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Whitepaper: How to Socially Syndicate Your Website
Introducing Social Syndication
Social syndication scales word‐of‐mouth marketing to the Internet age. Users are increasingly spending time on social sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Offering widgets so your users can show off what they are doing on your website extends your presence virally to their friends. Social syndication offers three primary benefits: traffic, premium advertising opportunities, and brand awareness. Benefits of Social Syndication Benefit Drive Traffic Description By socially syndicating your site, your users will continually update their friends with their activity on your site. It is likely that their friends will have common interests, leading to clickthroughs to your site as their friends check out what they are up to. Offering a social media package to your advertisers provides your ad sales team with a premium offering and additional revenue. Extending your website’s content on your users’ profiles drives brand awareness among their friends.
Premium Advertising Opportunities Brand Awareness
Depending on the type of content on your website, there are two types of social syndication widgets, user activity and content widgets. While reading this whitepaper, think about your website’s content and which of these types of widgets make sense for your users. Types of Social Syndication Social Syndication Type User Activity Description Examples
User activity widgets show what your users are up to on your website on their social network profiles and newsfeeds. Content widgets show your website’s dynamic content on social network fan pages and your users’ profiles. In addition, content widgets can let users search into your website’s content to find relevant data.
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High scores Favorite recipes Ratings Fashion designs TV show episodes Recipe finder Top rated products
Socially Syndicating User Activity
User activity widgets showcase what a user has been doing on your site. Because user activity widgets are so personalized, user activity widgets are the widgets your users are most likely to add to their social network profiles. A Consumer Ratings User Activity widget on Facebook
User activity widgets drive traffic since a person’s friends generally share common interests and respect their taste. When seeing someone’s activity displayed in the widget or on a newsfeed, they are more likely to click to see what the person has been up to. User Activity on a Person’s Friend’s Facebook Homepage
Users do not like to be directed away from a social networking site, as evidenced by the dismal banner ad clickthrough rates on social networks. Therefore, when a user clicks on an interesting activity item, the source site should be integrated into the social network itself as an iFrame, which seamlessly hosts your site within another site. A Source Site Integrated into Facebook as an iFrame
Identify User Activity Content
The first step in producing a user activity widget is to identify what user activity on your site to syndicate. There are two types of user activity: • • Opinions: Ratings, Reviews, Favorites User‐Generated Content: Text posts like blogs, Fashion designs, Pictures
Go through your site and identify the spots where a user is contributing content. If your site has a profile page that lists what a user has been doing, this is an ideal location to review. If you site does not store any user‐specific activity, you will not be able to produce a user activity widget until the site is upgraded to keep track of what your users are doing.
Publish User Activity Feed
Once you have identified suitable user activity, it is important to edit the list down. Not everything is going to be interesting to a person’s friends. Narrow down the user activity to the core activity of your website that a person will want to show their friends. The activity stream should then be made accessible as an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Feed, a common and simple web standard for sharing data that changes. The activity should be limited to recent activity and ordered in reverse. How to Structure User Activity RSS Feed Feed Feature User ID in URL Description The URL needs a parameter that specifies the user profile name or email address on your site. It is important that the user ID is something that the user knows and logs into your site with, so that they can specify their user name on your site when installing the widget. Give each feed item a clear title that identifies the content that the activity is referring to. For example, for a review site, the name of the restaurant. In order to drive traffic to your site, the feed should have a direct link to the content that the activity is referring to. For example, for a review site, a link to the page on the site for the restaurant that was reviewed by the user. Only put the last 10 or so activity items into the feed, not a person’s entire history of activity on your site. Show the most recent activity first.
Recent Items Only
Ordered in Reverse
If your website contains activity that a user would consider confidential, do not expose that information without the user specifically opting in with a checkbox on their account settings page.
Produce Activity Widget
The iWidgets Data Display wizard will walk you through integrating your feed into a widget that displays your users’ activity. You are guided to identify the portions of the URL that the end‐user should be able to specify in the widget preferences, such as their user ID at your site. iWidgets Data Display Wizard
The wizard creates a fully functional widget that displays your users’ activity. You can fully style the widget with iWidgets’ PowerPoint‐like editor. iWidgets PowerPoint‐Like Editor
Publish Activity Widget
You can then publish the widget as a native Facebook, MySpace, and iGoogle widget. A native widget is superior since it fits into its host environment. On Facebook the widget’s button are blue and it is configured using a canvas page. On MySpace, the widget has its own profile page. On iGoogle, the widget can be dynamically resized and is configured using iGoogle titlebar settings. It is important that widgets are configured in the normal manner for each destination so that users do not get confused, which can prevent them from installing the widget. A User Types in Their Profile Name When Adding the Widget on Facebook
A User Types in Their Profile Name Using iGoogle Gadget Settings
Promote Activity Widget
Once you have a User Activity Widget, it is important to promote the widgets at a location on your site where your users are likely to add the widget. The portions of your website with the highest uptake include your homepage and the page displayed just after your user engages in the activity that the widget is displaying. For example, for a consumer ratings site, promote the widget just after the user rates something, with an incentive such as “Show your friends what you just rated!”. Include Recognizable Icons So Your Users Know Their Network is Supported
Monetize Activity Widget
The point of social syndication is to increase monetization of your website. Having your users share their activity with their friends is going to increase traffic to your site as their friends check out what they have been up to. Since users do not like leaving their social network, clicks should be directed to an iFrame inside the social network that displays your site rather than leaving the social network entirely. A Source Site Integrated into Facebook as an iFrame With Premium Advertising
Note in the above graphic that there are IAB ad units surrounding the site content, which presents a premium advertising opportunity and enables you to offer a “Social Media Package” to your advertisers. In addition, iWidgets can fill this advertising space with high CPM social network advertising and share revenue with you.
Socially Syndicating Content
Content widgets project your dynamic content into social networks and portals. Having your content on social networks engages your audience where they are hanging out with their friends, giving you the opportunity to build fan communities. In addition, you can engage your audience will polls, quizzes, and contests that they can share with their friends. A Television Show Widget that Syndicates the Most Recent Episodes on Facebook
A Movie Show Time Widget that Syndicates Showtime Information on iGoogle
Identify Dynamic Content
The first step in producing a content widget is to identify the interesting, dynamic content on your site. Use your web analytics package to determine the most viewed content and search the web for the top links to your content. The best content to syndicate is fresh and changes regularly.
Publish Content Feed
Once you have identified suitable content to syndicate, it is important to narrow the list down to fresh and relevant content that your audience will want to share with each other and create a fan base around. Don’t syndicate all of your content, you want your fans coming back to your website after they get a taste on their favorite social network! The content should then be made accessible as an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Feed, a common and simple web standard for sharing data that changes. The content should be limited to fresh content and ordered in reverse of its release date, so that the freshest and most relevant content appears first.
How to Structure Content RSS Feed Feed Feature Clear Title Description Give each feed item a clear title that identifies the content that the activity is referring to. For example, for a review site, the name of the restaurant. In order to drive traffic to your site, the feed should have a direct link to the content on your site. For example, for a television show widget, a link to the page on your site for the television show. Only put the last 5‐10 content items into the feed, not all of the content from your site. If you are syndicating a variety of content, consider having a single RSS feed instead of multiple RSS feeds, with URL parameters to identity which content to fetch. For example, if you are syndicating a few episodes each from 10 seasons of a television show, have a parameter for season so that the content widget can then let the user pick which season to watch. Show the freshest content first.
Recent Items Only
Ordered in Reverse
Produce Content Widget
The iWidgets Data Display wizard will walk you through integrating your feed into a widget that displays your content. You are guided to identify the portions of the URL that the end‐user should be able to specify in order to specify what content to watch. iWidgets Data Display Wizard
The wizard creates a fully functional widget that displays your content. If your feed is delivering media instead of text, you can swap the feed viewer with a video player, audio player, or picture using drag‐ and‐drop. You can also easily add user interface for users to select content and fully style the widget with iWidgets’ PowerPoint‐like editor. iWidgets PowerPoint‐Like Editor
Publish Content Widget
You can then publish the widget as a native Facebook, MySpace, and iGoogle widget. A native widget is superior since it fits into its host environment. On Facebook the widget’s button are blue and it is configured using a canvas page. On MySpace, the widget has its own profile page. On iGoogle, the widget can be dynamically resized and is configured using iGoogle titlebar settings. It is important that widgets are configured in the normal manner for each destination so that users do not get confused, which can prevent them from installing the widget. Content widgets can then be deployed on individual profiles, as well as fan pages in social networks in order to builder communities around your content.
A Fan Page on Facebook with a Syndicated Content and User Engagement Such as a Poll
Promote Content Widget
Once you have a Content Widget, it is important to promote the widgets at a location on your site where your users are likely to add the widget. The portions of your website with the highest uptake include your homepage and the homepage for the syndicated content. For example, for a television show, promote the widget on your homepage and on the show’s homepage, with an incentive such as “Stay current on the network of your choice!”.
Include Recognizable Icons So Your Users Know Their Network is Supported
Monetize Content Widget
The point of social syndication is to increase monetization of your website. Syndicating your content will attract attention from your fans’ friends, driving interest and traffic. There are many opportunities to socially engage your fans, with polls, quizzes, and contents. At each of these engagements, iWidgets delivers advertising with high CPM with revenue sharing, offering you additional revenue. Poll Results on Facebook for a Television Show with Premium Advertising
Get Started Today
Social syndication offers increased traffic, premium advertising opportunities, and increased brand awareness. To get started, visit http://www.iwidgets.com or contact email@example.com.