(Preface: it took me soooo much longer to write this blog than it would have taken me to configure all of these social media integrations in a website CMS! In most CMS (Content Management System) tools integrating and pulling in feeds etc is a standard website "module" or "widget" that your website developer can easily configure for you. This blog is meant to help those who might not have the benefits of a website CMS...as well as serve as a reminder to those who do.)
For my Friday blog I thought I would create a simple "social media integration" checklist for you, along with a "How To Do It" section as well.
Let's dive right in. When a visitor comes to your website, you will want to make it as easy as possible for them to:
- Access your social media channels.
- See your latest social media activity, without necessarily having to leave your main website.
- Promote your nonprofit website content on their social media channels.
- "Subscribe" to your social media based content (i.e. blogs) without leaving your main website.
Access your social media channels (Put them up really high on the page - every page!)
Your nonprofit might be present on a number of social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, Google Circles, Flickr & YouTube. You might also have a Foursquare or LinkedIn account for your organization.
It should be very easy to find links to those social media accounts on every page of your website. On many nonprofit websites I visit I find the social media icons on the bottom of the home page, and they aren't present anywhere else. If a user happens to land on a page other than the home page and is looking to "connect", you might lose the opportunity to engage.
Go on to a site such as Iconfinder and you will find thousands of icons that you can use (check the licensing terms) to put little social media icons on your website. I recommend the upper right hand corner of your pages in order to maximize visibility for the site visitor.
Once you have downloaded your icons, simply ensure that you link each icon image to the proper social media channel. For those using a website CMS, adding the link will be done in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) text editor. For those who have to wrestle with HTML, you will be adding a hyperlink around the image.
See your latest social media activities from your website
It's quite easy to grab a widget from Twitter that will pull in your latest "tweets", or a tool from Facebook that will let you show your most recent activity.
Integrating Latest Tweets
Here's how to integrate your latest tweets into your website. Visit https://twitter.com/about/resources once you are logged in and click on Widgets.
Next click on My Website, then Profile Widget (because in this case we are embedding your most recent tweets). If you want to embed something different, select the appropriate option for you.
You will now be presented a simple screen where you can customize your Twitter widget, including number of tweets, colors, and dimensions. When everything is looking good, click on "Finish & Grab Code".
You will be presented with a bunch of lovely HTML code. This needs to be embedded in your website. For those nonprofits using a website CMS (Content Management System) such as Drupal, this is fairly easy. You will simply create a new "Block", then in the WYSIWYG text editor, click on the HTML icon (or what ever it is called in your particular CMS configuration) and paste in the code you copied from the Twitter widget tool. Once you have created your new Block of Tweets, place it in the proper section of your website (eg. sidebar, footer etc).
For those who aren't using a CMS you will need to determine where on your website template this code needs to be pasted.
Integrating Facebook Activity
Facebook makes it easy to add their Social Plugins to your website.
To begin, visit http://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/ and determine which of the social plugins you wish to use. I'm going to go after the Facebook Activity Feed in this example.
After clicking on the Activity Feed link you will be presented with a window to customize your Facebook Activity Feed. Unlike Twitter you do not have much control over how this box will look on your website...unfortunate, but I guess that is part of the Facebook "branding" control!
Once you have configured your Activity Feed block click on Get Code and you will be presented with a window with slightly more complicated instructions than the Twitter ones. There are two steps here.
The first step tells you to paste the code right after the <body> tag of your web page. You may want a techie to help with this part. It essentially is a universal shout-out to Facebook from your website saying "Set me up with my link to the Activity Feed".
The second step tells you to paste the code precisely where on your website you want the Facebook Activity Feed to appear on your nonprofit website.
Once you have pasted this code, then you have now presented your website visitors with both a Twitter feed of your latest tweets and a Facebook feed of the lastest Activity on your website such as content that was "Liked" or "Recommended".
Promote your nonprofit website content on viewers social media channels
If a website viewer likes what they are reading on your nonprofit website, you want to ensure that they can easily share this with their friends via whatever social media channel they prefer to use. There are numerous applications out there to make this easy for you to do. Two of the most popular are ShareThis and AddThis. I haven't gone through all the steps of trying to configure and embed these, but from a cursory glance it appears ShareThis requires a sign-up, whereas with AddThis you can skip that step.
In both cases, much like with the Twitter Widget and Facebook Activity Feed above, you will receive HTML code that you will need to embed in the appropriate locations on your website.
Subscribe to your social media content (i.e. your blog!)
You want to ensure that all of the hard work you put in to writing your blog is maximized. Presenting an RSS (really simple syndication) icon on your blog feed is a great way to promote engagement.
If you hover over the RSS icon below you will see that I have linked it with the IT For Change blog RSS feed. Click it and you will be brought to a window to subscribe to our blog [Please do subscribe! I'd appreciate seeing that people are indeed reading this!]. Your website should be offering the same functionality. My link goes through http://feedburner.com because I want to track the number of subscribers to my blog. You may or may not wish to do this (why not, it's free!)....but essentially you will first need to ensure that you have configured your blog to offer an RSS feed at a given link. Ours is at http://itforchange.org/blogs.xml. This is the link I had to supply to FeedBurner in order to properly track my subscriber stats.
If I hadn't used FeedBurner you would have clicked on the orginal blog feed and seen an opportunity to sign up to receive our blog like this:
Summing it all up
It's all about integration, opportunity, and making life easier.
- Ensure your website and social media are integrated.
- Take advantage of every opportunity to increase engagement, using "ShareThis", "Like" buttons etc.
- Make life easier for your website visitor by putting feeds, tweets, and links where they are easy to find.
The results will begin to show, month after month, on your website analytics reports. You are tracking your analytics aren't you? Well...that's another blog entirely!