Your website is your online center of operations, but if you use social media as part of your advertising, market positioning and promotional efforts, your presence is scattered across the web.
While establishing a business presence in popular social venues like Facebook and Twitter may be crucial to your online community building initiatives, maintaining that presence can test your endurance and ability to maximize the impact of your efforts. Fortunately, several tools and techniques are available to help you meet these challenges.
Streamline Your Efforts With Feeds
Posting to your company's blog, your Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, and other social media sites can become quite a burden, especially if you post fresh content at least three to four times a week as I recommend. By implementing an effective feed strategy, you post only once, and your content is automatically distributed to your various social media accounts:
- Facebook Fan Page: After creating a Fan Page for your business, access the page, click Edit Page, Edit, Import a Blog, and then follow the on-screen instructions to set up a feed for your blog.
- Twitter: Several free services are available to tweet your blog posts, including TwitterFeed. At twitterfeed.com, after setting up an account, you can add a feed by inserting its address.
- Third-party applications and services: Several applications are available to facilitate distribution of blog entries among multiple social media venues. My personal favorite is HootSuite, which offers the added time-saving benefit of being able to schedule or post tweets or status updates in real time to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously.
Cross-Promote Your Fan Page and Website With Facebook Connect
On Facebook, you have two business goals--turning Facebook members into Fans and Fans into customers. You do this by using your Fan Page to engage with your audience and steer traffic to your company's website. At the same time, you should be encouraging website visitors to become Facebook Fans and distribute your content to their Facebook Friends. Facebook offers several basic solutions to accomplish this feat, all of which are accessible from http://www.facebook.com/facebook-widgets:
- Fan Box: A Fan Box includes the title of your Fan Page and, optionally, a sample of the most recent posts and a list of Fans.
- Page Badge: A Badge is a scaled-down version of a Fan Box. The bare-bones version includes only the name of your Fan Page. You can edit the Badge to include the Fan Page status (a few words of the most recent post), picture and number of fans.
- Share: With the Share feature, visitors can share content on your site with their Facebook Friends by simply clicking a button.
- Twitter link: With Twitter link, you can have Facebook tweet for you whenever you post Status Updates, Links, Photos, Notes or Events to your Facebook
Tip: You can find plugins for most blogging platforms that enable visitors to share your posts via their social media accounts. For example, Add to Any for WordPress allows visitors to share posts through Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and via e-mail.
Facebook also offers some higher-end tools for developers. Implementing these features on your site requires a more advanced skill set:
Publishing to Facebook: This enables Facebook members to publish Status Updates directly from your site, notifying their Facebook Friends of your content.
Comments Box: Facebook members can post a comment about something on your site that appears both on your site and on Facebook.
Live Stream: Facebook Friends can view live video on your site while chatting in real time about what they are watching.
For more about these and other Facebook Connect features, visit developers.facebook.com/connect.php.
Enlist Twitter Users to Spread the Word
You tweet to drive traffic to your site, but what are you doing to recruit brand evangelists to tweet about your business, products and services for you? If the answer is "Nothing," you have work to do. Twitter offers free widgets and buttons you can add to your site simply by inserting a line of code.
Login to your Twitter account, scroll to the bottom of the page, click Goodies, click Widgets or Buttons, follow the on-screen instructions to obtain the code, and then paste it into your website or blog code where you want the item to appear.
With so many social media venues to attend to, you may feel as though your community-building initiatives are becoming fragmented beyond your control. By coordinating your efforts with a few readily available tools, you regain control, focus and save time, too.
Mikal E. Belicove co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Facebook with Joe Kraynak (Penguin Group USA/Alpha Books, 2010), and is a business strategist specializing in content development, market analysis, and messaging/positioning for individuals and businesses of all sizes. Belicove's latest book, 2009 Internet Directory: Web 2.0 Edition, is available now at fine booksellers everywhere, and you can read his monthly column on social media marketing and website promotion, management, usability, and design in Entrepreneur magazine. When he is not working, Belicove can be found musing about the world on Belicove.com and can be reached at Mikal@Belicove.com.