Social media and your website are in a serious, committed, long-term relationship. For all intents and purposes, they are married. That means a decision for one platform should never be made without consulting the health and well-being of the other.
They work together, and are seriously co-dependent. They can’t function without each other.
This blog talks a lot about how to promote your web content on social media. But today, we’re going to focus on how social media should be integrated directly on your website. Below are the most common, but easily fixable, mistakes made during social media integration.
1. Not asking for social shares on thank you pages
When is a consumer or brand advocate of most value to you? At the exact moment they follow your call-to-action, whether it be making a purchase, downloading a white paper or signing a letter or petition.
This is when they are most excited to be a part of your brand’s story, and you would be remiss not to take advantage of their enthusiasm to spread your message to their networks.
92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth marketing over all else. This makes perfect sense – you’re going to trust someone you know’s opinion about a brand over the way the brand talks about itself, regardless of the context.
So make sure you capitalize on your brand advocates’ networks at the time they feel most connected to you by asking them to talk about their experience on social media on the thank you page. Include auto-populated text about the action they just took, and make sure to include language encouraging others to do the same.
Note: Make sure to do this on the thank you page after they’ve already completed the conversion. You never want to interrupt a conversion path with prompts to take other actions.
2. Not differentiating between social sharing buttons and social follow icons
Have you ever been on a website and you decide you want to follow the brand, but every time you click on a social icon it just prompts you to share the page? Or, vice versa?
It may seem like an innocent enough error, but it costs your user time, which, sadly, you just can’t afford in an era when competition is stiff for the consumer’s dwindling attention span. Plus, it’s frustrating, which could cost you a follower or a share. It will add up quickly.
Standard best practice is to include your social follow icons near the top of your homepage – either on the right or left side, where they can remain in the website’s header or navigation bar that is carried over onto each landing page. People also tend to look for them in the footer.
Social sharing buttons tend to be more centered, and embedded within the page’s content, rather in the header or footer. They also often appear in a column along the left side.
But most importantly, your social follow icons and social sharing buttons should look different. Your social follow buttons should look more like icons while your social sharing buttons should promote a call-to-action either on the icon itself (Tweet vs. Twitter) or next to the set of icons (“Share this on social media”).
If you really want to differentiate, you can get creative with your social media icons by downloading from one of the following free sources:
3. Writing un-shareable content
Your entire website – not just your buttons – should be optimized for social sharing. That includes the way that you write. Modern web writing is not like writing a college paper. Sentences should be tweetable – meaning short and to the point, and paragraphs should follow suit.
Remember you’re not trying to dazzle a PhD professor with your writing skills – you’re trying to connect to consumers. Consumers don’t read top to bottom – they skim, scroll and click off, click back on, etc. While your content should tell a coherent story, a quick glance anywhere on the page should reveal tiny tidbits of information that can stand alone as well as support each other to convey your message.
In other words, be quotable.
Subheads, lists, bullet points, and images, images, images will not only make your content more digestible for a wider audience, but also more socially shareable. Inspire users to tweet by essentially writing tweets for, disguised as content.
You can do this literally by implementing Click to Tweet on your website, which allows you to add a custom Twitter sharing link anywhere in the body of your text. Not only will this tool make your website more shareable, but it will also encourage you to write socially-minded.
4. Not customizing text for social sharing buttons
Including social sharing buttons on key pages of your website and blog posts is crucial for marrying your social media strategy to your website strategy, ensuring a seamless stream of traffic flowing in both directions.
However, if your social sharing buttons aren’t optimized to include custom text, you’re missing a major opportunity. Social sharing buttons are easy to install and forget, allowing automation to take over. But if people are sharing content from your website, they are well on their way to becoming brand ambassadors, and you want to optimize that experience to the extreme – it will return exponentially.
Make sure your custom text for Twitter includes your Twitter handle, any relevant hashtags and a shortened URL you can track. This allows for maximum visibility both in search results and among the followers of your brand ambassadors.
All other channels should be customized individually. Remember, each channel is a little bit different and comes with its own best practices.
You can create your buttons natively using code from each social channel by following the instructions on this post, or install social sharing bars from a third party like ShareThis or AddThis. All three options allow you to customize by individual social channel and landing page.
5. No unique URL’s on long scroll and interactive pages
Web design and UX is like the fashion industry. Trends are always changing and there’s a premium placed on being on the cutting edge. Right now, long scroll and interactive feature pages are “in” and traditional navigation is quickly going out of style.
In theory, this should pose no conflict with social media integration, but the mistake I see time and time again with this UX style is that it’s executed with anchor text rather than unique URL’s.
You want to be able to slice and dice your content, socially sharing different components of your website and pointing to different perspectives. This is virtually impossible to do when you cram a ton of content under one URL.
For example, CARE’s annual report leverages this interactive format, where the user can scroll through a number of stories that slide into place on a single landing page. While the user experience is clean and seamless, you’ll notice that each of the stories have unique URL’s so they can be promoted on social media independently.
How do you optimize for social media integration on your website? What mistakes do you commonly see when surfing the web? Tell us in the comments below!