Should I add social media links to my website?

Recently, I was asked by a client if they should be connecting their social media accounts to their website. In other words, adding links in the form of icons, buttons, badges, or a “social media sharing bar”– whatever you want to call it. The answer to this is, as with many matters in life, it depends.

I’ll lay out all the info so that you, as an informed and empowered website owner, can make the best choice for your business.

What’s good about linking to social media from your website?

Social media is great for two things:

  • Driving traffic to your site, and
  • Giving “social proof” to your brand

Social proof is outside evidence that others– especially your customers’ friends– already trust you and your brand. Social media is great at this, because it gives your customers an opportunity to see folks they know interacting positively with your brand.

What are some potential concerns about linking to social media from your website?

A link is a valuable thing. In a way, it’s the coin of the realm for the internet.

Just like real money, it’s important to have more coming in than you are spending. So you want to have links flowing in to your site from outside sources.

But linking out to social media on your website is a bit like an outgoing expense. Just like with money, when you spend it you hope you get something valuable in return. You might be benefiting from social proof as mentioned above if you have an active profile, and nice reviews or recommendations.

What’s the real cost of this link to another site? Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of your potential customer who while visiting your site saw a link to their favorite social media platform. They’ve clicked on that little social media badge to check out your activity there.

Your potential customer has now navigated away from your site and is being bombarded with their friends’ latest posts, news items, and advertisements for anything and everything. It’s now very likely that they get sucked in and forget why they visited your site. We’ve probably all experienced it– that’s how those platforms are designed to work. If they’re on a mobile device, the distraction is even more complete, since they’re probably taken to an entirely different app and it’s not as easy as clicking back to the tab with your website in it. Their purchasing decision process is now on indefinite hold. Out of sight, out of mind.

If you have a lead who is far along in the buying process, it’s also very possible that they will be targeted by your competitors with ads while they are on social media.

In fact, even if your competitors aren’t running an active ad campaign, competing businesses may be advertised right on your very own page... yes, the page to which you just linked your potential customer. To see how this happens, open a private browsing window and go your own facebook page, and scroll down to related pages. You may see your direct competitors’ pages being advertised right on your very own page, as in the image below:

This facebook page was chosen at random– I’m not associated with the business.

Note: If you don’t see the “related pages” heading, log out of facebook and check again. If you’re logged in and you have access to your Facebook page as an editor or admin, you won’t see this particular section when you view your own page… I wonder why? Just kidding. It’s pretty obvious why.

Bottom line: Thoughtfully consider whether you are benefiting from your links to social media, and consider placing them in the footer area of your site rather than competing with your main calls-to-action. If you need a distraction-free user experience, like a landing page, consider leaving them out.