4 Tips for Using Social Media Buttons
Websites often use buttons to direct visitors to their social media sites or to promote social sharing for increased site traffic. Social media buttons can be displayed in many different ways and can perform different functions. Here are four tips for getting the most out of your social media buttons.
Make Social Media Buttons Easy to Find
One of the most important things you can do with your social media buttons is make them easy to find.
Much of social media button placement depends on site design. When considering where to place your buttons, consider where site visitors would naturally look for them. In most cases, this will be near the main site content. Many sites place social buttons near their contact information in addition to the main site content.
Most Internet users will recognize the blue from the Twitter and Facebook logos respectively. RSS feeds are typically orange and Google+ icons are a specific shade of red. Using colors that Internet users are already familiar with can help make social media buttons easier to recognize. The Bohemia blog example below shows easily recognizable social media buttons near the main site content. From the main site, the social media links are found under the “about us & blog” link.
Distinguish between Different Types of Social Media Buttons
Some social media sites will have buttons that function in very different ways. For example, you could have a button linking to your business’s Facebook page, a Facebook “Like” button, or a Facebook “share” button. Each of these performs a different function, but all are associated with Facebook. Make sure users aren’t confused by what your social media buttons do.
Including text for “share” and “Like” — or any other applicable caption — ensures users know what a button will do when visitors click it. Using only icons for all social media links will confuse users. The dConstruct social media buttons in the example below each have text explaining what the button does.
Don’t Use Too Many Social Media Buttons
Between Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, social bookmarking sites, and RSS feeds, you could have 10 or more social media buttons on a single page. This is not always necessary.
Not only will too many social media buttons make your site look cluttered, they can decrease your site’s load time. Consider which buttons are important. You will probably want to direct users to Like, follow, or subscribe to your social media pages. As for sharing and liking individual site pages, this may not be necessary or even beneficial. Having many pages, posts, or products displaying zero likes or tweets can make a site look unpopular and drive visitors away.
How much social media linking to include on a site should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Blogs and article-based sites will often have more social media buttons than ecommerce store pages. The big question to ask is “do my social media buttons help with my social media campaign, or are they there ‘just in case’?”
Keep Visitors on Your Site
One concern with social media buttons is that they can lead visitors away from your site by sending them to your social media page. There are two primary ways to combat site exits via social media buttons.
The first is to use social media plug-ins. The Facebook social plugin lets visitors who are already signed into their Facebook accounts Like your Facebook page without even leaving your site. If a visitor isn’t logged in to their Facebook account, the social plugin opens a pop-up window and prompts a Facebook sign in. Other social media sites, like Twitter and Google+, have similar plugins that allow visitors to promote, follow, or subscribe to your site without leaving the page.
The second way to prevent site exits is to have social media links open in new tabs or new windows. This is particularly important for websites with custom social media icons that are manually coded. In the example below, Sky’s Guide Service uses custom social media buttons that fit with the site design and open in a new window or tab — depending on how your browser is configured.
HTML anchor tags can be coded to open in a new tab or window using the “target” attribute. This prevents users from navigating to your social media page and forgetting about your actual website. Remember, also, to place a link back to your website from your social media pages — both for users who navigated away from your site and for visitors who found your social media page first.