Social Media Engagement on Your Site

In our previous post, Design Effective Social Media Community Processes, we examined some do’s and don’ts of community processes.  In this post, we give some tips on modifying your current Web site to be ready for social media.

Engagement on Your Site

Embracing social media will almost inevitably require you to make changes to your enterprise’s current Website. Thus it’s a good time to think about how your current site is organized, how effective it is, and how your site’s visitors are  going to find your social networking features.

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Try to avoid the corporate underpants approach. The term, apparently coined by user experience con­sult­ant Tamara Adlin, refers to sites that are organized completely around the structure of the enterprise, rather than in a way that will satisfy the goals and interests of the site’s visitors. You’ll know you’re showing your corporate underpants, Adlin says, “when your org chart shows up in the primary navigation of your Website.”[1]

Do your site’s visitors really want to know your enterprise is organized into departments, or regions, or brands and sub-brands? Why should they care?

Think about why a person would come to your social media site (OK, any of your sites).

Adlin gives an example of a travel site: “We knew we wanted to go on a ‘trip’ or ‘travel somewhere’ [ . . . ] but, when we arrived on the site, we just accepted that ‘flights’ and ‘hotels’ and ‘cars’ should be thought of, and booked, separately.”[2]

What do your visitors want? Give it to them quickly and plainly. You only have 10 seconds.[3]

How you do this depends on your business. A consumer packaged goods company is going to have a different approach than medical device business, or a bank. But let’s say you have several marketing initiatives. You could organize your community site around these initiatives, with special areas for each. Always make sure you put somebody in charge of responding to questions or comments in each of the sections. People always feel better if they can get a real human to respond to them.

There’s lots more to say about renovating your current site, but it’s beyond the scope of this post. Suffice it to say that if you think you can just graft a blog onto your existing site, you may find that nobody visits it, and conclude that social media doesn’t work. It’s better to integrate social media functions into the fabric of your site, and while you’re at it, take the time to examine your assumptions about the effectiv­eness of your current site.

Next up: Social Media Engagement Plan Contents

Social Media Engagement on Your Site is the 29th in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Media Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

See the previous posts What is Social Media?Social Sites DefinedWhy Social Media? How is Social Media Relevant to Business? First Steps Toward a Social Media Strategy, and Decide What Your Business Will Do About Social Computing, pt. 1

[1] Hide Your Corporate Underpants — Using Personas in UX Design:

[2] Process Pantylines: Why SEO and UX should share a cubicle:

[3] You have only 10 seconds to make a good first impression: