How To Create a Social Media Website
According to the 2017 Digital Yearbook study, there are 2.78 billion active social media users worldwide, representing over 70% of all Internet users. It is estimated that, by 2021, the social media will attract more than 3 billion users. Figures leave no room for doubts: social media rules the Internet today and any business that plans to succeed should know how to create a social media website and what are the risks and costs of ignoring social media.
What is a social media website?
Any website or app that gathers members around a common interest or goal and enables them to interact and share info can be labelled as a social media website. In this category, we may include:
- microblogging websites
- support online groups or online communities
- collaborative content platforms
Tools to create a social media website
There are three ways to build a social media website:
Choose the beaten track and create a business account on the already well-established platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Pros: high exposure, good content indexing, reduced management costs.
Cons: too general audience, no ownership of the content, no control on the user’s info privacy.
Use CMS integrated tools, to add a social networking value to your website. The most advanced such tools are the plugins especially developed for WordPress.
Pros: control over the content, reduced development, ease of integration.
Cons: features development constraints.
Use white label platforms to create a social media website from scratch and fully customize it based on your business needs. The best known community builder is Ning. Such platforms offer integration of blogs and forums, sharing pictures, groups and events creation, performance metrics tracking.
Pros: Full control over the content, full features customization, better audience targeting, users’ info privacy management, scalability.
Cons: extra financial resources for the integration and maintenance.
Tips to successfully create a social media website – and manage it with ease
- Gather people around a common interest. General conversations and audiences are one of the big social media players’ shortcomings. People need to feel bound by a goal or interest to act as a community. It can be a hobby, a crush on a brand, a professional interest or even the need for support in overcoming a problem like quitting smoking or losing weight.
- Enable users to join you easily. Don’t deter potential members with a 20 fields long registration form. Enable them to join you easily through Facebook or Google accounts and a smooth native sign-up flow. Have a simple yet clear onboarding communication.
- Offer support for user-generated content. Features like articles writing, managing a blog, sharing pictures or videos will fuel your website with content – the asset which will help you move forward in the search engines hierarchy and be easily found. On the other hand, consider extra-resources for curating and moderating user generated content.
- Allow users to interact with each other. One of the rules of thumb of a functional community is interaction. Adding comments, communicating on forums or the on-site contact options will add dynamic to your new online community.
- Go viral. Even if you have created your own social media website from scratch, don’t underestimate the power of the other social media networks. Facebook users count for around 2 billion worldwide (almost 70% of the total social media users). Most likely your users are also Facebook users and, as such, they can share valuable content they find on your site, thus attract new users. Include features enabling them to like or share in one click the content they find interesting. This article may help your website to go viral.
- Address users’ issues. It seems that one of the big pluses social media brought along is the businesses’ readiness in solving their customers’ requests. In a world where the info spreads so quickly, one cannot afford to ignore user feedback. According to a HootSuite survey from 2016, 59% of the Americans with social media accounts think that customer service through social media has made it easier to get questions answered and issues resolved.
- Go mobile. More than 80% of the active social media users are on mobile devices. Responsive design is no longer an add-on, it has become a must if you want to go where your users are.
- Leverage your community through key-members. Online, just like offline, the most effective networking relies on the so-called “information brokers”, able to disseminate information and communicate it further in an impactful way. Information brokers have the power to bring together groups of people apparently isolated. You can recruit them from industry influencers (bloggers, professional specialists, opinion leaders) or you can nurture your most active members and offer them advanced roles like moderators or content curators.
- Measure and adjust. Roadmap your social media journey and set clear objectives and timeframes for achieving them. Give priority to real metrics over the so-called vanity metrics like number of new accounts, number of downloads, number of pageviews. According to specialists, vanity metrics serve mostly for praising; the real metrics like active users, number of share/likes, time spent on-site, unique vs. returning visitors help you assess users engagement and adjust your strategy.
As an HBR study published in 2009 pointed out, “too often, companies isolate their community-building efforts within the marketing function. That is a mistake. For a brand community to yield maximum benefit, it must be framed as a high-level strategy supporting business-wide goals.”
Remember that a significant contribution to some powerful brands’ success was their investment in building online communities on topics that matter for their audiences. Nike has built an online community around the passion for running, Procter&Gamble established a dialogue with teenage girls about the challenges they face as they make the transition to adulthood.
A social media website tailored to your needs is the best way to make a difference for your customers, engage them in valuable conversations and see a long term business growth.