Supporting Social Media Efforts with a Solid Website

Social Media in the Context of Overall Web Strategy

July 8, 2010 by USM Interactive

Last month I wrote an article on our blog about how to measure the ROI from social media efforts. Now I’d like to take a step back, because  before you focus on your ROI, you need to make sure that you have an effective online structure that sets you up for success. This is what we will explore in this post.

Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, ETC… Everyone continues to talk about these social media utilities as THE answer for businesses looking to attract new clients online. This is highlighted when I speak with clients who only want to discuss building a social marketing strategy and have no interest in talking about their website. This approach is problematic for two reasons:

1) People don’t want to interact socially with people who have a strategy for interacting with them; it feels weird. If you are going to use social media tools, you need to use them for their own sake.  It’s when you really invest in them and incorporate them into your day that you can you get the best personal and professional value out of them. For a deeper look at how to avoid this have a look at my Breaking Down the Barriers Post.

2) The main problem I want to address here, is the issue of focusing on social media while neglecting your main website.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that you are a social media for business wunderkind. You Tweet about relevant and interesting things that people in your area want more information about. Your Facebook fan page is engaging and enjoys lots of attention from an interested and engaged following. You constantly link between Twitter, Facebook, your blog and website. Everything is going swimmingly, except you have been spending so much time on social media that your website is out of date and clunky. This is a problem.

The way that you get noticed and attract business online is by offering good information, in increasing quantity, through a number of media.  Let’s look at an example of how this might look in practice: A potential customer sees you on Twitter over a period of time because you both use the same area specific #tags.  Eventually they start to follow you because they like what you have to say. As they read your Tweets, they get increasingly invested in you. You Tweet, they respond, and you develop a Twitter relationship of sorts.

Figure 1

This continues and one day you tweet about a blog post that you wrote, and they follow the link and read the post. After they have read it, they like your take on the subject and make a habit of reading your blog. Through this online relationship they learn about you and what you do.  Eventually they find themselves needing your services, whatever they may be, they go to your blog (which hopefully is integrated with your website) and dive a little deeper, looking for more information on how they can work with you.

This is the point where your website takes the pass from your social media efforts. It’s the point when your website needs to be able to convert that persons interest into action through clear content, intuitive navigation and attractive conversion tools. If at any point in this process there is any confusion, or a break in the stream of information – a broken link or an outdated page – you are giving the person the opportunity to remember that their sister’s boyfriend’s brother does what you do and they can just call him. If we were going to look at this unfortunate situation visually it would look like Figure 1.  However if your website is up to date and in line with your other online efforts we would see a much more effective system that would look more like Figure 2,

Figure 2

The longer your sales process is and the more involved your service, the more important an effective website is to your online strategy. A restaurant could get away with an active Twitter account and no website, but a Realtor or contractor needs to build more trust to achieve that initial contact. Because of that need, their web presence must be more robust and consistent.

In short, the website is the foundation on which all other online efforts rest. Active social media engagement that links back to a broken, dated website will not convert your visitors into contacts, and that is a waste of a huge opportunity. So make sure that you get the most out of all of your online efforts by assuring that the systems supporting your social media efforts are clean, consistent and professional, from Tweet to contact form.