Developing the case for social integration

Social integration

Earlier this year Jeremiah Owyang presented a webinar (in association with Janrain and Badgville) on ‘How to Integrate Social into your Website‘. The webinar, based on research by the Altimeter Group, introduced a roadmap for social integration and explained how websites evolve as part of an iterative process.

In the webinar Jeremiah stresses the importance for companies to have a clear strategy for using social media as part of their digital marketing efforts. Far too often companies are being caught up in the social media ‘craze’ and creating multiple social media outposts without considering the need to provide a clear and engaging online experience for their customers.

A two-pronged approach to social networks

A key aspect of the research that resonated with me was the concept of of developing a two-pronged approach to social networks (see image above): the practice of producing content for multiple social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blogs) but aggregating this on the corporate website. This allows for a company to engage with customers in multiple social spaces whilst simultaneously presenting a collection of these conversations on their online property, i.e. their website.

Over the past 10-15 years a lot of investment has been put into corporate websites and this aspect of social integration minimises the effect of sending hard-eraned traffic and content away and instead looks to keep users engaged on the corporate website where companies have a greater opportunity dictating the customer experience and driving them to a point of conversion.

Creating trusted discussions

People trust their peers and this is a key reason why companies and brands are going to social networks such as Facebook. Trusted discussions among communities are taking place and companies understandably want to leverage this earned media.

Having designed, developed and cultivated an online user experience using the corporate website it is therefore potentially problematic to be sending people away to an external social site that you have either limited or no control over. Social sites and the corporate website should therefore be used in tandem to create a truly integrated social experience.

Case study: H&M

H&M have developed a ‘Social Media Room‘ that integrates social discussions in one key location within the corporate website.

H&M Social Media Room

The H&M Social Media room allows users to read, engage and interact with content within an H&M ‘zone’. What I like about this example is that users can filter the content based on the social networks they want to see content from.

What are your views and thoughts on social integration? Do you have any interesting examples and case studies to share?

  • Manuel

    Interesting thoughts Gavin! At a glance it would seem that the integration of social media is not a matter of if or when but rather how. I looked at the H&M page and at first it took me a while to find and once I was there, it was not clear to me what its main purpose was. Just aggregating social posts? but with what goal?

    One idea would be to merge carefully curated content along their fashion catalog pages. For instance, show a men’s jacket and next to it a fan’s review from facebook or a youtube video of someone wearing it. These could be powerful testimonials for shoppers still making up their mind.

    As you continue to build your case for social integration, what about crafting a roadmap where maybe the first step is to identify a business goal, then specific website sections and the most relevant social channels along with corresponding metrics to track the impact of the integration. Start small, iterate and then add another website section to support the same objective or a new one.

    Curating the content although labor intensive would be well worth it (it might entice the content owner to share those product pages). There are likely intellectual property issues.

    What do you think?

    • Gavin Llewellyn

      Hi Manuel, thanks a lot for commenting. I’m sorry it’s taken me a while to reply but I’m in a different timezone at the moment so it’s difficult to respond straight away!

      I agree that the H&M example isn’t the best – but it’s bette than most. At least they are using social media in a more intelligent way, rather than just including links to their social sites that send potential customers away from the point of conversion. However, as you point out there is definitely soon for improvement and curating tailored social content and conversations around products would be a much more effective approach.

      As for social integration, Jeremiah Owyang and Altimeter have already created a very good roadmap which I used in another of my posts on social integration Even so, I like your point about creating another post that looks at the whole approach – from setting out a business’s social media objectives through to a strategy.

      Thanks again for commenting and sharing your (very insightful) thoughts. I appreciate the chance to talk a bit more about this subject and get another point-of-view.