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How marketers and brands should develop socially driven sites

How marketers and brands should develop socially driven sites

By Siim Vips, CEO of CMS and CRM software company Modera. Vips manages the growth of the global content software specialist company and its network of partners that build bespoke technology for brands.

Social media has been with us for a number of years, long before it became the hot-topic it is today.  It has been waiting in the wings until technology and especially users were ready to make the most of it, and now it’s here, it’s here to stay.

Undoubtedly, social media and social media marketing will change forms many times as new technologies and user expectations change, but it’s not going anywhere.

There are a number of easily accessible and powerful assets that brands and marketers can call upon when looking to integrate social media into their marketing strategy, however, a level of caution – or level-headed judgement if you will – should be exercised.

Too often we see brands adopting multiple social media assets en masse, perhaps because they are enthusiastic about getting involved or perhaps because they don’t understand the medium and think they must do and have it all.

There is great temptation to rush into adding micro-blogging feeds, video, reviews, building widgets, photo galleries, launching a blog and so on, but at what cost?  A deeper, richer experience yes, but not at the expense of brand equity. 

Brands need to review how they operate and connect with audiences within external environments, but also how they can implement, engage and interact with their target audiences from their own websites.

Combining these approaches is ideal, and this where websites, the heart and soul of many brands that have been born within the digital age or those having to adjust to it is critical.  A website is the digital shopfront of the brand, and any social media assets employed on a site should be about adding value to the user experience.

More than a business development and sales channel, brands can build awareness, their customer base and loyalty through marketing and PR, using social media as a promotional tool, but it should be a much richer goal than this.

Social media can improve the efficiency of communication within a business and how it connects with customers that will be using at the very least social networks and other digital platforms to research, locate, find and review services before they purchase.

Brands can use social media to either use existing off the shelf apps, tools and widgets or more easily to create technologies that can plug into a site to manage a variety of functions, tapping into the requirements of their target audiences. 

Providing the means and encouraging a social experience on a brand’s own site an effective way to focus conversation, encourage loyalty and word of mouth; encouraging new users to the site.

With websites being the heart of businesses now, it makes perfect sense for brands to use a content management system (CMS) and customer relationship management (CRM) to build and manage a host of their business and promotional requirements.  These systems enable them to pull in what they need and when they need it, providing the right platform to work from is implemented from the outset.

Modera’s CMS is adaptable and flexible enough to cater for the integration of the aforementioned social assets, which can be managed by the simple implementation of code with minor programming.

If brands and marketers are using a CMS that is not tied into legacy systems, they will be able to maximise the plethora of applications, tools and widgets from Twitter feeds, calendars, store locations via map apps and so on.

The important thing for brands to remember here, is just because they can add upteen social assets to their website, doesn’t mean they should.  The right social assets for the brand, the consumer and the product should be identified and focused upon.

The benefits for brands marketers is that they can create and use social media tools and technology at extremely low cost and even for free.  In a lot of cases the development needed is minor due to using existing technology content creators, social networks and a host of other third-party tools already developed.

In essence, a flexible site, especially created with a CMS can manage plug-ins to offer useful tools specific to a business needs or indeed marketing activity and campaigns.  A simple example of this is adding video from a third-party UGC site such as YouTube, but in reality it could be a number of other assets that are relevant.

In summary, some of the top line benefits that brand and marketers can explore include the following and that can be considered for website development:

1. A range of business, marketing and promotional technology possibilities that the brand or marketer may not have time to develop in-house or outsource

2. Brands can tap into the best of social media apps, tools and/or widgets - implement them into their site at low cost

3. There are a number of content providers and sources that create the aforementioned - meaning that they can identify specific tools that will useful to marketing, PR and/or sales activity

4. Brands and marketers can bring in the essence of other digital environments into their websites or other destinations and vice versa to connect with their audiences

5. With the advancement of mobile technologies, brands can move into this space and use it via the technologies that are created by third-parties; which an obvious growth area for social media that we still haven’t seen maximised yet.

Improve your  Social Media skills by signing up for the  UTalkMarketing Social Media Skills Accelerator.

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