Social media is now a totally embedded as an inbound marketing channel, with capacities to re-engage a customer base and influence huge audiences. So much so, that links, buttons and widgets that connect websites to profiles are everywhere. There is barely a site hosted without them…
It is safe to assume that the majority of people will consider it best practice to have them on websites, yet how many of us think consciously about their potential impacts on a website?
Creating website exit points without motive
Linking to social media accounts from websites can, of course, be hugely advantageous for a business. However, having scoured websites from a wide range of sectors, it is noticeable that many do not use them in ways that channels users sensibly.
Used badly the links simply create holes in your conversion funnel by distracting and disengaging users. Quite simply, if you give them a link to a profile, you risk losing that attention and breaking the conversion that you will have likely paid to obtain in the first place.
Social to website… not the other way round!
Asking someone to ‘follow us’ or ‘say hi’ offers absolutely no incentive or reward for the customer and may mean you sacrifice the opportunity to realise your business purpose by being on social media.
Websites do not need front facing links to every social profile. Consider the purpose of the website and whether ‘social’ will aid its performance or hinder its capability to convert. There is absolutely no shame in deleting ones that you feel are no longer useful to your business.
It is no surprise that the links to Amazon’s social media profiles are almost invisible on their website – they don’t simply want people leaving the purchase journey they are on. This is not to say they don’t have profiles – on the contrary, they have a huge social following. They know if people need to find them, they will. They just don’t want to be sending customers away from their site.
Using social to aid conversion and achieve other goals
The argument then is not that all social media profiles links should be removed. It is that they should be used only when they offer your site visitors something additionally important that they can’t gain on your site.
This needs to be something that is unique about the organisation or industry; something that is special and valuable, and which plays to the strengths of the business. Finding the best way to think about such aspects is to take a step back from the granular details of a typical posting or tweeting and think carefully about the enhanced capability that ‘social’ can offer.
Don’t worry; perhaps there is no added value to having ‘social’ linked to your website. Apple avoided conventional social media for years and they haven’t encountered problems! Granted – they are Apple!
Better not to do it, than to fail or forget
Staying with Apple’s approach to ‘social’, Its impressive that this company continues to buck the trend and do things differently. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that every business should follow their example and quit ‘social’ each should at least pose questions for itself about the value of ’social’ to their business and its necessity.
The most fundamental consideration regarding the use of social media links on websites is that they deliver users to active, well-managed communities.
It is all too easy to find pages which are abandoned or forgotten. Not only will these desert profiles be negatively impacting site performance, but consequently they will be having negative impact on CPAs of all other marketing activity.
Don’t abandon social media; just make sure its integrated into your websites functionality… does it really need to take pride of place?