I get bombarded with questions about social media daily, so it’s time for me to speak up and help you have a better understanding of the social media circus.
Right now the number of people engaging on social media platforms is just staggering. We have Facebook, Google+,Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr, SnapChat, Dribble, Digg, LinkedIn, Skype, Reddit, FlickR, Vimeo and more. Everyday, billions of people on social media share thoughts, ideas, pictures and personal information. These numbers have led to a sharp rise of internet marketeers who are just trying to make a buck off the trend. They use social media to market/solicit goods and services to the masses. There are even firms who’s sole job is to provide social media marketing for businesses!
This has led to a huge problem. The hype over social media services has led to an onslaught of mediocre providers who can’t tell their ass from their elbow. They just don’t have correct information when it comes to recommending best practices, techniques and getting goal driven results for the consumer. Their “advice” has little to do with actual facts, brain science, or UX/UI theory and conversion. Instead, they focus on the trend and hype. What you end up with are business owners running around like dogs chasing their tails hoping whatever these hacks are saying will in some way improve their numbers.
I feel for the business owners in these situations and unfortunately have seen the flawed advice waste their time money and efforts. (Which leads me to a point – DO YOUR RESEARCH! Do not allow yourself to be fooled by trend marketeers.)
Ride the Wave?
Social media is really big. Billions of people use it daily, so our “industry professionals” (or hacks as I call them) say “Your business needs to be on Social Media.” This concept is now becoming mainstream so more and more people buy into it easily.
If you think about it quickly, it could sort of make sense too. So many people use these platforms, so you need to engage them on the platforms, or you’re losing out on sales & revenue. If you dive deeper and take time to do a little analyzing, it’s not true. The basic thoughts and statements such as “Your business needs to be on Facebook” are based on low level thinking and zero information design principles, ultimately leading to many frustrated and broke business owners.
As I mentioned before, people have now become sellers of this misinformation, based on absolutely NO human studies, or active analytic evidence. Business owners typically just look at what others are doing and think they need to copy it too. These “talking-heads” as my friend Gary, an engineer at MIWV.com says, have been emboldened and supported not by evidence, but by the media. We are used to seeing media promote social media and headlines that say Facebook or Twitter are raising billions in an IPO, or any social media hype news, giving the impression that “this advice must be right”.
At the end of the day, who do you want to take your business advice from? A Facebook Marketeer who solicits based off a trends and hype? The bandwagon jumpers who will sell you anything? Or the misguided recommend-er who’ll give advice because others have it, so you should too…
Owners apparently have been taking their advice, shelling out plenty of money for their services. What they see after several months is little to no return on investment, but hey, everyone’s doing it.
Social Media Links on Websites – (The Actual Topic of This Blog)
Before even addressing social media links on a website, I always reiterate…”What are your goals?” A business owners response is generally “to make money.” Remembering this simple goal always keeps a good information designer on track, designing strategies that will reap financial results. Since the goal is to build revenue – I need to preface the social media link discussion with something very important.
To really get an understanding as to why I preach what I do, let’s first talk about a simple behavior analysis which I call the A-Z model. The A-Z model represents, in it’s most basic form, the user learning about a product or service for the first time to eventually inquiring about it or purchasing. This A to Z model encompasses every procedure and thought process in the cycle; every single step involved that can be manipulated to take your user from start to finish: A-Z.
Your website is an extension of your business. It’s such an important role in the A-Z process of consumer acquisition and execution of creating a lead or sale. It’s sole purpose is to help business owners make money.
One thing I preach is DO NOT put social media links in sections that take up visual real estate on your websites, particularly your homepage or above the fold areas.
Blasphemy! How could he say such a thing?? – The downplaying of social media probably strikes many people as just plain odd, but in my experience it’s a no-brainer.
I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners, monitoring, studying and adjusting digital marketing to their advantage, and my goal has always been to help companies increase revenue. Along the way there are several stops that need to be addressed like branding, offline marketing and their product/service in general. Those who listened, were seriously rewarded. Those who didn’t wasted a lot of time, money and resources, and often enough came back to me in the end.
So why does what I say work? Because I base information design on user interaction and analytical facts, not hypes or trends. I would never advise someone to take up potential prime real estate with things that will distract the user in their A-Z process. Case and point: Social media links. (That’s just one example of common poor practices that we’ve seen grow in the internet landscape. When you start mixing one poor practice with another (and there are many) you are ultimately degrading the A-Z model that is trying to increase revenue.)
Remember, in following the A-Z model of your business, our goals are to create a potential lead or sale. With that said, every piece of text and information should be designed at keeping the user on the business owners website (not another platform), AND moving forward to that point of them buying or inquiring. This model works 100% of the time.
The Real Way to Use Social Media
The difference in people that monetize their traffic online and those that don’t is clear. Use social media as platforms to promote and send traffic TO your website, not away. Social media links on your site will take your audience away from your website and onto another platform (you lose). The millions of people that propagate the social media marketing circus in the end help Facebook or other social platforms make money and become billion dollar valued companies, not the actual business owner.
It’s quite possible that many naysayers will think I’m against using social media, so I will be perfectly clear. I don’t ever say not to use social media entirely, in fact it can be quite helpful , but people should be aware of the smart ways to use it, versus the stupid. There are plenty of businesses that benefit from active social media marketing.
In the end, you can have a million friends, likes, tweets and views, but if you don’t take advantage and convert those viewers over into actual sales then you are wasting your time, money and potentially degrading your brand.
The next time some hack marketeer solicits you to say how badly you NEED social media marketing, homepage links and all this garbage, stay strong and begin by asking yourself: Do I benefit from sending people away?