You should consider many factors when getting involved in Social Media Marketing, such as the quality of your content, your domain name, and who is submitting your content. But there is almost always one thing I find myself looking at before any of the above conversations even begin: the design.
You need to make sure your site is designed and performs in a way that is suitable for social media.
Most social communities are not filled with web novices or beginners. They are filled with internet savvy individuals, who know what a site should look like, and more importantly, which sites are legit and which sites are just spammers trying to look legit.
Below are some tips and suggestions that you can apply to your site, to make it social media friendly.
- Be Modern. It has never been easier to upgrade your site with a modern design. Web design templates are for sale everywhere, sites like 99designs.com offer contests to get designs, and there are a ton of templates and designs that you can use for free.
Your website is your store or place of business online. Just like in the real world, no one wants to step into a messy, old, dirty, and broken down office when considering whether to do business with you and your company.
- Be Hospitable. Make it easy for people to see your content and read it without interruption.
Don’t force people to view more than one page in order to finish your article and avoid any sort of pop-ups or distractions.
- Downplay ads. There is a time and a place for having advertisements on a web page and that time is almost never during a social media campaign.
A social media campaign normally lasts up to 24 hours. During that time, you are likely to see around 100 to 300 unique visits to your site. Doesn’t seem like much compared to the 10,000 to 100,000 thousand you will get once your campaign is successful, does it? So why potentially risk having someone associate your site as spam, resulting in them casting a negative vote on your submission?
Leave ads off your site until your social media campaign has succeeded or failed. This way you take no risk at someone associating your site or content with a marketing ploy to make money.
If you must leave ads on your site, limit them or position them in a way that does not interfere with the content and annoy a potential voter.
- Give Visitors a Button to Push. It is important to include social media buttons so that your visitors are able to help vote for your content. Social Media is about getting votes so make sure your regular readers have an opportunity to vote on your content.
- Serve Visitors Quickly. Always make sure your page loads the content as quickly as possible. Try coding your site in a way that loads any components that could potentially delay the content from being rendered. You can use CSS or other popular coding options to accomplish this.
Social media users have hundreds of sites and articles they want to read each day. They don’t have the time and won’t sit around long waiting for your content to load. They might even get frustrated enough to vote negatively on your submission, so make sure your content loads quickly.
Be sure to check your firewall settings as well to make sure you are not funneling people in such a way that they cannot get the page to load.
These issues become even more important once your social media campaign becomes successful. A page that won’t load is just as damaging as a page not found.
Save the Sales Pitch for Someone Who Cares. The group of people who actually vote before the campaign is successful is actually very small. The groups are made up of advanced users who are not likely to be interested in your service or product.
Avoid trying to sell something during the social media campaign. It is rarely going to convert and it could end up getting you associated with spam and negative votes.
Many sites try to put a call to action in their closing paragraph. Don’t try to end the content with a sales pitch, just end it and wait for the social media campaign to be successful. Once your campaign has either failed or succeeded, you are free to add your sales pitch into the content.
SPAM much? As much as you would probably want the word “free” to grab people, it really doesn’t. In social media the word “free” pretty much equals “spam”. So try to avoid the terms that are often associated with spammers and advertisements.
If you happen to sell insurance, then you do not want your side bar to say “insurance” in all 20 links. You also do not want your logo to have the catch phrase “Get Your Free Quote Now” bolded across the header. The keywords used in your header, logo, and navigational links can betray your true intentions and that can lead to being associated with spam, negative votes, and possibly a domain ban.
Don’t Be THE MAN, Unless You Can. No one likes authority and no one wants THE MAN telling them what to do. As a corporate site you are often going to be seen as having a biased view or an alternative motive for publishing your content.
However, if your brand is large enough then it adds some validation and respect to the content you publish. Many top news agencies, blogs, and communities can publish content that is branded and do extremely well in social media.
Telling whether you can be THE MAN or not, is a case by case situation. If you are not sure whether you have that level of respect amongst the social media community sites, then you should limit the amount of corporate branding you have on the pages you plan to push in your social media campaigns.
Remember each component in the social media process is important and how your site looks and operates is going to be a critical first impression for your visitors. You always want your site to be inviting and easy to submit or vote on in social media.
Brent Csutoras is an internet marketing consultant, who specializes in social media, viral and search engine marketing. The Let’s Get Social column appears Tuesdays (except for holiday weeks like this week) at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.