Should your website drive traffic to social media or vice versa?

headerSocial media is an important part of any modern marketing strategy. A 2015 study of over 3,700 marketers showed that more than two-thirds intended to increase their efforts on social media. What they couldn’t agree on, however, were the best tactics to use. The report points out that this is due to the fast-changing environment of digital and social media marketing. Thus it seems reasonable that there is a lot being tried out to varying levels of success (measuring ROI was highlighted as a challenge as well). As such, today we want to discuss a popular trend that is a bit controversial – putting your social media icons in a prominent space on your website.

The case for putting social media links somewhere prominent

Putting social links in a prominent spot reminds visitors to check out your social media channels. Assuming you regularly post great content, this encourages visitors to engage with your brand. As social media channels allow for messaging to be shared to followers over time, this builds their relationship with your brand. This isn’t something you get over the course of a single visit to your website and gives a passive reminder to them every once in awhile.

Another plus is that social media posts tend to take on a less formal (and salesman-like tone) than your formal communications, making it a great candidate for long-term relationship building. Content is also much easier to produce at a higher volume so your brand seems to be ‘always-on’.

Why social media links don’t belong there

On the flip side, there are several great reasons why putting links prominently at your front page might be counterproductive. Firstly and most importantly, is that visitors coming to your main page generally just got there. Why would you want to invite them to leave, even if it’s your social network? People coming to your website are looking for something. It could be information about your product, or to enquire or purchase something from you.

Having social media links upfront and center also fights for attention with the rest of the content you want them to pay attention to. Sure, some people could legitimately be looking to follow you on social media, but having the links in other usual places like in your footer, or in your about page.

A happy medium?

So how do we reconcile the above two points of view? Well, they actually don’t have to come at the expense of each other. Instead of pointing people to your social channels at the first opportunity when they get to your website, a little bit of thinking goes a long way. As we’ve mentioned, the footer and about page are commonly used patterns many pages use to put their social media buttons and links. You can also encourage them to follow you at the end of each article you post, as a gentle nudge that if they enjoyed what they just read, they can keep up with new content as well. That way, you free up space above the fold, and you still achieve your goal of getting people to your social media channels.