Social-Friendly Brand Websites are a Smart Move

I came across an intriguing article a few weeks back. The gist was that brands interested in building social communities would be better off promoting their own sites rather than relying on Facebook and Twitter. Caught my attention for sure!

Published by Media Post, the social media article cites a new report by Forrester Research that concluded, “Top brands’ Facebook and Twitter posts reach only about 2% of their fans and followers, and less than 0.1% of fans and followers interact with each post.” Those statistics seem shocking at first glance. But when you thing about it, they make a lot of sense. Mega-brands may indeed have thousands – or hundreds of thousands – of Facebook Fans or Twitter Followers. However common sense suggests that only a small fraction of those folks are actively engaged on a brand’s social page when the brand posts or Tweets.

The Forrester report went on to suggest that brands develop their own “social-friendly properties” because “U.S. online adults are nearly three times more likely to visit a brand’s website than to engage them on Facebook.” This is significant because it recognizes that, despite active participation in social media, many brands still have an underdeveloped online presence. Their proprietary websites are not reaching their potential.

The dynamic between social media networks and brand websites brings several thoughts to mind. All point back to those basic, but so very important, marketing questions of “Who, Where, and What?”

Who is our Target Audience?

When working with social media networks, we are subject – at least in part – to the limitations of a specific platform and the expectations of its users. People know what to expect on Facebook or Twitter. They visit a favored social network anticipating a well-known platform with familiar opportunities for interaction. But when we develop our own websites, things are a bit different. We are not limited by a particular format. We can create anything we like. So we need to understand our audience better than ever!  What is their expectation when visiting our website? What would they consider a great experience with our brand? How can we create a social-friendly website environment? These questions merit plenty of thought and should be re-visited frequently.

Resurgence of the Microsite!

Microsites have been around for a long time. Some people love them, some hate them. From my point of view, they give us the ability to create a unique, brand-related user experience. Whether introducing a new line of footwear, launching a new computer game or highlighting career opportunities at our company, a microsite is the perfect place for a focused, engaging brand message. Offering design and graphic flexibility, it can fit under our overall brand umbrella without looking like just another web page. And in terms of user interaction and a social media connection, the microsite provides opportunities for engagement limited only by our imagination. To illustrate the point, the same Media Post article notes a social-focused microsite built by Sony to celebrate the launch of its PlayStation 4 gaming console. You can check it out at

It’s the Content…again!

Thinking about “brand experience” and “social-friendly” websites brings me back to one of the hottest topics of the past few years – Content. As brand marketers, we face the ongoing challenge of generating content that is fresh, relevant and meaningful for our customers and prospects. Then, we are obliged to present that content in fascinating ways that compel our online guests to fully engage with our brand. Easier said than done, but getting our website content right is a must! And if our websites are to be social-friendly, providing a continuous flow of fresh content becomes doubly important.

By the way, none of this is intended to lessen the value of social media in our marketing mix. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer powerful opportunities for engagement when a natural confluence exists between the social network itself, our brand and our audience. Additionally, social media advertising options become more robust with each passing month. But let’s recognize that there is a lot more to the game. Our own branded web properties offer many undiscovered opportunities to create unique content, engage with our audience in creative ways and ultimately build our brand. Let’s take advantage of them!

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