Companies in wide-ranging sectors are investing millions on social media marketing and community management in an effort to build a conversation around their products and services. When engaging prospective members of their communities and activating their current members, many organizations are experiencing the same challenges by relying too much on external networks and ignoring their own website. I propose four ways to counter these challenges and bring the focus of your presence on social media networks back to your own website.

1. Use social media to drives your audience to, not away from, your site.

Your organization leaped to establish a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. You regularly post content and engage with your customers there, but the result is that it has left your own website in silence with little appeal to your community. This ends up limiting the time your customers spend on your site and decreases the amount of attention your company gets.

Some surveys show that social media is not an effective source to drive traffic to your site. However, you should not only use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to build awareness and keep your audience up to date on what is happening with your brand, but you should be active about integrating these networks into the fabric of the customer experience on your website.

Embed Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ buttons on pages to empower your audience to share the most valuable aspects of your site. But don’t stop there! Use any opportunity to get your audience to jump from anonymity to known customer by encouraging them to login using tools like Facebook Connect or Twitter when they arrive at your site. The real goal is to improve relevance and engagement. This is where customer engagement becomes interesting. A number of successful startups including Gravity.com are helping brands to profile their users so they can serve more relevant content on their site.

Use any hook possible, including comments and “like” buttons, to get your community to disclose their identity, and make it easy for them to sign into their favorite social network.  Not only do you get members more engaged, you get more frequent visits and more time spent on the site due to its relevance.

2. Don’t let your message drown in the social media maelstrom

The news streams of your customers are continuously being flooded with updates relevant to their network connections but not their relationship as a member of your community. There is a big risk that your valuable content is overlooked, and the situation is not improving as brands are increasingly using automated tools to increase the frequency of their updates to lure people back.  This is surely not the solution because it only adds to the noise. Instead you should be conservative and use your social media channels like Facebook Pages and Twitter in fewer but more targeted bursts to draw your community back to relevant content on your site, where they can then see what they have missed since their last visit.

3. Engage in the conversation on your own turf

Many brands’ site have little to no interaction with their audience, or the conversation is kept on Facebook or Twitter. It’s time to lead the conversation back to your website.

Many companies have successfully replaced their own commenting system with the one on their Facebook page. However, bringing the network back to your site keeps the audience engaged there, and demonstrates a highly personalized interaction with your customers that will be visible to a more relevant network. Social commenting is a new take on word-of-mouth advertising, so make sure your customers have a voice on your site.

4. Focus on what you have the ability to improve.

You are a store owner with a loyal customer base. You have a beautiful storefront that you keep current. Still, one third of the window features posters for all kinds of junk and possibly even ads for competitors. Welcome to Facebook pages. Companies did not received a thank you note from Facebook after their IPO, even though they have been instrumental in building Facebook’s value and have had their content limited in return. Don’t be a victim, make use of the best features of the major social networks on your site and transform it into the epicenter of the conversation about your brand.