The Social Icon Overkill: How to Successfully Integrate Social Media on Your Hotel’s website
I sometimes get the feeling that businesses call up their web designer and say ‘Hey, please add some social media to our website’, and then hang up the phone.
It is obvious that, in many cases, very little thought was given to why and how social elements should be added to these sites. The result? In their quest for social media superstardom, these businesses often make it harder to use their websites, consume their content, and even book their products.
As powerful as social media can be for your tourism business, it is important to understand how it ties back your website and how to effectively integrate it. Here are some points to consider:
Don’t just link, think.
Before asking your web designer to add social media links to your site, consider what the value will be and how you expect visitors to use them. Do you simply want them to know that you have an online presence in other places, should they wish to explore it (which is totally fine)? Do you want them to interact with you via your social networking accounts (which is ideal)? Do you want them to share your business’ content with their online ‘circles’ using their social accounts (which can be really powerful)? The answer to these questions should have an influence on the way social media is integrated into your website.
Social linking vs social sharing
Firstly, you need to understand the difference between linking your website to your social media accounts, and giving your website visitors the ability to share your website’s content. These two types of social ‘graphics’ on your website appear very similar, but serve two very different purposes.
Understanding shareable content and creating social ambassadors
Having bright social sharing icons in every available spot on your website does not mean that your content will be shared by your visitors. Remember, quality content is still king. When someone shares something about your business or product with their friends and followers, their are putting their credibility on the line. Whether that is their intention or not, they are acting as on ambassadors for your product. Bottom line: people will only share content that adds value to others.
Examples of shareable content:
- Special offers
- Interesting blog posts
- Exceptional videos and images
- Product pages (rooms, tours, activities and experiences)
Social links and widgets
There are two common ways of linking your website to your social media profiles. A very common and effective method is to have social icons strategically placed on your site. Current design trends show that visitors are likely to look for these in either the header or the footer of your website.
Another way of integrating your social presence is through the use of social widgets. These are the interactive boxes or feeds we often see on websites, displaying a Facebook news feed, a Facebook like ‘counter’ or recent tweets. Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus make it fairly easy to add their widgets or ‘boxes’ to your website and any web designer should be able to do it without charging your a fortune. Note: Even though these widgets are interactive and drive real engagement, they are often large, takes up tons of space and can seem intrusive. Be careful about how and where they are added to your website.
A call to action and offering reward
A simple way of avoiding uncertainty and confusion on your website is to to simply tell visitors what you expect from them. ‘Join our Facebook community’, ‘Share this offer’ or ‘Follow us on Twitter’ is hard to misinterpret. Another benefit of this is that you can promise a visitor a ‘reward’ or outcome for clicking through to your social profiles e.g. ‘Join us on Facebook and share your experience’ or ‘Follow us and receive loyalty discounts’.
Please share and discuss any thoughts, questions or opinions about social integration in the comment bow below, we would love to hear your thoughts.