June 25, 2013
Integrating Social Media with Your Website
I never anticipated how strange today’s reality would be with its cell phones and constant computer use.
Sure, bulletin boards and usenet groups of the 80s and 90s were a kind of precursor to this phenomenon. But bulletin boards involved networking with strangers and geeks.
In a way, the ambient awareness of so many people interacting with each other via Facebook and Twitter could be a simulacrum of the cyberspace envisioned by sci-fi author William Gibson. Now, many of us are very aware of each other’s hobbies and concerns via Facebook and work via LinkedIn. Cyberlife is a daily reality for many people, not just geeks. And it’s not science fiction – it’s reality.
In the dozen years since I’ve started developing websites, website design philosophy has constantly evolved. The social media environment that Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, Pinterest and other venues share brought another dimension to how websites can be used.
Here are some social media ideas and guidelines for your website that I have drawn from the experience:
- Put cues “above the fold” on your web pages/posts so people can quickly discern if the topic on your page concerns them. People should not have to scroll down to find out the main topic of your page. Add a picture that reinforces the idea of your page graphically to help people quickly comprehend the purpose of the web page.
- Publish information that people actually want to share; does it serve their purposes and what incentives do they have to share it? Does it support or inform their passion, whether it is business, a hobby, entertainment, education, news, activism or an intellectual pursuit?
- Proofread your information, or have someone proofread it. You can ask a web design firm or content generation consultant to do this if you do not have excellent writing and editorial skills. Your image is enhanced by having well-written information.
- Make your pages easy to share (if applicable). Add social sharing buttons.
- If you have time and resources to do this, add a mixture of infographics, pictures and videos to your pages and posts – not just text. Different people digest information in different ways. Some like pictures and videos, some prefer to read.
- Use title tags and meta description tags that help people understand what it is you are conveying. These often appear as the title and description of your web page as presented in search engines. It helps people understand if they want to click on the link to your page. Ask your web designer to use open graph programming to automatically generate this, too. Open graph tags are special tags, like metatags, that contain information Facebook can use such as the location of a default thumbnail image, description and title to represent your page or post as presented on Facebook, which also help people understand what is being shared and if they want to click on it.
- Use a professional web design to help the credibility of your brand.
- Invest resources in developing a quick-loading website so that it is pleasurable for people to view it – people tend to be more reluctant to visit multiple pages on slow websites. Make it easy for your audience!
Best of luck in cyberspace!
Kathy Smith has developed more than 200 websites – everything from n-tier enabled applications to ecommerce to your friendly brochure-style website. She is senior developer at Lakenetwork.net, a website development company in Eastlake, Ohio.
Lakenetwork is a family-owned business providing website design and development for companies, professionals and organizations in the Cleveland, Ohio area and beyond. We specialize in providing the most cost-effective and appropriate solutions for clients’ online needs. We are located in Eastlake, Ohio.