Most of the websites on the web aren’t social networks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. Whether you have an eCommerce website or a lead generation website, you can learn a thing or two from social networks. Here are some things I have learned from social sites:
Many social networks track how their users interact with each other. Your site probably doesn’t have social features that allow users to message each other, but you still have some sort of user engagement. For example, your website visitors are engaging with you. Track where your users are navigating through your website and see what catches their eyes before they submit contact requests, leave feedback, or leave comments. This will help you understand what areas of your site cause users to engage and what areas don’t.
Social networks grow by users recommending the website to their friends. In most cases, the recommendation is done through email or by word of mouth. Now you probably can’t track word of mouth growth, but you can track email growth. If you notice that a good portion of your visitors is coming from emails, consider adding recommendation links on your website in which users can recommend your website or service to their friends easily. And ideally, if it makes sense for your business, consider using a contact importer.
There are certain aspects of social sites that cause tons of page views and cause users to come back on a regular basis. Most of these features are social features and they probably won’t work with your website, but what you can do is look for trends on what pages causes the user to stick the longest and keep them viewing more pages. For example, if you notice that case study pages are popular, then you may want to add more case study pages or other detailed content such as white papers.
People tend to come back to social networks because they usually contact users via email to come back. For example, every time something new happens on Facebook, I get an email notification saying something new happened. What you should consider doing is to collect emails from your website visitors. You can do this by just adding an email notification box on your website, which will ask people for their emails (you will be amazed at how many users will enter in their email). Anytime you have updates or news to release, you can always send out an email blast to your list.
Everything doesn’t have to be tangible
Virtual gifts have made social networks and applications millions of dollars. It is an easy way for them to monetize their properties and the cost of doing so is relatively low. Consider creating virtual ways to monetize your website and test out what is working for your website and what isn’t. Just because something works for your competitors doesn’t mean it is going to work for you and what doesn’t work for your competitors may work for you. Try not to just go with the standard ways of monetization, think outside the box.
There are a lot of things you can learn from social networks, you just have to get creative and start thinking how the features within social networks can be applied to your online business. More importantly, when you are trying out these new features on your website, you need to start tracking the results. Some things will end up working out well for you and other things may not, but if you never try new things and don’t track all of the features on your web application or website, you’ll never know how to improve it.