This is a guest post from Kaila Strong . It is part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.
Of late, Facebook has made announcements to unveil changes to users profiles, business pages, and even Facebook’s version of a blog (the ‘notes’ section). It seems the social networking giant is constantly changing and evolving, giving us a change one spoonful at a time. I get it, that’s what has to happen to accommodate for growth, adjust functions for better usability, etc… But it got me thinking: How much time do I have invested into sites like these where- 1) I don’t have much say over the changes they make, 2) I don’t have true authority over my own content, and 3) someday, I might not have anything to show for my endless hours of activity, should something happen to the site.
Questioning how much time you have invested is not just a question for branded business profiles, it’s also an important question for the casual user looking to brand themselves, non-profit organizations, clubs, and groups too. If you are spending hours upon hours per week on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, niche sites, forums, review sites and commenting, it’s worth it to look at your other options. With so much time being spent on social networking sites, some brands may be missing out on other opportunities.
What opportunities are you missing out on?
Other Social Sites
In some cases, branded profiles aren’t successful on big sites like Facebook and Twitter. If engagement levels are unexpectedly low, growth is slow, metrics aren’t in an upward trend, it may be worth a look at your demographic profile. Who is your audience? Is your messaging targeted to this specific audience, or is lack of participation because of functionality onsite?
You might be standing in the way of your own success by limiting your interaction to the wrong sites. Check out other leading sites like LinkedIn, niche sites like iCareCafe (for Medical niche), forums like Wet Canvas (Art niche), review sites like Yelp, or commenting on some of the best blogs in your industry. I like to check out the prospective sites stats on Quantcast.com, and use the info to make decisions on which sites to focus on.
If you want to delve deeper into research start using a new site, and compare the functionality. In some instances, however, building your own social site on your website can solve your problems. Driving traffic from large sites to your own site can give you more control over your information, not to mention the potential for higher conversions since all activity is onsite. The investment may be large to build your own customized site, so weighing out your options will be very important.
Onsite Social Components
There are many onsite components you can customize, which will give your website visitors the ability to interact, and socialize. Adding a forum to your site if you are say, an eCommerce provider is a great way to give users an area to engage, ask questions, find answers, and review products. Optimizing your efforts can help your search engine rankings, in addition to better managing the time you invest into your social networking.
Even just adding a blog to your site can drive traffic onsite, and still allows for some user generated content: comments, and reviews. Don’t forget about plugins, proper monitoring, and cross promotion on all social platforms.
You can see examples of larger brands already integrating more than just the usual social components to their websites. Checked out Skittles lately? They’ve created a very interactive homepage, that changes regularly, and captures their audiences attention. Think about what you can do that will equally engage your public.
Ability to review or vote on products or services onsite: why add reviews? Increase sales and also for SEO. Not to mention the improvements to usability for your visitors. Make sure you monitor reviews, and respond appropriately.
Commenting enabled, and monitored as well. Take into consideration suggested pointers for monitoring comments, and interacting too.
Online forum to help users throughout the buying cycle. Write your own content to help answer most frequent questions, allow users to ask each other questions, and interact. Building a forum can be pretty time intensive, but think of the customization abilities.
Pulling in data from other social sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. You can use a widget, you can use a badge, or a plugin; whichever way you do it, give your users a way to interact using their own favorite social site on your website. Allowing users to sign up for your online community using their preferred site is a good idea.
Games, graphics, and video onsite. Make sure you have the space available, and take into consideration the impact on users experience (slow browsing).
User profiles are where ideas can be shared. Let users build their own space, share their own thoughts, find friends, and upload other information.
Other Marketing Types
On rare occasions, social media just isn’t for your brand. You’ve ran the numbers, talked to the experts, and it’s just not the best return on investment. Determine what your best advertising assets are, and utilize them appropriately. Stop investing a lot of your time in an area of advertising that isn’t proving to be the best use of your time. Don’t just get rid of your profiles: limit the amount of time you spend, and evaluate the tools you are using to manage the profiles. At the very least, you are utilizing the SEO benefits of social profiles, and ability to help with your promotions.
Have you looked at integrating more social components onto your website?
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