Understanding your social media site integration and improving its impact on your inbound marketing
Social media is now a truly established 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 ubiquitous. Indeed, there is barely a site hosted without them.
I think it is safe to assume that the vast 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 distraction and 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 (as above) 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.
Asking someone to 'follow us' or 'say hello' 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.
Web teams, UX designers and developers, let me be frank with you! Websites do not need links to every social profile. Consider the purpose of the website and whether ‘social’ will aid its performance or hinder its capability to convert. In my view, there is absolutely no shame in deleting ones that you feel are no longer useful to your business.
With this in mind, it is no surprise to me 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. But 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. I have always found 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.
Some examples to give you inspiration might be:
If you happen to have a brilliant customer service team who great at providing help…
'Having a problem with your order? Let our social team sort it'
Or if your organisation is in the habit of receiving lots of positive feedback, and these advocates will potentially help convert future users…
'See what 10,000 customers are saying about us, read our Facebook reviews!'
Still not convinced, or struggling to understand what the optimal value of your social media presence might be?
Don’t worry; perhaps there is no added value to having ‘social’ linked to your website. Apple, for example, have avoided conventional social media for years and they haven’t encountered problems!
Better not to do it, than to fail or forget
Moreover, and staying with Apple’s approach to ‘social’, I must say how impressed I am that this company continues to buck the trend and do things differently. And 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.
To my way of thinking, 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.
Cards For Everyone provides a perfect example of this problem
While carrying out research recently, I noted their aggressive bidding strategy across PPC Search networks in order to try to obtain traffic. However, once on site, visitors would be met by various links to social profiles that, frankly, have seen better days both in terms of the quality of content and regularity of it.
When the average order value of their product range is so low, and with margins tight, this would be bound to have significant impact on the profitability of campaigns they have been running.
Thanks to Ed Raine for sharing his thoughts and opinions in this blog post. Ed is Digital Strategist at Fusion Unlimited, the digital marketing division of Principles Communications. You can connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.