When building a new website, there are a lot of questions to ask, “How do I know I’m creating the best user experience?” “How can I be sure I’ve eliminated all dead ends?” “How do I make sure my mobile site is just as good as the desktop version?”
All of these questions are essential to building a successful website, but as we move through 2015 and the importance of social media for the healthcare marketing professional continues to grow, you have one more important question to add to the list: “How do I properly integrate social media into my website?”
A Unified Integration is the Best Integration
Before you integrate your company’s social media profiles into your website, make sure you have a unified and consistent social media presence. Too many companies make the mistake of unnecessarily fragmenting their followers by using different names across different social media profiles. If you’re “Grimes Technology” on Facebook, you should be “Grimes Technology” across the board.
Usually this lack of consistency stems from a company making separate pages for each of their differently named branches. While this sounds like a good idea, it fragments your followers across multiple profiles, and most branch-specific content can be flagged with the use of a hashtag.
Feature All Active Social Media Profiles
This may sound like a no-brainer, but there are a lot of companies that don’t promote all of their active social profiles on their website. If you have an active presence on five different social media platforms, make sure to properly promote them all! It’s one thing if you’re neglecting a Google+ account that hasn’t been used in over a year, but if someone’s creating good content on a social platform, be sure to give that profile visibility.
Go Beyond a Simple Hypertext Link
When you promote your social media profiles, promote them in an engaging way. You’d be surprised how often you’ll find phrases such as “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter” hyperlinked and buried in the footer of a website’s homepage.
A much better alternative to standard hyperlinks are clickable icons in appropriate places depending on the specific page of the website. Hyperlinks promoting your social profiles can often get lost, especially if you have a text-heavy page. Additionally, this kind of icon gives you design freedom, allowing you to get creative and make an icon that isn’t just engaging, but lines up with the overall design of the page.
Avoid Misleading Social Features
This is another piece of the puzzle that may seem like a non-issue. You’re either properly linking your Facebook page or not, right? However, this can be the toughest aspect of social integration, mostly because it can be difficult to notice when a social feature is truly misleading.
A common example of a misleading social feature I see across the web is the ability to “like” a product on Facebook. Almost every website that has an online shop gives you the option to “like” a specific product, and nine out of ten times that isn’t what happens when you click the “like” button.
You can “like” things on Facebook in a few different ways: if it’s a post or a status update in your news feed clicking “like” is an easy way of showing your approval toward that particular post or status. There are also pages for movies, bands, or TV shows, where clicking “like” means adding the subject of that page to a list of your overall “likes” that’s shared on your profile.
When I “like” a product on a website, it doesn’t add that product to my list of overall “likes” on Facebook, and I don’t know if there’s a post out there on a company’s Facebook page that I’ve now “liked.” I’m left confused as to what I’ve actually done with this social feature, and my overall user experience with the website is a lot worse because of it.
Use these tips and you’ll have great social media integration, but don’t stop there! Having a unified name and message, featuring all relevant and worthwhile content, standing out from the crowd with engaging design, and avoiding unnecessary features that will confuse your audience are also great tips for building an entire website, blog, or even individual social media profiles.