Social media continued to grow in 2011 and now over 46 percent of people globally access social networks every day. In America, two-thirds of online adults use social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn. Social media is no longer the thing that the hip young kids use. Rather it has become something everyone participates in daily. Not only is it extremely important to create a company presence on these social platforms, but integrating social media tools into your website and blog is a must.
"Social sharing" your website content
Social sharing is enabling users to share content or something they have done on your website with their friends and colleagues on vari ous social networks. As content is shared across these social networks, referral traffic grows. This in turn increases your website ranking in search engine results.
This is particularly important with Google, the dominate search engine for the web on desktops, who is now pioneering search on mobile devices. In June 2011, Google launched their social network called Google+ to combat Facebook's dominance. In just two weeks it had 10 million users. After 4 weeks it had reached 25 million users. In a 1 month period Google+ had as many users as Facebook had after 3 years. With these numbers, incorporating Google's +1 button into your desktop and mobile websites so Google+ users can +1 your content is a "must do".
One common implementation of social sharing is often seen on product pages of online stores. When social sharing icons are available on product pages, your visitors can quickly share the link to the product page with their friends. For example, BestBuy.com has a product sharing box on each of their product pages.
Extending social sharing with comments
Instead of simply providing the ability to share pages and activities on social networks there is extended value in giving the visitor the ability to add commentary to what they are sharing. This commentary could be an endorsement of a product on your website or asking a question on content that you published. This feature can generate a lot of word-of-mouth referrals since each time a visitor leaves a comment, it can be cross-posted to their Facebook feed, with a link to your story. Then any reply posted on the visitor’s Facebook wall also is synced to the page on your website.
As some website owners know, allowing user comments can also have a negative effect. Impolite comments and spam can jeopardize the professionalism of your website. However, using Facebook's comment box on your website can greatly improve the quality of comments over a traditional anonymous or non-validated registration system. By tying a real name and Facebook account to every comment, people are much more reluctant to post flammatory comments.
Integrating social media login
With more than a billion people using social media networks, most of the visitors to your website already have accounts with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo! and LinkedIn. With new technologies you can now empower your visitors to use these existing accounts to sign-in to your website or online store with no further registration. According to a Janrain study in December 2011, 66% of people prefer social login to the old-school username/password method.
The advantages of using an existing social media login to access your website are:
- Eliminates the need for your visitors to remember an additional username and password
- Creates a simplified registration and sign-on process which increases login conversions
- Offers the ability to collect valuable social profile data to improve personalization
- Provides a low cost integration process with minimal maintenance costs
Tungle.me, an online scheduling tool, has provided its visitors the ability to use one of their existing accounts to access the secure area of the website. For those users who may not have an existing account they continue to offer their own propriety user account system.
Search engines are now considering your social media footprint to determine the importance of the content on your website. The key to better ranking in search engines is to get more people talking about your product and using social media outlets has become the quick and easy way to spread the word.