July 21, 2011

How to create a more social website

social media icons

 

Integrate social components into your site’s design and function

By Debra Askanase, Socialbrite
and Seth Giammanco, Minds On Design Lab

If you’re considering revamping your website to include social elements like the Facebook Like button, streaming from YouTube, or adding information from a social site through its API, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. There are many ways to “get social,” and so many reasons for doing so. Primarily, it’s about creating a fundamentally engaging experience for the website visitor that brings them closer to your organization.

The process of considering how to get social starts with considering goals.

Why integrate social into your website?

Ask yourself: what do you want to accomplish for your organization using social media? Having a goal seeks to address why you might want to make your website social. By thinking first about the goals, you clear a path for the decisions around which tools you’ll use to get there.

There are five main reasons for integrating social media with your website:

  1. To build followers within the nonprofit’s social media spaces
  2. Create on-site engagement
  3. Develop a sense of community on the website
  4. Raise funds
  5. Create a call to action

In our review of many social websites, we noticed that some websites have at least two primary goals for placing social media on their website. Think about separating your goals into “priority” and “lesser priority.” Don’t be afraid to begin with one or two primary goals, while testing frequently at the outset to see whether or not your goals are being achieved. Gradually, you can add more social media integrations as your initial goals are achieved.

Categories of integration

Categories of integration address what you might do to meet your goals, and how you would do it. While reviewing websites, we specifically looked at the different types of social media that organizations were integrating into their websites. We categorized the (almost limitless) social media integration possibilities into six categories:

  1. Show
  2. Share
  3. Interact
  4. Co-create
  5. Authenticate
  6. Open source

Each category is exhibited by different tools, technology, and/or approaches. Here are some examples of categories and how they might be implemented within a website:

  1. Show – Recent Tweets, Likes, Comments
  2. Share – Like & Tweet Button, E-Card, Fwd to Friend
  3. Interact – FB Live Stream, Hashtag (Tweet Chat), Comments
  4. Co-Create – Shared Content: Mapping, Mosaic, Wiki, Links, Games
  5. Authenticate – FB Login, Twitter OAuth
  6. Open Source – API

Some of the items above are simple widgets and plug-and-play doodads that allow one to take a little snippet of code and incorporate it onto a Web page. With services like Disqus, even complicated features like comments can be added to a page in literally minutes.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are uses of technology to create unique “co-create” opportunities, if not open opportunities, where content can be made available through APIs and syndication for others to use. Check out the Brooklyn Museum’s API documentation for some pretty advanced tech sharing. Continue reading