Social media—it’s not just for kids anymore.
Yes, in a world where social media use is rising and more than 1 billion people use Facebook, social media integration is no longer an option for web developers.
Failing to include easy-to-use social media plugins and development tools in your website design will end up costing you big. Fortunately, enhancing your site with social media is an easier process than it used to be.
Pressing Their Buttons
We’ve all seen those little logos and buttons that are strewn across every website designed in the past 10 years. Those buttons are the secret weapon of social media websites, allowing simple ways for developers to integrate their pages with the social brands that their viewers love.
This process has become so streamlined that with a single click, a viewer can publicly like and share a web page or piece of content with hundreds of their friends and followers. This is a mutually-beneficial relationship; both you and the social brand need the viewers.
Most social media outlets provide easy tools for developers to add buttons and tags to their sites that let users share, follow, like, and comment without the need to leave the page. And with simplicity becoming the order of the day for social media outreach, it’s in your best interest to make their communication as easy as possible. For the best effect, keep these button accessible in the same locations as your viewers navigate your page, and try to place them primarily on pages that have the content your viewers are likely to share.
Many sites use the trick of having live chat boxes at the sides or bottoms of their pages to encourage conversation; you can do the same with social media. Twitter offers an easy tutorial on how you can embed feeds into your site, providing your page with up-to-the-minute trending content on whatever topics you wish. This not only encourages discussion, but funnels more viewers through your social media pages and brings more eyes to the content you want to display.
Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and just about every other social outlet provide the same options for embedding video and images. Utilize these developer tools to integrate your page with the content already available on social media, and give your users ways to add their own value at the click of a button.
Stay Up to Date
A challenge of social media involves the necessity to keep your site current with the mercurial fads of social media use. Myspace and MSN were once the reigning kings of online social communication; now you’ll find Instagram and Facebook ruling the roost.
Five years from now? Who knows?
Make sure whatever links and development tools you’ve integrated into your site stay current with what is popular on the sites you’re partnering with. As hard as it is to believe, there was a time when the Facebook “Like” button never existed. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find a social media-integrated page without it.
This point holds particularly true for sites that feature live feeds of their Facebook walls or Twitter pages. If you’re showcasing social media, make sure you have something to show. Nothing will make a consumer lose faith faster than a dead and dried-up social media presence.
A Balancing Act
But higher social media engagement comes at a cost: increased manpower and upkeep of your services. It’s great to reach thousands of fans who clamor to hear every word you say, but the problem with that stems from the fact that the backbone of social media outreach is communication. If you don’t have the manpower to respond to hordes of users engaging you on social media, your efforts may actually end up hurting you. Would you buy from a company that ignored (however inadvertently) every question you posed to them on their Facebook page? If you answered “No,” you’re not the only one.
The tightrope your social media usage has to walk is between the chasms of scope of outreach vs. maintenance effort. While social media developers have done their best to make these tools user-friendly and easy to implement, any adjustment to your interface will take some effort. And when that effort is aimed at outreach toward the millions of users that inhabit the realm of social media, you’d better make sure you know what you’re in for.