Wednesday, 18 July 2012

How and Why to Use Social Signals on your Website

How and why to use social signals on your website

In today’s ever evolving world of search, social and content it is easy to over look the small things that end up adding up to a lot. This is especially true for your website. Your website is how you present yourself to the world and is often times the only interaction you will have with potential clients. A website is built to reflect all that you do and how you help your client base. From the logo to the footer every pixel expresses something.

Your website should be a repository of everything you have online. When a user arrives on any page of your site they should be able to find all of your available online resources. This can be difficult with most companies having Facebook pages, Google+ Pages, Twitter handles, LinkedIn Groups, Pinterest Boards and YouTube Channels (it’s becoming a long list!). All of these resources can be extremely vast with lots of content that may or may not be on your site already.

Social sites can be utilized as repositories for your media, thoughts and/or news. In some cases this content is only available on social profiles and may be absent on your website. Because of this web of disconnected content and branded pages, it is important that your website acts as a launching pad to these outlets. If you have taken the time to create a profile on any social media site you should let your website visitors know by linking to these profiles from your site.

Adding social signals to your website adds credibility to your business, letting users know that you are more than just a one dimensional site in the bottomless pit that is the internet. It gives users another place to visit and see your content. More importantly it shows the user other people who are talking about and communicating with each other about your company. These social signals provide indirect referrals for your company and can sometimes be as influential as a customer review.


Many ways to implement social signals on a website:

Adding links to your social profiles in navigation  

As you can see in the sample, just below the main section navigation, there are social site link symbols to the corporate sponsored social profiles. It’s makes a easy transition for visitors to access your social content.

Social Links in Navigation

 Social Profiles in Navigation


Having a section on your website that has all of your social links. 

In this example the website owner places social links within the footer of the website so it appears on every page within the site.

Section for Sharing

Section for Sharing


Adding a sharing tool for all content on your site.

With your investment in creating content, it is important to provide those reading it with an easy way to share your information. Provide sharing tools for users to easily spread your content with their connections.

Sharing a Post

 Sharing a Post


Using a social commenting plug-in.

With the growth of social media, more and more purchasing engagements are being steered through what others have to say. By providing a social commenting plug-in you are empowering your viewers share their feedback. It’s a great way to engage with your audience.

Social Commenting

 Social Commenting


Adding a Twitter stream to your Website.

Depending on your audience and the mission of your website, adding a Twitter stream can be a fun way to generate interest for visitors to want to engage with you (and have their post loaded on your site).

Twitter Stream
Twitter Stream

When implementing any or all of these tools it is important to empathize with your users. Are these signals adding to the experience or getting in the way of the end goal of the user. When done right these signals should be the frosting on top of your website adding extra sweetness to the user. Having these slight nudges to view or share your content heightens your chances of content going viral.

While it is very important to implement social signals on your website do no suffocate your users with them. Remember people come to your site to learn and interact with you, not see where your company can be found all over the internet. Some other things to be aware of when implementing these signals are to use the latest icons for each site and to not link to pages you do not update often. A poorly done social profile can do as much damage as a great profile can help.

What are some success stories of your incorporating social signals?

Postword: TIP: Before you share your social sites, make sure that they are completed and presentable ie. your coverpages, pin boards, profile pages and images, bios ... even if you are just starting out, for best results and to avoid negative first impressions which can be more damaging than not sharing at all.

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