Are You Leveraging Social Media and Community for Your Website?

Your website and your users' interactions should not be in separate silos. The two can work together in a cohesive online environment where information and resources are constantly circulated. The ideal online experience can be achieved by bringing your collaborative networks together.

Any website can gain valuable traction with the help of social channels and online communities. Think about the time and effort your staff spends trying to engage users and prospects on social channels, and how much value you're seeing in return. Not meeting your expectations? Then maybe it's time to consider a better balancing act that includes an online community or redoubling efforts on making your existing website, online community and social channels a place those users can't do without.

At Higher Logic we like to encourage clients to use social media in conjunction with their online community platform, to be omnipresent. Whether you have your own community, encourage users to participate in industry communities and forums, or simply need to bolster your activity on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, it's important to encourage active conversations and knowledge sharing.

Bringing Your Communications Channels Together

The ROI of a social campaign can be hard to measure if you haven't set concrete goals. The impact of your campaign is often described in terms of likes or mentions–considered to be intangible results for long-term engagement.

What if you've put all of your time (or money) into one channel or platform? Social media sites are incredibly popular and free (the time your staff spends managing them is not), so many organizations believe their engagement strategy is best spent on one of those channels yielding the most shares or likes.

Keep in mind: LinkedIn's announcements over the last year indicate the company will shift to a marketing automation platform model. What will that mean for the community and connections you're spending time and resources you're building? Facebook isn't winning any engagement awards, either: recent reports from [email protected] and Forrester show brands' Facebook posts reached just 2 percent of its fans and less than 1 percent of fans were interacting with each post.

These examples aren't meant to scare organizations away from social media. Instead, any organization should evaluate its current member engagement strategy to make sure it's balanced and focused on what their specific member community likes best.

Quick Tips for Better Online Engagement

No matter the platform, here's your quick-check for online engagement:

  • Find your people. It can be users already interacting on your social channels and online community, or industry experts, influencers and prospects you want to connect with–find the conversations that are meaningful for your organization.
  • Make it easy to get together. Share other relevant stories and posts from your industry. Create a hashtag to share quotes and resources on Twitter. Start a live chat on your online community after a successful conference or in-person event. The most important part of your engagement plan should be the question, "Is it easy for me and my users to participate?"
  • Share often. You have your people and your plan, so now go forth and spread the word. Build on what you already have available on your website and community. Don't be afraid to share evergreen content–you will have new users who will find and see your resources with fresh eyes.
  • Measure the fun. Use metrics available on social media and reporting within your online community to figure out what works in your engagement plan. You can integrate this into your customer surveys and feedback to look at the big picture results from balancing social media and community.

This blog post was written by Caitlin Struhs, Marketing Editor at Higher Logic.

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