Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Integrating Social Media Into Your Website

Some notes from the January 19th TechSoup (free webinar) on Integrating Social Media Into Your Website:
Social media account management issues
· The use of social media tools is only effective if it is implemented as part of a broader communications strategy for your organization
· Even if you are just contemplating use of social media tools for your organization, it is worth it to reserve your “virtual real estate” & to do so using a consistent naming strategy (e.g., always branded “CtStateLibrary” or whatever – Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Virtual web2.0 real estate should dovetail with domain name management.
· When you set up accounts, never do it with an individual staff member’s email address (e.g., set up an email alias on your domain for web2.0 account building). Preferred method = have a paid staff member (not a volunteer) do this.
· Have an inventory of all online venues & information about who has ownership access to the accounts. The username/password accessible to backup person (but probably not stored in a larger mgt spreadsheet, due to security concerns) in case primary account holder is unavailable.
· Keep control of your virtual real estate (see the previous 2 points)
· Control and backup your data, as with any other web content. Your Facebook account should be considered another one of your data repositories. But back the data up redundantly and keep it under your control. Web2.0 tools are free and may disappear.
· Privacy: “honor ‘theirs’, assert ‘yours’”. Don’t mistakenly give away your followers’ / fans’ information. Add social media to your privacy policy.
· Monitor and track “channels”. Where is growth, engagement? What are trending keywords/interest points? Monitor usage, statistics, etc., regularly (this firm looks at how the channels are doing weekly)
· 3 essential processes for mgt:
o Message calendaring: have a 3 to 6-month horizon. Your social media messages can have a narrative arc. You must sustain consistent messaging across channels. Send users back to the website.
o Publishing matrix: integrated way for deciding which messages go to which online channels. A spreadsheet. (see: for an example)
o Social media dashboarding: pull together tracking tools on a single site/page to view thinks like keyword tracking, what people are saying about your organization, etc. Use iGoogle or NetVibes page. Radian6 is an excellent tool, but is costly. Ask is your messaging propagating? What are the reactions? Who are your targets, opponents, decision-makers & are you getting through to those you need to get through to?
Deploying social media
· Start with easiest = Twitter, then more complex = Facebook
· Only start if you can commit to regular maintenance of channels
· Each channel has a different purpose, but these purposes depend on the organization
· Always use the social media channels to funnel users back into virtual real estate you hold – e.g., it is a bad practice to put your whole press release on a Facebook status update. Instead, have your press release on your website (or blog) and then use a less formally-worded FB status update with a link to the full press release or tweet out the link to the press release.
· One reason to always move interested users back to your primary web real estate is that those are the only places you actually control. It matters if, for example, Facebook disappears, you only want to have lost references to primary data, not the primary data itself (which is under your control if it is on your website or blog).
· Marketing is key – social media channels, like all initiatives, require marketing to be successful.
· Realize that in social media, you do not control the message. Your audience can say what they want.
· There are several levels at which you can use social networking tools like Facebook, twitter, etc., ranging from the lowest level of end-user engagement, to the highest (greater engagement is an important goal for an organization)
o Announcement service
o Lightweight communication
o Collaborative hub
o Immersive community engagement
· There were several great “spectrums” the presenter offered to make the role, implications, and effects of different web tools clearer to us. All of the spectrums included the elements:
o Twitter
o Facebook
o Blogging
o Email
o Website
Twitter is liable to have the users “closest to your organization” following you. Websites are on the other end of the spectrum, with completely anonymous users arriving at pages from search engines, who may have no interest in your organization.
· The tone & voice of the Twitter channel is generally “first-person singular ‘I’”. It is informal and fun. On the other end of the spectrum (the website), there is little spontaneity, the tone is formal – usually the third-person for the organization or first-person plural “we”

In short, for social media tools to be used effectively and sustainably, they must be planned for, managed, and maintained. They must be part of a broader organizational strategy and must be regularly measured to see if they are meeting the needs of the organization. There is one organization (the Humane Society) that the presenter cited as having a very effective social media presence, but they’ve actually hired a full-time person solely for this purpose.
(Since we can’t even convince libraries that they need to have professional webmasters to manage the websites they control – I don’t foresee libraries hiring full-time social media coordinators. Too bad.)
BTW, Techsoup is offering this excellent webinar again on Feb. 4th. See:

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