social networks Corporate web sites are mostly boring. These sites end up being a time and financial drain without delivering the appropriate value to current and potential customers.  One of the best things about the social web, is that it helps your customers to sell for you, by recommending your product or service to others online. Most corporate web sites also do a poor job of empowering customers to share with others, instead relying on testimonials, quotes and videos.

Why should your corporate web site be more social? Many reasons, but a major one is, because you own and control it.  Yesterday Ning , a company that provides a platform for individuals and businesses to build social networks, announced that it will no longer allow the creation of free networks. Many groups and business that were using a free network will either have to starting paying Ning or move the network to another service. Having to pay isn't the real issue, it is understanding that as a business you don't want to be forced to change how you communicate with customers and prospects because a vendor changes its business model.

Instead, improve the web properties that you own for your business to make them more social.

4 Ways to Make Your Corporate Web Site More Social

1. Product Reviews - If you sell a product or a service, even if you are a B2B company that uses a distributor to sell your product, take a lead from some of the major online retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy . On major retail sites it is simple for customers to review products they have purchased. Replace testimonials on your site with review functionality on your product pages. Let your customers help sell for you by putting their product insights along side the information that your business provides.

2. Encourage Commenting - Allowing people to comment and share ideas on your site gives them a sense of ownership. While commenting could be as simple as having a corporate blog , it could also mean things like customer forums or perhaps something like a Dell Idea Storm where your customers provide feedback for future product development.

3. Allow Customers To Curate Content - Keeping a Web site full of engaging content is hard, especially with limited resources. A solution again can be found by giving customers power to submit industry-relevant content that they create themselves or find online. On the web, where content is such a valuable commodity, empowering customers to become curators for the entire industry using your web site, means improved thought leadership and brand recognition for your company.

4. Become a Social Network - Do customers already log-in on your Web site? Many companies have customer log-ins to allow them to make orders, access certain information, or receive product support. If you are one of these companies, what is stopping you from making these log-in experiences more social? Companies in this situation are close to having their own social network. Think back to Amazon, it allows customer to log-in and perform many business functions, but it also gives them social features like forums, product reviews, and much more using the same log-in. If your web site is a social network, you can transition from being a place where customers only come when they have to, to a destination where customers find value.

As search engine optimization changes and social media becomes a bigger part of marketing, companies who build a social corporate web presence on their own site will be positioned for better rankings, more on-site activity and potentially more leads.

Do you have anything planned to make your web site more social?

Photo Credit: 10ch  

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Originally published Apr 16, 2010 9:30:00 AM, updated July 03 2013

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Inbound Marketing