The purpose of your website is to encourage people to take action. Period.
Now the actions might vary -- like joining e-mail lists or donating money -- but regardless what the specifics are, your website's value is the net of action it encourages.
Two critical areas of action on your website are:
The reason why these two areas of action are critical, is that they help build your fan base, amplify word-of-mouth, and increase traffic to your website.
Let's take an example:
Someone finds your website in a Google search and decides to share a very useful article from your blog.
If they share it on Facebook, the resulting visits are essentially by word-of-mouth. If they shared on Twitter the resulting visits are people interested in the topic of the article. In either case, social sharing will eventually result in new email supporters, donors, etc.
Six Ways How To Make Your Website More Social
Below are six ways you can make your website more social. Keep in mind that the ease or difficulty of making these changes is related to your technical abilities and resources, and your website's software.
1. Create Awesome Content
There's a reason why you've heard this a million times. People don't share boring content. And even on the rare instance that someone does share a boring video or a blog post, it won't get that far anyhow.
You owe it to your people and the cause to become the best creator/curator of content you can be.
2. Add Sharing Plugins
If someone has to copy the URL from your website and paste it into Twitter in order to share it, you're uninviting people to your party.
The Digg Digg plugin (the one you see to the left of this blog post) includes all the major social media sites and then some. The folks over at Buffer own this plugin, so you can bet that it's very reliable. And if you don't use WordPress for your website, check out their Buffer Button.
3. Add Facebook's Social Plugins
Websites that integrate Facebook's social graph tend to have much more traffic and loyalty.
Facebook plugins allow you to easily add a variety of different Facebook features to your website, like social comments, a recommendations bar and even Facebook login. A WordPress plugin is also available.
4. Use Huge Images
Lately it seems like people are sharing pictures more than ever before. Pictures of cats (of course), politicians, and even sharing pictures with just words!
Why? Well, for two reasons:
People are more likely to scan, read and share an article on your website if it's got an attractive image that goes along with it. They'll take that image and pin it on Pinterest or post it to Facebook. Read this post for optimizing your website for Pinterest and this one for Facebook.
5. Invite People to Connect
Instead of sticking social media outposts in a sidebar or below the fold, dedicate a single page on your website site for social connecting.
Something you can do right now is add a Facebook like box to your website, which allows you the ability to display the faces of people who've liked your Facebook Page.
6. Acquire Emails with Facebook Login
Many email marketing services, like Aweber, offer a Facebook connect option for their web forms. This feature makes it easy for people to join your e-mail list simply by authorizing an With Facebook. In most cases, the opt in form is pre-populated with their name and e-mail. Check out the example on this page.
Putting It All In Context
The most important aspect of making these types of changes to your website is understanding your community. Go back to the personas you (hopefully) developed and ask yourself they'd share your content and connect with you on your outposts.
How have you made your site more social?
Follow John Haydon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@johnhaydon