Building an online presence for your brand is hard work. Especially social media. It's not a 'set it and forget it' strategy. Not only does it require a regular investment of time, more and more it requires an investment of cash.
A website that remains static and unchanging no longer serves most businesses well and, on the social media front, Facebook business Pages almost always need an investment in promoted posts or advertising to see any real traction. This is likely to become truer of the other more popular social networks over time too.
And because of the time and financial commitment you're investing into building your brand online, it makes sense to make it as easy as possible for people to know where you are online and how to connect with you there.
The following six ways for helping people to find you online aren't complicated. And they are a few of the ways you really can pretty much 'set it and forget it'. Yes, a bit of time is needed up front to get things set up. But, once you've taken care of setting things up, you're pretty much done.
1. Add your social networks as clickable links to your email signature
This allows people to see the social networks you're on and connect with you, or check you out. It's also serves as a subtle reminder of where you are online.
2. Have icons and links to your social networks on your website
This one is pretty basic stuff but I'm surprised how often these icons and links are missing from websites, or the icons are there but they don't lead anywhere.
Here are a few things in particular to watch for:
- Set social media links to open your networks in a NEW browser window. It's always best to have any links to external websites, including to your social networks, open in a new browser window. Thus visitors can check out your social network and once they're done your website remains open and they can continue to browse through it, should they so desire.
- Place social media icons so they are readily available to website visitors. At the top of a sidebar or at the top of the page, in or near the header area. You could include them in your site footer, as well as close to the top of the page.
- More and more people are viewing websites on their mobile devices. For this reason, make sure social media icons are large enough, and/or have enough space between them, so that they are easy to click on smaller devices too.
3. Add social plug-ins or widgets to your website
Include feeds from social networks like Facebook, Pinterest and/or Twitter on your website. These will show visitors you are active on social networks and give them another way to connect with you. It also provides an easy way for people to 'like' your Facebook Page or 'follow' you on Pinterest and Twitter, without leaving your website.
For the code to add a Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter widget to your website, go to:
4. Have links to your website and each of your social networks on all of your social networks
Look for any opportunity to include your website address and links to your social networks across your varied online networks. This subtly reminds people where they can connect with you online and makes it easy for them to do so. This may mean including the link typed out in the written 'About' section, as a hyperlink, and/or by adding the links in an area provided by the social network.
5. Create a custom URL for each of your social networks
Having a custom URL (think vanity URL) for each of your social networks makes it easier for you to remember and share the web addresses to your social networks with others. Ideally, the branded portion of the URL is consistent across various social networks, making it easier to remember.
For instance, twitter.com/JoesPizza and facebook.com/JoesPizza is better than twitter.com/JoesPizzaShop and Facebook.com/JoesPizzaPlace. Or, twitter.com/SharonRudner and Facebook.com/SharonRudner is better than twitter.com/SGRudner and Facebook.com/SharonRudner.
Twitter, Pinterest and more recently Facebook (but not always) have you create a custom URL when you sign up for your account. For LinkedIn and Google+ this is not automatic. However, LinkedIn does allow you to immediately create your own custom URL. The process is simple and is detailed in step #1 in the article 6 LinkedIn Profile Areas Users Shouldn't Ignore.
Different networks refer to custom URLs in different ways, for instance: username or public profile. But essentially your custom URL is the website address others use to view your public profile. Having a custom and easy to remember URL makes it easier for you to remember and share your social networks in print, verbally and online.
When creating your custom URL it's a good idea to title case your name, when you create it and when you print it anywhere. Doing so makes it stand out, easier to read and potentially remember. Most, but not all, social networks allow you to do this.
Consider how much more difficult it is to figure out facebook.com/suessimplestitches ortwitter.com/bobsautoshop as opposed to facebook.com/SuesSimpleStitches or twitter.com/BobsAutoShop. Title casing makes the unique portion of your social network URL readable at a glance.
6. Include your website and social network addresses on your print material
Share your major social networks on your print material - and not just the print material that is strictly marketing! Add them to your business cards, invoices, letterhead, in-store and mail out fliers, brochures, newspaper ads, and anything else you can think of. They should also be added to any eNewsletters you send out - as clickable links.
In our socially networked world, it makes sense to make it as easy as possible for people to find you online . . .