Over the past several years, share buttons on articles and websites have become the norm. From "follow us on Facebook!" widgets on a company website to live Twitter feeds on a blog sidebar, digital marketers have incorporated social media integration as a simple, tactful marketing practice.
The process of social media integration cross-promotes your channels so they can be more frequently used, shared and explored, said Joseph Kibler, president and owner of Creative 7 Designs Inc.
Here's what you need to know about social media integration, and how you can incorporate it into your marketing strategy.
What is social media integration on your website?
According to Ruben Quinones, vice president of client strategy at Path Interactive and adjunct professor at New York University's School of Professional Studies, social media integration is a marketing strategy that allows you to leverage social channels as an extension of your existing branding and marketing efforts, or as a primary vehicle.
Consumers like to use different forms of communication, and it's important to cater to each preference, said Kibler. If you don't use or integrate certain platforms, it could reflect poorly on your authority and reputation.
"Some may prefer to message you on your Facebook page, tweet you or message you through Yelp versus sending [a] regular email," said Kibler. "If you are not paying attention, you could lose those valuable leads simply because you have not given them the form of communication they prefer."
Why is social media integration so important?
According to digital marketing and social media expert Pam Moore, it takes five to seven interactions before a consumer remembers a brand. Therefore, social media integration is important because it gives your website visitors a simple and fast method to connect with your brand on their preferred channel, which gives you more chances to interact with them. The easier you make it for your customers to interact with your brand, the more conversions you will make. [Read related article: A Marketer's Guide to Social Media for Business]
How can you incorporate the integration into your marketing strategy?
Quinones suggests educating yourself on the landscape before integrating. Figure out which platforms work best for your brand and have the highest growth and audience engagement. You can do this by evaluating like-minded brands, scoping your competition and leveraging any effective tactics.
"Beyond just followers, which is unfortunately the only metric some companies look at, I'd dig deeper and identify other patterns of investment and engagement," said Quinones. "If they are publishing, what is the frequency, engagement rate, response time to comments, etc.?"
Pay mind to your possible consumers as well. They are, in fact, the basis of your success.
"Know your audience and where they hang out online; those channels should be your integration priorities," said Kibler.
While you want to consider your competitors, make sure that your strategy is unique to your brand. There's no single approach that works for every company, so it might be smart to invest in an expert who can help you develop a personalized plan, Kibler added.
Quinones advises defining your goals, asking yourself why exactly you are using social media integration. Your answer can guide how you execute your plan and gauge its effect.
"Periodically, evaluate how you are performing on engagement and customer responses, and adjust accordingly," Quinones said.
If you aren't finding much success, you can expand your visibility by asking your team members to share your content on their social platforms as well.
"Having your employees involved [has] multiple benefits, including amplifying your message," said Quinones. This will also empower them to participate and feel like part of the process of evangelizing the brand.
3 ways to integrate social media on your website
1. Social share and follow buttons
The easiest way to start integrating social media on your website is to add follow buttons to your pages. The website header and footer is where you will often find social links, so start there. If your website includes a blog, add social share buttons to its articles so users can quickly repost, tweet or even pin your content.
2. Social login
If your website requires users to log in, you can incorporate social buttons by allowing users to sign in through their social media profile. Providing users this simple, convenient step can benefit your business by increasing user sign-up rates, as well as gathering social insights that you can use to better market your business.
3. Social photos and videos
Showcasing your social photos and videos on your website is another simple step that can quickly attract new visitors and grow your follower counts. Furthermore, not every business can afford to produce and publish high-end videos consistently, so adding videos from your social profiles can reduce the bounce rate on your website.
If you're specifically looking to increase your Instagram following, you can embed individual posts to any area of WordPress directly through the app. However, adding new posts manually isn't practical, so there are many third-party widgets you can use to add photos, videos or your entire feed to your website.
What are the tools used in social media integration?
Just a few years ago, integrating social media on your website could require hours of uploading individual posts manually or creating custom APIs. Today, there are myriad options to integrate social media on your website.
For WordPress websites, you can search for a social media plugin to embed posts on your page, add share links and much more. Joomla and Drupal websites offer the same functions but call them extensions and modules, respectively. Website builders such as Squarespace, Wix and Weebly also allow you to integrate social media on your site through third-party apps or as a built-in feature.
What should social media marketers prioritize?
Videos are a popular and effective way to introduce your brand to your target market. Create short, digestible, and interesting clips to promote your brand and engage your customers.
"They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words; we like to say a video is worth 1,000 pictures," said Kibler.
Written content may not be as impactful as video today, but it's still crucial on certain platforms (like LinkedIn).
"Creating original, good, well-thought content is still important overall, but it needs to be outside the box in order to cause any kind of engagement," said Kibler. "Old content and any new content created needs to be curated to appeal to voice search algorithms."
It's vital to create opportunities to connect with your audience. A popular way to do this is by adding live chat to your website so customers can get immediate responses to their inquiries, said Kibler.
"Offering countless opportunities online will likely increase the chances of reaching any goals you may have," he said.
Quinones added that your integration should subtly provide a call to action to visit another website or social platform. An example is displaying your social media accounts in your email signatures or providing links to your profiles on your company website.
Sammi Caramela contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.