Facebook-like-signThere was a time – albeit a brief one – where brand websites existed independently from Facebook profiles. That time is now behind us, and we’ve arrived at a place where Facebook needs to be very closely tied in with existing websites so that each can benefit from the strengths of the other. Leveraging and strengthening that link is absolutely essential to maximize customer engagement and conversion.

If you haven’t taken the time to make your website truly Facebook-friendly, here’s a quick guide to help you get started.

Integrate Facebook Comments

Anybody who has used a blogging platform such as WordPress should already know how easy it is to tie Facebook into the comments section of the blog. There are a number of attractive reasons for using Facebook comments on your site; chief among them is the fact that, whenever someone comments on one of your posts, their comment is automatically published on their own Facebook timeline. Think of it as a cross-promotion opportunity.

Facebook comments also have the added benefit of cutting down on the spam on your site, and improving the quality of discussion. When people use personal Facebook accounts to comment, the ugliness that often accompanies anonymous commenting can largely be avoided.

Share, Like and Send Buttons

This tip may require a small amount of finesse to successfully pull off. Let me explain: if you’re like most people, you’re probably so over-saturated with social media sharing buttons that you don’t even see them anymore, or even enlist the help of a browser plug-in to banish them entirely. This is unfortunate, and it means that web designers and marketers have a lot of work to do to regain the good will of the public.

Share, Like and Send buttons are essential, but it’s important to use them both tastefully and sparingly. Make them accessible, but don’t overwhelm the reader with button clutter; make it something they can find when they need it, but not something that’s going to create even a small degree of frustration.

While the Like button is pretty self-explanatory at this point, the Share and Send buttons may require a brief overview. The Share button makes it easy for visitors to your site to post something to their own timelines; the Send button lets them post something to somebody else’s timeline. In both cases, it can pay off in a big way to give your visitors the tools they need to get your content out there.

Provide a Follow (Subscribe) Button

It turns out that the gesture of Liking a particular brand’s Facebook page is a surprisingly big ask. I’ll use musicians’ Facebook pages as an example. Many users don’t appreciate having to Like a band’s page in order to sample their music. The same goes for corporate Facebook pages.

Something you should consider doing is providing visitors to your site with a follow button instead. Because outright Liking a particular Facebook page has become something of a sacred trust, a subscribe button is a great compromise for people who have a more casual interest in your page, and want regular updates, but don’t yet want to make the gesture of Liking your page. Think of it as the courtship phase.

Use a Like Box

Adding a Like box to your blog or website is something of a catch-22. It can dramatically increase the number of Likes your Facebook page has, but you’ll see the best results if you already have a large number of Likes.

What that means is that people are much more likely to trust you with their highly prized Like if they see that many others have already done the same. For the well-traveled Facebook page, it serves as a sort of collective testimonial for your company or brand.

Make Use of the Activity Feed Plugin

This is another feature that probably works best for Facebook pages that already have a lot of activity, so if that describes you, this plugin is a must. What it does is lets your website visitors take a quick look at how your Facebook friends and fans are interacting with your brand, including comments they’re writing and links they’re sharing.

The Like box is great, but that simple number of Likes is a pretty abstract concept until you provide concrete proof that users are interacting with your brand in meaningful ways. That’s where the activity feed comes in.

Provide a Facebook Registration Option

Facebook’s registration plugin is a great way to eliminate some of the frustrations inherent in signing up on any given website. Most of us use our Facebook accounts every day, so using it to sign in on other websites is a great way to consolidate our login credentials and cut down on the number of passwords we need to remember.

That said, there are still plenty of holdouts that don’t use Facebook. As such, I want to emphasize that this should be an option only. If people still want to sign up the “old fashioned” way, they should be able to do so.

Direct Users to Your Facebook Page

If you do nothing else on this list, make sure you at least take the time to direct your website visitors to your official Facebook page. There’s a very specific kind of frustration that results from forcing would-be customers to find your Facebook page themselves. By adding a simple Page button to your website, you can eliminate that frustration.

It’s a very simple way to tie your two most important websites together, and a subtle way to encourage readers to stop by and Like you. As with most of the other features on this list, however, make sure that the button is placed carefully on your page. It should be a useful tool – not an eyesore.

Parting Thoughts

As you can probably tell by now, there are quite a few ways to tie your Facebook page and primary website together, with plenty of options when it comes to providing interactivity for your fans. No matter what you decide to do, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised with the results.