There are two simple truths that we author-preneurs all know: 1. it’s not the easiest thing to earn visitors to your website, and 2. social media activity is a way to entice visitors.
As an author, as an entrepreneur, as a business-minded individual, you know you have to be on social media. Social media is how you establish a web presence, build a following, and engage with your readers and fans. If you’ve been at this game for a while, and are particularly social media savvy, then you know that the whole point of online interaction through social media is to drive traffic to your website. That’s how you sell your books, your work, your services. It’s how you advertise and market and network.
But did you know that social media might actually be leaching your hard-earned visitors away from your site?
Social Sharing Buttons
Here’s what happens. You want your visitors to know where they can find you on social media. So, in designing your website, you include links and buttons to all your various profiles. It’s not uncommon. In fact, a study by marketing design search engine Crayon found that 75% of websites have social integration, with homepages featuring one or more social media links. Many sites even make the buttons as big and as colourful as they possibly can.
But think about that for a minute. Is having your visitors click through to your social media site really what you want them to do? What’s on that external platform that is going to sell you?
Chances are that the answer is … not much.
Social Media Doesn’t Sell You
As you know, the point of your social media activity is to drive traffic to your website, not to drive traffic away from it. Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing. Does your Facebook page lay out your books, work and services better than your website does? Does it tell visitors, in one comprehensive spot, where to buy your books like your “My Books” landing page on your website does? No. And Twitter. Where on your Twitter profile is your dedicated, visual, connected and optimized sales page? Nowhere.
One fact that you cannot forget about social media sites is that they are their own businesses. Their mandate is to attract and retain visitors through their users’ activity. That’s the way they’re going to make advertising revenue, after all. Even though they are social media marketing tools, they are not effectively marketing you. They are not optimized to promote you. Your website is. So why are you sending your hard-earned visitors away from the place that is going to sell you?
What’s the Fix?
You do, of course, want to make sure your audience can find you on social media—once you’ve kept them on your page for as long as you possibly can. That’s the key. You don’t want them clicking away from your website prematurely. There are three ways you can do this:
- Make your social media buttons smaller, and make them all one colour. You don’t want big, colourful buttons distracting your viewers and enticing them away before they’ve had a good glimpse of your website.
- Put your social media buttons into a sidebar. Or, better yet, in the footer of your website. That way, your viewers have to actively look for them, instead of being confronted with them at the very top of your website.
- Only share your social media buttons in your “Contact” page. That way, there is no distraction. Your buttons are still there, but they’re not the first thing your viewers see.
If your viewers are on your webpage, their first thought is probably not going to be “How on earth do I connect with this wonderful author?” (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news if you thought it was.) You don’t want to lead them down that path if they weren’t actively going there in the first place. For those visitors that do want to connect with you, and who are looking for your social media spots on your website, then rest assured that they will probably take the extra step or two to find your links, wherever they are on your page.
I’ll leave you with a parting thought: Most of my Twitter followers didn’t connect with me through my website, and most of yours won’t either. My tweeps found me on Twitter through my activity there. My Facebook fans found me through Facebook after they read my books and wanted to connect. My website visitors went to my page because they wanted to know more about me and my books—specifically, where to buy them. I bet that’s how your followers are engaging with and finding you, too. So don’t make the mistake of leading your interested viewers away from the best place where they can find out about you—your own website.