In my view, a social website is any site that invites people to participate by publicly sharing their thoughts, feedback, opinions, links and any content they’ve created. It also encourages them to share their experiences with friends or colleagues – whether on the site or beyond – and makes it easy to do so.
Almost every website today has at least some degree of sociability. If you website doesn’t have that and you want to get started, now is the time. You can rest assured that your brand is being discussed anyway, so why not take the benefits that comes if you bring it back to your site. A good place to get started is to ask yourself where you fall on the Social Spectrum:
Blog with commenting - A brand without a blog is a brand with nothing to say. If you’re just starting out on your social web journey, start here. That’s where we started at EPiServer.
Walls/Bulletin boards - If you believe in your products and your marketing, you’ve got nothing to fear and everything to gain. If you don’t believe in them, you’ve got bigger problems than just your website (go fix those first).
Social bookmarking – make sure that what you say can be seeded easily
Share with friends- If you make it easy for them to bookmark your pages, you’re also making it easy for them to promote your site and boost its search engine rankings. We use Add this on the EPiServer sites. Other tools are Share this and Meebo
Favorites - make it easy for the reader to bookmark and return to your page. Friendly URLs is a must
Contests/Polls/Voting – an audience loves to engage and this is the lowest threshold. Move the viewers to “lurkers” by this easy step.
Rating/Tagging – an easy thing to add, but so powerful. Providing this is also the easiest way to get your audience to interact with you.
Chat/Messaging - More and more social sites let users see who else is online so they can initiate a chat session -- or leave a message for someone who’s not online. Some companies take this a step further, making it easy to contact or chat with their experts, business partners or even their customers whenever they’re online. But think about where you put the chat functionality and that you have it on a page where it is logical for the visitor to potentially want to engage in a dialogue. It could be the start page, but it could also be somewhere else on the site. We are working to improve this on episerver.com
Expert Panels – which will provide the ability to feed great content and start up discussions. Don’t limit yourself to thinking that the experts have to be within our organization, think about your eco-system as well!
Forums - it’s a way to serve a community that’s already there, eager to link up and share their thoughts.
User-Generated Content - Contests, polls and voting are an easy way to get visitors involved without necessarily asking them to identify themselves (though you can do that if you like).