I’m in Vegas. PubCon Las Vegas will kick off later today and unleash an almost unhealthy amount of information on the topics of Internet marketing and social media. In preparation for the next week, I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a site “social”. What does it really mean to create a “social media friendly” Web site? And what are the small things SMB owners can do to give themselves a head start?
Here are a few things that jumped out at me. Feel free to add some of your ideas in the comments.
Socially friendly sites are dynamic. That’s what attracts people and draws them in. They don’t want a static site that’s the same each time they visit. They want to engage with sites that are constantly changing. That are fresh. This why doing things like adding a blog, using widgets, and finding ways to bring what you’re doing offsite back on, are so important. Dynamic Web sites attract more links, they encourage users to keep visiting and they give people a reason to engage with you on a more consistent basis. These are all things the search engines are looking at and they’re very important to the success of your site. Make sure you’re adding dynamic content to your site. What makes up dynamic content? Check the blog tomorrow!
Tell me when this sounds familiar:
- You go to comment on a blog but can’t figure out how.
- You want to share a great post on Twitter but don’t feel like shortening the URL yourself.
- You’d like to bookmark a post on Delicious but don’t want to look silly if you use the wrong tags.
- You’d like to email the post to a friend but there’s no option to let you do that.
If you want people to share your content (which you do), make it easy for them to do that. They’re not going to jump through hoops, but if you leave the breadcrumb trail for them, they’ll probably follow it. Be smart by finding ways to integrate Twitter into your site, remove obstacles to comment forms, and removing social barriers wherever you can. If you’re on WordPress, familiarize yourself with essential WP plugins to that will make your site more user- and social media-friendly. A lot of it’s already out there for you.
Support Your Supporters
Thanks to social media, people want to be rewarded for supporting you. They want to know that you heard them, that you read their comment, and that you noticed their passing you around to their friends. There are lots of different ways to show support to the people who support you either by linking, retweeting, commenting, or passing around your content. You can do it onsite by using plugins to recognize the most frequent commenters, creating member boards where users can rack up points for contributing or picking customers to highlight in your blog or newsletter each month. You can also support them offsite by doing things like sending emails to say thanks, offering freebies or giving out discount codes to people who perform a certain action.
Say Yes to Mashups
Resist the urge to ironclad your content. I know it’s hard, but the more open you are, the most connected your users are going to feel toward you. Instead of freaking out when someone uploads one of your commercials to YouTube, challenge them to do something cool with it. Host a contest for the best commercial mashup. Let them take your photos and Photoshop them in cool and unusual ways. Challenge them to use your jingle and make a video around it. Have them take your product out in the real world and video tape their experience with it. The more you can bring them into your community, the more loyalty they’re going to feel towards it. Don’t just make it easy for them to share your content, make it easy for them to take it and mess it up a little.
Get involved in your own community, but remember that it’s not always about you. Get to know your community members and learn about what makes THEM happy. What are they working on? What are they doing? When you know, get involved in what they’re doing and offer help where you can. Find outside communities related to yours and get involved. You’ll drive people back to yours but you’ll also show that you’re not just about yourself. By conversing with other communities, you create more buzz and recognition for your own.
What are some ways you’re making your own site more social and user-friendly?