Extending your social strategy to your site

Evolution of the Social Corporate Website

Last week Jeremiah Owyang took part in a webinar in which he offered best-practice advice on how businesses should integrate social media within their corporate websites.

Some of the key take-aways from the webinar include:

The business case for social integration

  • Research proves that customers trust each other more than a brand’s messages. We rely on family, friends and product reviews to inform our decision-making
  • Research from Altimeter indicates that social integration within corporate websites is a key priority for many businesses
  • It’s therefore important for corporate websites and social channels to work in tandem with one another, not as separate entities

The viral loop

  • The Viral Loop framework (see image below) shows that a community will bring more people to your website over a period of time
  • This backs up the case for using social media and the corporate website together: don’t put all your investment into social networks. Instead, use them to bring traffic into your website

The Viral Loop

The evolution of the social corporate website

Jeremiah Owyang and the Altimeter Group have devised a roadmap with 6 stages to social integration (see top blog post image):

0. No integration

  • Basically, ignorance is bliss. In other words, websites in this category do not integrate social media into their websites at all and are therefore unaware (and unknowing) of the benefits integration brings
  • Trusted discussions about a brand are taking place elsewhere on the web and the corporate website is not reflecting this

1. Social linking

  • This is where a corporate website says “Follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook”
  • This is simply serving a social network. Although social linking encourages growth on a brand’s social channels, it is sending traffic away from the corporate website

2. Social publishing

  • This involves sharing mechanisms that encourage recommendations or referrals by triggering a ‘social alert’ as a form of endorsement
  • Examples include the Tweet and Facebook Like buttons, the latter utilising Facebook’s Open Graph

3. Social aggregation

  • This stage is about bringing content from a social network into the corporate website
  • This can be achieved through basic feeds (which is not recommended), curated or contextual content (where different content is aggregated depending on the nature of individual web pages)
  • The major benefit of this approach is that it is bringing trusted discussions into the corporate website so that the user has a much richer brand experience

4. Social context

  • This level is where users authenticate using their existing credentials (e.g. using social sign-on) and can therefore connect with friends or followers within the corporate website
  • The key aim is to get to a stage where a corporate website offers social + contextual content: content based on a user’s profile data and what their friends like!

5. Seamless integration

  • This level does not currently exist and is Jeremiah’s vision of the future!
  • Seamless integration is where users can no longer tell the difference between a social site and a corporate site
  • The advantage of getting to this stage is that it will allow a range of stakeholders to mix together on one site and accelerate the viral loop effect, thus brining in new members

 

The overall message to take away is that to effectively integrate social media into a corporate website you must have a clear plan and vision. For example, sites that are simply ‘social linking’ without a coherent strategy may be doing themselves more harm than good. In order to integrate social correctly you have to make an intentional step in the direction you want to go.

These are just a few brief notes so please watch the full webinar for a far more detailed and comprehensive look at all these aspects.