Social media is not a quick fix. That said, there are some seemingly small and basic steps we can take to help current and prospective customers and contacts know where we are on social networks, and as a result encourage them to connect with us there.
Here are six ways to make it easier for people to find us on our social networks:
1. Include social media icons on your website
Including Social Media icons that link through to your social networks is pretty basic but sometimes forgotten.
As important, and often missed, is to code the links for your social media icons so that they open in a NEW browser tab when clicked. If this isn't done your website closes and your social network opens.
If your online visitors are at all like me, they'll feel frustrated that your website closed when they clicked on the social media icon. When all they really wanted to do was have a 'peek' at your social network(s) before returning to your website. If that's the case, chances are they're onto a new website rather than returning to yours.
2. Add social plug-ins or widgets to your website
Particularly for those who are new to your website, possibly checking you out, incorporating a feed that shows some of your activity on Twitter or your Facebook Page may help give visitors a sense of your business.
This also provides an easy way for people to 'like' your Facebook Page and 'follow' you on Twitter, without leaving your website.
For more information and the appropriate code:
3. Include links to your social networks and website on all of your social networks
Look for opportunities to include your website address and the distinct or vanity URL for your social networks in as many places as possible.
This subtly reminds people where they can connect with you online and makes it easy for them to do so.
This raises the next point . . .
4. Use a distinct Vanity URL for each of your social networks
Having your own branded and distinct Vanity URLs for each of your social networks is important. Most of the top social networks like Twitter, Pinterest and more recently Facebook have you create this distinct URL when you sign up for a new social network, but not all do.
Different networks use different names for these Vanity URLs: Username, Address, Public Profile, etc. Essentially they are branded/distinct/Vanity URLs that make your social networks easier to remember and share in print. For instance ...
LinkedIn provides a URL something like this linkedin.com/pub/sue-cockburn/80/293/303/ rather than linkedin.com/in/SueCockburn. The former is not user friendly nor will it be easy to print on a business card. You can however go into your profile and create your own Vanity URL. LinkedIn calls this a Public Profile URL.
To create your Public Profile URL:
- Click on 'Profile' then on 'edit profile'.
- Look beneath your photo on the left side of the page for your existing URL.
- Click on the 'edit' link to the right of your name
- On the page that opens up go to the right side of the page and look for 'Customize your public profile URL'.
- Create your distinct/branded Public Profile URL.
For most of us, Google+ doesn't allow you to create a distinct Username or Vanity URL, at this time, when you create your account. The URL they provide is more like this: plus.google.com/u/0/104293957075840180131
To make an easy to remember path/distinct URL to your Google+ account consider one of these options:
- Create website link that forwards to your Google+ account (i.e. gplus.GeorgeSmith.com) - not ideal but it works
- Use a service like gplus.to to create a Vanity URL gplus.to/JohnSmith
OLDER FACEBOOK PAGES
Facebook now has you create a Facebook Address or vanity URL when you create your business Page.
BUT, if you've had a Page for more than a few months, and haven't already gone into your "Basic Information" settings and created a distinct username or vanity URL, you should do so now.
- Open up the 'Admin Panel' on your Page
- Click on 'Edit Page' and then 'Update Info'
- Look for 'Username' and click on the link to the right of it that walks you through the process of creating your Facebook Address
If you haven't already created a Facebook Address (Username) for your Page, then it is likely something like this: facebook.com/pages/Marys-Spa/173089451105629?fref=pb.
Good luck trying to print that on a business card!
Distinct or Vanity URLs are important as:
- They help make it easier for people to find you on social networks
- They make your social network names simpler to remember and less difficult to find, for you and others
- They can be printed on a business card or other print material - assuming you haven't used a really long name in the branded portion!
A note about Title Casing
It's a good idea to title case your brand specific information in your Vanity URL. Doing so makes it stand out, easier to read and potentially remember.
Consider this facebook.com/suessimplestitches as opposed to this facebook.com/SuesSimpleStitches or twitter.com/bobsautoshop or twitter.com/BobsAutoShop. Title casing can make the branded portion of your URLs readable at a glance.
5. 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. Good for them and good for you.
6. Include your social network addresses on your print material
Share your major social networks on your print material: business cards, invoices, letterhead, in-store and mail out fliers, brochures, newspaper ads. Of course, it goes without saying, these should all be added to any eNewsletters you send out too - as clickable links.
As social media becomes more and more mainstream, these basics will become more and more important.