Your Website 2.0: Integrating with Social Networks
Your business can leverage the power of the people by taking some of the following steps (in increasing order of complexity):
- Participating (as a hosted community and as an advertiser) on the main social networks
- Pasting simple widget code into your site, employing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other widgets to add basic social content to the web experience you offer
- Using AddThis, ShareThis, FriendFeed, or more robust integrations via Facebook Connect
The advantage of using third-party platforms is that it’s quick and easy, you’ll reach an enormous installed base of members, and those platforms are continuously expanding, improving, and adding new features.
Widgets, or Social Plugins
Basic integrations with your social media presence are available as widgets, so you can display them on your website with a simple cut-and-paste of the widget code. The benefit of widgets is their ease of use—they’re a fast, simple way to enlarge the footprint of your online community and disseminate what its members are saying. But widgets do have shortcomings. They aren’t customizable beyond a few tweaks to fonts, colors, and size. And they can’t be personalized to individual visitors to your site.
Twitter Widgets and APIs
As might be expected, Twitter’s widget offerings are few, clean, and simple:
Embedded Tweets: They allow you to cut and paste any tweet into your website. Embedded Tweets are displayed with functional retweet, reply, favorite, and follow buttons.
Twitter cards: These are embeddable content for your website that look, frankly, a lot like a Facebook wall post. They partner a tweet that links to your content, with a screenshot and link to the content itself.
Product Ratings and Reviews
For e-commerce companies, user-submitted product ratings and reviews are a vital ingredient for earning trust from online shoppers. Virtually everyone today either shops online or researches purchases online. Saturated by a flood of advertising messages, consumers have learned to tune out most commercial messages. They have grown skeptical of the claims of marketers, instead placing their trust in the advice of friends and family.
Connecting with Facebook via Open Graph
The Like button lets a user share your content with friends on Facebook. The simplest incarnation of the button is served up as a widget that allows anyone to share your page’s URL as a story in their Facebook newsfeed—along with a link and a thumbnail image of the page that Facebook creates by screen-scraping your site every day.
To be successful in social media, a brand must be on social media-participating in the major social networks, establishing connections with fans. But your presence on Facebook, Twitter, and the rest is only part of the equation. We’ve come full circle.
To be truly successful and maintain a 360-degree view of your customers, you must incorporate social features into your own website: social sign-in, coupon sharing, gamification, social proof—and richly personalized marketing based on your knowledge of each customer’s likes and interests.