Should I add social media links to my website?

sharing your business on social media

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.

Social media is great for giving what marketers call social proof.

Social proof is outside evidence that others– especially your customers’ friends– already trust you and your brand. Social media gives your customers an opportunity to see real people interacting positively with your brand.

So many business owners, with the goal of improving their presence online, will want to connect their website with their social media pages, like their instagram feed or their facebook business page. And the idea is that it’s some kind of two-way street– that somehow, having that social media link will result in more traffic, more leads.

But it’s not an easy thing to get business that way, because it’s not a nice flat two way street; it’s a slippery, downhill slope to get someone to on social media, but it’s a rough uphill climb to get traffic from social media to your website.

So even though I believe in the wisdom of crowds for many things, this isn’t one of them. Many websites slap social media sharing buttons everywhere they can… but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

There are real drawbacks to having shiny, neon “Exit Here!” signs all over your website.

It’s great to have real people talking up your business on social media– that’s like money in the bank.

But once you’ve got someone on your website, there are more profitable goals than enticing them to leave your site.

“But I want them to share my content with their friends, too,” you may say. I mean, yes– that’s an ideal scenario! But realistically, the best shot you have is with the customer that’s already on your website. You wouldn’t interrupt an in-person sales conversation to ask the potential customer to tell their friends and family about your business. You’d stay on track until you made the sale. Then, once you’ve served them, they’ll be delighted to talk you up!

Here are three goals that will absolutely profit your business way more than a “like” on your facebook page:

  1. Get them to sign up for your mailing list. Many customers may find your page at a time when, for whatever reason, they are not quite ready to make a buying decision. They don’t have to be lost forever!
  2. Answer the #1 top-searched question related to your business. For many businesses, that question is “how much will it cost?” That’s why so many websites have “pricing” pages prominently linked in their primary navigation menus.
  3. Educate your customer on the number one drawback to your service or product. No, I’m not crazy! Your customers are already comparing the pros and cons, so lean into it and tell them why you’re the right choice after all.

If you’re convinced, stop reading now and think about how you can do 1-3 above!

But if you’re still thinking of prominently displaying links to social media on your website… let’s put ourselves in the shoes of your potential customer.

While visiting your site, they saw a link to their favorite social media platform. They clicked on that little social media badge to check out your activity there.

Your potential customer 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 in the first place.

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:

using social media to grow your website
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.

Kelsey Barmettler headshot

Kelsey Barmettler

I'm a web designer near Tucson, AZ and I write these articles to help business owners (including my clients) be more informed and empowered about their websites.