This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.
While many companies’ early social marketing efforts were limited to social media sites such as Facebook, most are now eager to build social capabilities into the rest of their marketing efforts and turn their customers into brand advocates at every touch point.
One of the easiest ways to make your online presence more social is by adding Facebook social plugins to your website. There are different Facebook social plugins to choose from — here are four of the top plugins for business and tips on how and when to use them.
1. Like Button
The Facebook Like button lets users share pages from your site back to their Facebook profile with one click. When the user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user’s friends’ News Feed with a link back to your website.
You can include a Like button next to any piece of content on your site, from a product listing to an article to a video. Otilia Otlacan, founder of online ad news site AdOperationsOnline.com, puts the Like button at the top of every article — she has found that nearly 0.7% of users click on this button to post it to Facebook, quickly adding up to a sizable number of free impressions.
StyleFactory, a crowd-sourcing site for home decor, enables shoppers to vote on which products should be produced and which products should be offered at a discount. The site encourages shoppers to share its products on Facebook and Twitter to help “tip” the deals. When a user “likes” a product, the product is posted to the user’s Facebook Wall along with a message noting how many more orders are needed to tip the deal. This extra push is an innovative use of the Like button.
Tea Collection, a children’s clothing site, also uses the Like button to enable customers to vote on their favorite dresses; the products with the most Likes at the end of the day are offered at a discounted price the following day. Its initial campaign drove more than 3,000 Likes in about 12 hours and a 300% increase in site traffic.
E-retailers should also consider including a Like button as part of the checkout process — customers are excited about their order, and it’s an easy click for users to share their brand loyalty with friends.
2. Like Box
The Facebook Like Box enables users to “like” your Facebook Page and view its stream directly from your website. For starters, you can choose a pared-down box with your Facebook Page name, logo and Like button (as pictured above).
On the other hand, you could choose a more fully featured box that displays how many users already “like”the page (and which of their friends “like” it, too), shows recent posts from the page and allows users to “like” the page with one click.
You may want to stick to the simplified version if your Facebook activity and fan base are limited. This strategy might also net you more engagement — Otlican saw her “likes” jump 31% when she switched to the simplified Like Box.
Some companies even provide an incentive for visitors to “like” their page. Motorcycle Superstore, for example, ran a sweepstakes on Facebook using Extole’s SocialBuilder that encouraged fans to share the Motorcycle Superstore page with their friends. The site experienced a 240% increase in daily “likes” and a 30% growth in total “likes,” with more than 13,000 “likes” generated during the month of the campaign.
Of course, the easiest way to enable visitors to become a fan is simply to put a Facebook icon on your site, either on its own or as part of a social toolbar such as the Wibar from Wibiya.
You can use one of the standard Facebook icons, or even use a custom design, as Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes of MKC Photography did here:
The Facebook Recommendations plugin gives users personalized suggestions for pages on your site they might like, based on what people are sharing. Otlican displays the Recommendations at the bottom of each article — she’s found that nearly 0.6% of readers click on content in this box.
You can even see how this feature will look on your site before you add it — simply enter your website address here, click on the page and it will show you the recommendations Facebook already has for your site.
The Comments Box lets your users comment on your site’s content — whether it’s for a webpage, article, photo or other piece of content. The user can share the comment on Facebook to post to their Wall and in their friends’ streams.
In addition to providing a viral engagement boost to your site, using the Comments Box can also reduce the amount of spam comments on your site. Users will need to be logged into a real Facebook account to comment, and they won’t be able to post anonymous comments. It can makes commenting easy, since many people are probably already logged into Facebook when they arrive at your site.
Ready to make your website more social? Visit the Facebook developers page for instructions on how to automatically generate customized code to add to your site.
Once your plugins are up and running, you can use Facebook Insights to track how they’re doing — check out this step-by-step guide to getting started. Understanding performance of your plugins will enable you to test which ones work best and which locations yield the highest engagement.
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