Leveraging Social Networks to Power Your Website's Content
Multimedia content is a key component of an engaging website. As we wrote last week, text alone just isn't enough for the web. Visitors expect more and you'll quickly lose their interest without a compelling presentation of rich content. And while you could build this content directly into your site, there is often a benefit in leveraging existing networks that specialize in particular types of social content.
Benefits of Leveraging Social Networks
Many social networks have large existing communities of users that are already actively using that website or service to access a particular type of content. In most cases, joining this existing conversation versus trying to start your own just makes good business and marketing sense.
Social network profiles tend to rank very well in search results and as mentioned when we wrote about Conducting a Real World Website Audit, when someone searches for your company's name you want the top results to be content-rich results, such as social network profiles filled with valuable content.
Participating in social networks can lead to meaningful relationships centered around a particular topic or medium. Through genuine participation versus in-your-face, interruption marketing, you stand to create a much deeper and lasting connection with customers.
When streaming video or sharing high quality images, it can often be much easier and cheaper to let these large networks do the heavy lifting and manage the infrastructure needed to deliver this media consistently and reliably.
Opportunities to Use Social Content On Your Site
So, what are some good opportunities to leverage social networks on your site? Here are a few that we've used for our clients.
YouTube makes it extremely easy to embed and share videos and to drop them straight into your site. If you have multiple videos and want to centralize them and allow visitors to follow you, you may want to set-up a YouTube channel.
Flickr is a good way to collect and share photos with an active, passionate group of users. Once posted on the site, it's easy to pull in individual photos or a group of photos and display them on your site.
In some situations, you may want to let Facebook power your site's comments section. This can lead to greater exposure through sharing comments on the visitor's Facebook Wall and also help to reduce spam by discouraging anonymous commenters.
Clicking on a link to have it unknowingly open a large PDF file is just frustrating. Instead, create an account on Slideshare or Scribd and allow visitors to flip through the presentation right on your site.
Many social bookmarking sites provide an RSS feed of your bookmarks which can then be pulled back into your site. If you're already tagging these items for your own use, pull them into your site and become a trusted source of content for a particular topic. Twitter could be used in the same fashion. If you’re already using Twitter to share interesting stories related to your industry, start to tag them with a unique hashtag and then display those tweets in real-time back on your site.
When is it a Fit?
Using social networks to power your site's content may not always make sense. If you prefer to have more control over the presentation of your content and want more oversight of the security and storage of these items you may need to handle them yourself. Also, if you don't plan to monitor these accounts and actively use them, it may not be a good fit. But, if you're looking for eyeballs and are building a flexible, social website, give this approach a thought. In many cases the return can well exceed the effort needed to implement these changes.
Have you had a good or bad experience with embedded social content, either on your own site or when visiting another? Share it below in the comments.
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