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June 28, 2012

How to Choose Social Plugins for Your Website

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You want your website to be more social, but you’re not quite sure where to begin. You’ve added some standard plugins, because hey, the competition is using them and you don’t want to be left out. You see some social activity occurring on the site, but you’re not sure if you’re getting the most out of your plugins or how they contribute to the bigger picture.

This is not an uncommon scenario for businesses – even large brands with even larger sites struggle with social integration on their website. But if you’re not approaching social plugins strategically, you may as well not have them at all.

Choosing social plugins for your site should be driven by site goals, social media goals, business goals. The key is in the approach: understand that social connectivity on your site is a tactical response to your overall strategy. Your plugins don’t make the decisions about where you’re going in social, they help you get to where you want to go.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the things you can accomplish with social plugins, explore how goals drive the decision and what to look out for prior to making your site social.

What Can You Do with Social Plugins?

1. Share Content
Some social media plugins are strictly for sharing the content on a Web page. These come in the forms of the Like button, Tweet button, Pinterest’s Pin button, etc. These plugins can be used on individual Web pages within a site and on blog posts. Plugins like these help push your online content deeper into the Web via social networks.

2. Build Community
Your website visitors might not know you are active in communities like Google Plus or YouTube if you don’t make it visible on your site. Certain social plugins allow visitors to follow your brand in any given social network with just a click; this can can help build your communities with little effort.

3. Engage Visitors
Providing a social experience directly on your site creates a more engaging visit, and allows users to connect more deeply with your brand. Social plugins like Facebook’s Activity Feed or Comments allows users to interact socially on the site without having to go to the network itself.

4. Complete Tasks
Certain social plugins help visitors facilitate tasks more easily on your site. Whether it’s registering for something or simply logging in, these types of plugins allow users a way to complete a task quickly, using information and authentication from that person’s social network. Another way to look at task completion is from a company task point of view. Some social plugins facilitate things like customer service. The Twitter mention button is a good example of this.

How Goals Influence the Social Plugins You Choose

The first step to understanding what social plugins and buttons are appropriate for your website is knowing what your goals are, sitewide and from a social perspective. This process becomes complicated when you’re talking large enterprises with many sectors that have competing goals.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider the following questions:

  • What are the individual goals for all the social networks you’re currently participating in? How can social integration on the site help you reach those goals?
  • What do you want to your visitors to be able to accomplish or do while they are on the site? Do individual Web pages or sections on the site have competing goals? Write down your wish list to further investigate how social plugins can help with your conversions.

What to Plan for Prior to Adding Plugins

There are a lot of things you have to plan for before the actual integration of social plugins on your site. This is especially true for large enterprises. Among the many things to consider, here are just a few:

Social Media Icons

How do you choose which social plugins go on your site?

  • What sort of restrictions do you face with integrating social plugins on the site? This can be anything from technical restrictions to approval roadblocks.
  • How will you decide what sectors or departments will have priority socially on the site? Build out your site’s social media integration starting at high-level (sitewide plugins) to microlevel (individual pages).
  • How will your proposed concepts impact user experience? It’s easy to think about all the great things you can accomplish when you make your site more social, but you also have to think about the not-so-great possibilities. Consider things like: Will the plugins slow page load time? Will they clutter up the site too much? These types of things can negatively impact user experience and your brand online.
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One response to “How to Choose Social Plugins for Your Website”

  1. Mark Sander writes:

    Awesome tips! It would be more helpful if you can provide links to some social sharing tools too.



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