If you’re a business owner looking to grow your online audience, adding social connect and sharing functions to your website are great tools. They enable your visitors to connect with you on your social media channels or to share your web content with their own audience.
However, these tools need to be added discretely. By that I mean, your content should be the main focus of your website, not the social functions; collecting followers and likes should not be to the detriment of your web content and should not be annoying or frustrating to visitors to your website.
How many times have you been to a website to read what looks like an interesting article, shared on your Facebook timeline from a page you’ve already liked, and you just get into reading it and up pops a “like my page on Facebook” box blocking the text? Or you get near the end of the article and the entire page goes dark so you can no longer see to read, forcing you to scroll back to the top to close the box? And after clicking the X or the close link, up pops another box, just to make sure you don’t want to change your mind! Didn’t you just come from Facebook in the first place?
Frustrating or annoying, isn’t it?
Then there’s the social share icons that are fixed to the same spot on the left side of the web page covering up the first few letters of text you’re trying to read. It’s fine on a computer, which has a wider screen, but when you’re on your tablet or smart phone, it can be frustrating when you only have a few lines of text you can read fully from left to right, because the social share buttons are getting in the way.
Websites that use these tactics are often click baiting with intriguing or attention grabbing headlines, that entice people to read an article, but really they only want you on their website, so they make money from the hundreds of ads they have on there.
You can usually tell the ones by the fact 90% of the web page is filled with ads – ads in the header, ads down the sidebar, ads between each paragraph, a gallery of ads at the bottom, ads under the slideshow (how many times have you inadvertently clicked what looks like a navigation arrow only to find it was part of an ad?), and so on.
Many of these websites are the “popular” ones we all follow on Facebook. We follow the “guru” or the “thought leader,” and share the videos from the “news worthy” websites. We follow the pack and idolize or hang on every word they say, but in reality, the only reason they are posting such words of wisdom or thought provoking articles (many of which are regurgitated from other websites) and sharing them on their social media channels is to make money from the ad feeds on their websites.
Don’t be like those types. You’re not looking for thousands of followers who have no intention of buying your product or service. You’re looking for other like-minded professionals, people that you can build a relationship with, business owners who learn from the information you provide and grow to trust you.
If you want your website to remain professional, use discrete methods for your visitors to connect with you on your social media channels or to share your website content.
The two best places to add your social connect icons where they will not frustrate or annoy people are at the top in the header or at the bottom in the footer .
- At the top in the header, the social connect icons will be one of the first things people see. If your visitors didn’t come to your website from Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, then they immediately have the opportunity to click an icon, go like your page, then come back and read your article. Tip: Ensure your links open in a new window, so you don’t lose your visitors when they click the X.
- Placed at the bottom, if your visitors read the entire article, they do not need to scroll back to the top to check out your Twitter feed.
The three best places to add your social sharing icons where they will not annoy people are above your post or page content, at the end of the post or page content (before the comment box), or fixed on the right side. There are various WordPress social share plugins that offer all three of these options.
- Before your post, the share buttons are immediately visible to your visitors. They will immediately know that you would like the post to be shared, and if they don’t have time to read it now, they’ll easily find it later by sharing it on their own timeline.
- Placed at the end of the post or article, if the visitor has read to the end and truly enjoyed your post or found it informative, they will immediately see the opportunity to share the information with their followers.
- Fixed on the right side, the only thing the icons will be covering is a portion of the unimportant stuff in your sidebar – the ads, links to recent posts or categories. If you don’t have a sidebar, ensure the icons are small enough not to cover any of your content or that the margin is wide enough when viewed on a tablet. Remove them completely or move them to the bottom when viewed on a smart phone.
Placing your social connect or sharing icons in these locations will make your content more accessible and readable, enabling your visitors to read uninterruptedly, which will in turn make them feel more valuable, instead of making them feel like click bait.