4 December
2014

Socially prepared sites are no longer a luxury. They should be the default.

Richard Muscat Azzopardi

Richard Muscat Azzopardi writes.

Trust is hard to earn and very easy to lose.

We usually spend years of our lives building relationships with people before they earn our trust.

This makes it very hard for a relatively random website to earn our trust quickly, so when building a website of any sort we need to make a great effort in order to earn our readers’ trust.

The thing is, once we’re gained the confidence of these readers, we want to make the best of it.

And what’s the best way to cash in on people’s trust? We should use the trust that others place in them to gain traction for our websites – usually via social sharing.

If someone likes your content enough to share it, then all their connections can safely assume that they have enough trust in your content to recommend it. Psychologically, this gives them the peace of mind that your content has been “validated” by someone they trust, therefore short-cutting a lot of the mental red tape that goes into deciding whether to believe what you read or to take it with a pinch of salt.

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A social media graph showing all the connections one person could lead to.

 

If all this was not enough to convince you that socially prepared websites are crucial for your business, then see the following statistic:

Around a third of overall traffic to websites in the first quarter of 2014 was generated from social media.

This was double the portion of traffic that social media accounted for just a year before – and the number is still growing.

Social-Media-Traffic-Referrals-July-2014-graph

You can’t afford to ignore social media. Your website must be built from the ground up with social media very firmly kept in mind.

So what do you do to facilitate social sharing?

You make it easy – by adding large and prominent share buttons and writing compelling reasons to share your content

You remind people to share – by including a strong call to action at the end of your content that politely reminds your readers that they should share it if they find it interesting. This might seem like a silly addition, but it can trigger an action that the reader might not have thought about otherwise.

You pre-fill shares – by using special tools that allow you to craft a series of prepared tweets and highlighting content that is highly shareable on your page. We use both on this blog. This helps your readers share your content without having to think too much, therefore removing another potential barrier.

You show them social validation – by displaying the number of shares your content has already received and, in some cases, displaying the people who have already liked the page. This acts as another form of implicit trust.

You prepare your site’s code to share – so that everything works well when your readers decide to share your content. We ensure that all our content includes the right code for Facebook shares to look their very best every time.

You make it easy for people to follow you – by making it hard for them to miss the fact that you’re also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the village church’s notice board. Every follower you gain is a potential future thought leader.

You enable social logins (i.e. logging into a site or service by connecting using your Facebook account, for example) – to make it very easy for your subscribers to follow your content without having to fill in any forms.

You set up Facebook comments – because they make life easier for anyone who’s already logged into Facebook when they want to leave a comment on your site and because some people allow their comments left using Facebook comments to be public to all, increasing your site’s exposure exponentially. One comment can lead to a significant number of views (the activity is shown to all the commenters’ friends).


This article is the fourth in a series of six articles about what we at Switch Digital believe to be the principles of great websites: Design, Reliability, Simplicity of use, Social-media prepared, Search-Engine Optimised & Future-proofing. If you want us to take a look at your website or would like a free consultation about how you can get a website which checks all these boxes, get in touch with us today.

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A little more about

Richard Muscat Azzopardi

Richard is Co-founder and Director of Online Marketing at Switch Digital, which specialises in building long-term relationships and increasing return on investment for clients online. In a previous life, Richard was a marketing manager in a US software company. His writing has been quoted in Forbes and appeared on Wired.com.