How often as web developers do we get near the end of a project and then start looking for a good location for those social icons or the perfect place for that Twitter feed? Too often social media integration with a website is an afterthought and not included in the initial planning stages.
The Importance of Social Media
No one can argue that social media usage has exploded in recent years. Various recent reports online have the figures below:
- Facebook at least 900 million users
- Google+ with over 150 million users and it is only 1 year old
- Twitter has many users, but “only” 140 million active users
- Pinterest is the newcomer with more than 10 million users
So you can see that people are using social media and many are actually using it as a primary resource for interacting with companies. Posting on Facebook pages or mentioning in a tweet are popular ways for consumers to reach out to the companies whose products they use.
The Importance of Planning
Initial site layout is a vital aspect of successful web design. It allows the client to see what the designer’s vision is and it allow the designer to stay on track. If we look at integrating social media into a site at this phase, then we can ensure a smoother and more effective integration. Some questions to consider:
- What social networks does the client use?
- Do you want to display the social links on each page?
- If so, in the header or footer
- Should you show the Twitter feed on the home page or each page or somewhere else?
- Do you want to focus on one network or spread it out over all?
The answer to these questions will go a long way to clarifying your strategy when it comes to showing the client’s social media presence on their site.
What social networks does the client use?
This is important because if the client HAS a Facebook page but never updates it, then you would probably advise against making it a prominent link on the website. However, the inverse is true, if they are all over one network, then make it prominent on the site.
Do you want to display the social links on each page? Header or Footer?
Once again, this depends on the amount of effort being put into social media in general by the client. If you determine that they are only active on Facebook and Twitter and they routinely both then placing them on each page is a good idea. However if they post infrequently and do not interact with their client base very often then the footer is more appropriate.
Should you show the Twitter feed on the home page or each page or somewhere else?
This one can be a little tricky. It’s very easy to just place that Twitter widget on the front page sidebar and forget but you really should put some thought into placement. This is assuming they are active on Twitter. What kind of things do they post? If it’s just general corporate information, then placing it on an About Us or Company page in the sidebar may be appropriate. However, if they are posting substantial information that people are looking for and retweeting on a regular basis, then the home page is where you should consider.
Do you want to focus on one network or spread it out over all?
So the client is active on three networks to various degrees. Should you put all your eggs in one basket or spread the wealth? There really is little advantage to focusing on one network when the client in active on multiple. The user bases for these networks will overlap but many times it will not. There are some people who love Twitter and hate Facebook and Google+. Other people swear by Facebook but wouldn’t know a tweet from sweet. Try to keep a balance in terms of active networks so you aren’t losing any potential exposure.
Putting It All Together
Once you have a clear understanding of your client’s social media presence and their focus you can begin to develop your own strategy for their site. Follow through with your plan and prepare to make adjustments as things progress because life is dynamic…not static.
This is a guest post submitted by Ben Chambless, editor of Mobile Apps 4 Biz.