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Integrating Social Media without Sacrificing UX

By Chris Brown

Although there’s some correlation between an active social stream added on a website and improved search rankings, it’s tough to tell whether the boost comes from added social media activity or whether the addition of social to the website actually affects SEO.

Even though it’s tough to quantify its effect on search marketing, adding social media to your website for specific purposes delivers tangible value to your users:

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Event notifications

If you use your social media feeds to keep followers up-to-date about business related events, adding the stream to your website provides something helpful to your customers.

Frequent customer interactions

If your brand attracts a lot of positive user-generated content and customer interaction, showcasing your social feeds helps you position yourself as a customer-centric business.

B2B content curation

When you’re operating B2B, you can provide value to your customers by sharing the latest industry news and trends on your website. Incorporating your social stream into your website makes this easy.

Recruiting talent

One of the most valuable uses of social media on your website can be recruitment. If you post job openings on social, then a social stream on your website can alert people who are researching your company to ways they can join your team.

If one of these uses for a social stream makes sense for your business, then it’s time to incorporate a social stream into your site. Just make sure that you don’t let social media ruin your UX.

Social streams in the form of widgets and plugins work well for showcasing customer interactions and for recruiting messaging. You can use several different tools for adding social streams to your website, including widgets and plugins:

Jetpack widgets

Jetpack provides WordPress.com widgets for social streams that you can use on both WordPress.com and WordPress.org sites. Find social widgets on your Dashboard under Appearance > Widgets. From the list of widgets on the left, drag widgets like “Twitter Timeline” or “Facebook Like Box” to the sidebar or footer areas of your pages.

Plugins

If you don’t like the look of Jetpack tools, you can choose multiple plugins from WordPress.org that will create widgets for your WordPress site.

Drupal or Joomla

If you manage a Drupal site, you can use a module like Activity Stream to integrate social media streams into your website. Joomla users can check out the JUX Social Stream extension.

One of the biggest UX mistakes people make is to let their social streams clutter their website. When you add social streams to your footer or one of your sidebars, preview three posts at most so that your streams don’t get out of control. Also, don’t let your social stream interfere with navigation. Make sure that social streams look good on both desktop and mobile sites.

Dedicated Social Media Pages

If you curate content for your audience or use your social network feed as an event calendar, consider integrating a dedicated social page into your website. RebelMouse, founded by former Huffington Post CTO Paul Berry, lets you aggregate your social network feeds onto a single page that you can then include as part of your website. For example, you could set up your social streams in RebelMouse, and then link to your RebelMouse page under “Event Calendar” on your navigation menu.

In addition to posting content from your own social media feeds. RebelMouse and other tools, like Tint, let you pull in user-generated content to your social web page as well as content that incorporates hashtags. If you want to cover a specific event, for instance, you could set up Tint to grab all of the event hashtags and display the content on your Web page. Some tools allow you to preview content before you incorporate it, while others simply grab and post content without letting you approve it. Consider whether your reputation depends on filtering your content before deploying your social Web page.

Social Integration with a Purpose

If social streams fulfill a compelling business purpose for your website, then incorporate them in a smart way. Alternatively, if they’re just one more thing to cram into your design, don’t sacrifice UX to jump on the social integration bandwagon.

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Comments
integraphix

And what's better about using plugins is that you can always remove them if they are not working out. As a web designer in Los Angeles, I use WordPress a lot (no, I'm not doing a plug for WP for $$) and I love their plugins for everything, especially social media.

batia

Wordpress is the most hacked CMS. I never recommend it to my customers. It's being hacked almost on a weekly basis.

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