Twitter…!

    Sharing links
    This is the set of links I use on my blog, which are from Shareaholic.
  3. The Facebook Like button.  I consider this one to be in a class of its own.  Everyone should have this button on their website. You don’t even have to have a Facebook page for your business to use this.  The Facebook Like button on your website doesn’t send people to your FB page, rather it sends a post to their FB news feed to tell all their friends, basically, “I like this website that I just found” and provides a link back to your website page.  It’s also sometimes shown as a Recommend button, which I think is a better description.
    The Facebook thumbs-up Like button

Fourth: How to add social media links to your website?

It’s pretty easy these days to add the various buttons to your website, through some clever providers.

  1. For Follow links, you can get free social media icons at http://www.niftybuttons.com/
  2. For Sharing links, try the free services of https://www.shareaholic.com, http://www.addthis.com/  or http://sharethis.com
  3. For the Facebook Like button, you might find it on some of the above, or go to: http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like/

Some of these also provide you with centralised analytics so that you can see where your website and content are being shared.

 

Fifth, and final point:

Don’t forget to create links in the reverse direction – from your Social Media pages back to your website.  {You can read about this on my post: Is your website central to your marketing?} Your Social media channels should be driving people back to your website, especially if it offers extra information, new products, FAQs, etc. Get your website and social media working hand-in-hand to give your customers – and potential new customers – the full online experience.

Author: RobynRHD

I'm a small business web design specialist with interests in social media and other online marketing methods. As my blog intro states: "Steering small businesses in the right direction with what I hope is practical, realistic advice and useful tips, amidst the constantly changing noise and hype. I'd like to help you sort out what you really need and how to go about it." I'm a proud Aussie, living in Sydney, and an avid fan of Column 8 in the Sydney Morning Herald.