Integrating Social Media Into Your Site Design – Reach Hundreds More People With Each PostComments Off
Social media is something that is pretty much ubiquitous on the web today and that impacts every aspect of our time spent online it seems. If we aren’t using social media to talk to our friends, then we’re using it to promote ourselves and to find work and clients. And if we aren’t using it to do those things then we are using it to enjoy media or to find articles that we’re interested in. In short it takes full advantage of perhaps the main feature of the internet – communication (after all the web was originally designed with communication in mind).
As such, it’s important that you ensure that your site is ready for the modern age, and that you find ways to integrate social media into your design and the user experience. Here we will look at how to do that using the various widgets and buttons available and using smart design.
You can include a feed for your Twitter or for your Facebook that allows visitors to your site to see your posts and updates. These are great widgets that ensure that your site always looks like it’s doing something and is dynamic rather than static. It also allows you to promote offers etc. to people looking at your site. Again though you’ll need space here, and you have to weigh up whether it’s worth encroaching on your screen real estate for more social media. You might even want to consider designing a widget specifically for your site to make it fit better with the style and the available space. See the live twitter feed to the right
Linking to Your Profiles
You can also link your website to your profiles and groups and give your visitors the opportunity to follow or join your website. A Facebook group is a great way to accomplish this, so make sure that you have a graphical image that links to the group and that you give good incentive (news, free deals, special offers etc.) to join. This is most important on your home page, though you might opt to include it down the side of your content as well if you have a good space for it. See the follow us on twitter on this site.
First of all you will want to create a way for your visitors to share your content easily, and the best way to do this is with share buttons on your website. These are buttons that give the viewer the ability to add a link to your article to their Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit or other social network. (see the bottom of this article). Using social media buttons that show the number of shares also helps people to know it is for sharing rather then connecting
The problem here is that you risk your site becoming overly cluttered with hundreds of buttons for social networks of varying quality and prominence. One solution then is to use share buttons that allow you to share with multiple sites (‘ShareThis’ for instance). Another is to use small enough buttons and images that you can arrange neatly in a top right corner for instance. As a piece of advice, one way to encourage more shares and likes is to place buttons at both the top of your articles and the bottom (so people can share after they have read and enjoyed the article, or as soon as they’ve seen the interesting title). I would also recommend not including too many obscure social networks as these can distract from those that work. Do your research and include the sites that are up and coming, or that have already come…(?).
Other Social Utilities
You can also include social media as a more integral part of the way your site works. For instance Facebook provides a comments tool that can allow people to discuss your articles on your pages using their Facebook login, while Google allows you to link an author page right to your Google+ profile. Look into these options and what works organically for your website and you can help to make your site appear more active and lively than it might have been otherwise.
Patrick works with a web company in Melbourne and his company is increasingly incorporating social media in web design projects.