Many websites thrive with social networking site integration; it's de rigueur for garnering many new visitors and followers, but does that mean your business should follow suit and join the ranks of the socially networked and connected? It's probably a good idea for most businesses that generate sales and revenue from the general public, but not so much if your business works mostly with other businesses or is already working within an established, successful, and well defined B2B model.
Many organizations have not taken the social networking leap; for whatever reason, it has not been on their radar, or they just don't see the benefits. And in some instances, organizations have tested the Facebook advertising waters and have opted to pull out, like General Motors (GM) for example. GM announced that it has plans to quit its advertising on Facebook due to low impact numbers; however, it will still keep the Facebook pages to market its vehicles.
If your business website does not currently use social networking, specifically Facebook, to connect with customers your organization may be losing out on a potential revenue stream. Does your website already use Facebook to make customer connections, and if so, how do you improve your Facebook Insight Reach, and how do you get your customers to share and talk about your company and products? You probably already know that word of mouth is one of the best ways to capture new and loyal customers!
A recent report from comScore Data Mine explains how social media accounted for 16.6 percent of all U.S. online minutes at the end of 2011 and is on track to surpass Internet portals as the most engaging online activity in 2012. The report also reveals that Facebook continues to lead as the driving force behind a shift in consumer behavior accounting for the largest share of online minutes across the entire web in 2011.
Points to consider when integrating Facebook into your website
- Usability - While Facebook has taken measures to handle the problems associated with its user experience, it continues to exhibit issues with usability, in particular a function process that gets updated or changed without notice; for example, the way notifications are shared between friends. Another example, the new timeline functionality for user profiles, has been a point of distress and a learning curve for many users.
- Security - As with any Internet technology, Facebook also has had security issues, in particular, third-party applications which gain access to user profile information without the users consent. In general, users also still report trouble with setting their privacy settings, or find that Facebook will reset certain privacy settings without notice. And I don't have to mention the various scams, viruses, hacks, and frauds that get promoted through the platform.
- Target market - Does your customer audience use Facebook? You also need to determine the frequency with which your audience is using Facebook — is it on a regular basis, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly? The answers could tell you if it is worth the effort.
- Resources - Does your organization have the resources to create and maintain content for social media outlets? Starting a social media presence will take effort, mostly in time and talent, and will require a certain level of effort. Keeping a Facebook page recent, current, and updated will require similar efforts utilized to maintain your own web pages. There are integration tools that can automatically update your Facebook pages, but these have to be installed, configured, and maintained.
Does your website integrate with Facebook? If so, how much effort is put into making Facebook a part of your organization's online presence? If not, what are the reasons your organization has not made the social network connection?
Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal government.