So you have a great website, and you’re writing great content and posting it regularly to your blog. You’ve heard people talk about adding “social media links” to your blog. But what, exactly, does that mean?
There are basically two different ways to add links to social media on your website: Links to your own social media profiles and links that encourage your readers to share your content on their profiles.
Create links to your social media profiles
This type of link is a simple hyperlink that leads a visitor away from your site to a profile page on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or any other social media service.
In order to set up this type of link, first you need to set up an account for your business or organization on whatever social media service you want to use. Once that’s set up, you can navigate in your web browser to the main profile page of each social media service, then copy and paste the URL of each one into a list of links.
For example, once you have a business page set up with Facebook, you can visit that page in a web browser. Place your cursor in the field at the top of the browser, select the URL (website address) and copy it. Open a text file, then paste the URL into the text file. Do the same with each of your other social media profiles. Usually, it’s ideal to place this list of links into a sidebar or some other location on your website that’s always visible. It would be a lot of work to paste these links into place every time you post to your blog. Your web designer can set this up for you if you provide him with your list of links.
Please keep in mind that it’s only advisable to link out to social media profiles if you’re active on those social media specifically to promote your business. Do you regularly post fresh content to your business’s Google+ account? Then a link to that profile is in order. Do you frequently post to your Facebook business page? A link to that profile is good, too. Do you have a neglected Tumblr account that you haven’t posted to for a few months? It’s best to leave that one off your website.
Encourage visitors to share your stuff on their social media
The second type of social media link is actually much more than a simple link. It’s a fancy program that makes it super easy for a visitor to share about a specific post from your website on her social media profile. Usually this type of link is best positioned at the bottom of each blog post. When someone clicks the button to share your blog post on Facebook, for example, a window appears that invites her to share your blog post on her Facebook page, with the simple push of a button.
It’s still always possible, and pretty easy, for someone to share your blog post manually with his social network, by copying and pasting the URL of your blog post into the sharing feature of his social media account. But if your site has these fancy sharing links, then he doesn’t even need to do that. He can just click the button, and if he’s logged into his social media profile your post will be shared immediately.
These buttons are great to encourage visitors who like your content to share it easily with their social networks. However, these buttons do come with a price: they require a lot of fancy code and they need to interface with a lot of different social media websites, and this can bog down your website, especially if you use a lot o them. A good website developer can help you balance the benefit of making it convenient to share your content with the cost of potentially slowing page load times, and can reduce page slowdowns as much as possible.
Often, visual icons are used in place of, or in addition to, text links. They might look fancy, but they’re still just links. There are a lot of different styles out there for both types of social sharing links. Some websites have them stuck to the edge of the screen. Some use loud, vivid colors and large icons. Some are vertical, and others are horizontal. It’s nice to have visually enticing buttons or icons for social media links, but please beware of making things look too busy or cluttered on your website. If the social media links are competing for visual attention with the content on your website, then those links aren’t serving you or your audience.