3 Essential Elements of Visual Branding for Social Media
If you don’t have social media sharing and follow buttons on your website, it sends a message you’re not serious about connecting with your customers. Social media marketing is no longer an option — it needs to be built into every company’s marketing and design strategies. Even if your website is gorgeous, has incredible SEO and offers the best products and services, you won’t get the most out of it without social share and follow buttons.
Both types of buttons connect your brand’s social media presence to your website, giving your audience a seamless experience. Consistent design elements across platforms give your brand a cohesive visual presence online.
Why Your Website Needs Social Media Follow Buttons
Social media follow buttons make it easy for your audience to follow your brand and the content you’re sharing online. Clicking one takes visitors to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media profile. Including these buttons on your website boosts your brand’s credibility and opens an important channel for your users and followers to receive your marketing messages, news, blog posts and other content. Your users may not come to your website all the time, but if they are following your brand on social media, you have just added an important touchpoint.
Follow buttons should be easy to find — either in the top right corner of your website’s header or in the bottom right corner of its footer, so they can be seen on every page. There are a lot of cool ways to display social media follow buttons, including a variety of icons, ribbons and popouts.
- Datafinity Group uses both ribbons and buttons — the result is colorful, interactive and fun.
- Lindsey Pollak’s follow buttons are subtle and classy.
- Vantage PR has a footer-based follow button with a subtle rollover. Bring your cursor over the icon to see it in action.
- Global Study Connections has a great tagline about staying connected to get people to click on the follow button.
- The Next Web also has a cool-looking ribbon for displaying its follow buttons.
A caveat: Use social follow buttons only for active social media channels. It’s disappointing to visitors when they click on a social icon and be taken to a site with no recent posts — or worse, an incomplete profile. If you aren’t committed to keeping up with a social media channel, don’t include it in your follow buttons.
Why Your Website Needs Social Media Sharing Buttons
Social media sharing buttons make it easy for visitors to share a piece of content from your website with their followers. Clicking it opens a window that allows the visitor to share your content on their Facebook profile, Twitter feed or other social media timeline.
Social media sharing buttons can go just about anywhere as long as they don’t distract from the content itself. They should be easily recognizable and easy to use. Some examples:
- Vantage PR’s share button is bold, but far enough away from the content that it works.
- The button we use on the 3 Media Web site is subtle and interactive.
- The Next Web’s social sharing ribbon element also has a counter to show how many times something has been shared.
Use Design to Create a Consistent Visual Brand
A company’s social media pages should be seen as an extension of its website and always include recognizable design elements from the site. Most social media sites have areas for logos and cover images — these should be always be customized and reflect your current branding and design. Different channels require different sized images, so you should make the investment to create the correct sizes for each channel.
- Change Facebook cover images often. Your followers will get a notification when you do.
- Share images via Twitter. They make your tweets stand out among the crowd, and more compelling for retweeters.
- Make Google+ posts heavy on visuals. A Google+ profile is very important as an SEO marker for indexing, so be sure to feed it content with images, even if you don’t have a lot of followers.
- Get personal. Practice good etiquette by promptly replying to comments and questions you receive on social media. And, when you like someone else’s post, retweet and share. Sharing others’ content shows your followers you’re paying attention.