Let’s face it, websites are sprouting up faster than spring flowers and being a webmaster is more difficult than ever. We all wish we could return to the days of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, when a nerdy enthusiast child could end up creating a popular forum community or well-visited website. From GeoCities to self-hosting on an old Dell computer with dial up, pages could be pushed out to the world from anywhere – and with little competition. And yet today we face an even larger issue other than just competing with similar sites. The attention the average person gives to social media apps and pages is overwhelmingly more than they give to even established news networks or interesting sites. From YouTube and media sharing communities to social networks like Facebook or even LinkedIn, there are a lot of online destinations distracting would-be visitors (to our sites) that we must consider. This is what we must aim to benefit from. Hopefully this is all old news to you, but unfortunately there are still millions of webmasters that are either unaware or negligent in their online endeavors.
Of course, there are plenty of other things you can do to improve your content such as ensuring your pages are mobile-friendly or even completely customized, and maybe that has worked for you in the past. Perhaps you are happy with people copying & pasting your website links into their Twitter statuses or messaging their friends a link to an article you wrote. However, for many of you this may not be enough. Having a website without social plugins that allow your site to connect with the most popular communities is no longer a reasonable option. Neglecting one of the most common ways to spread your content online is a mistake.
Your Website & Social Media
Whether you run a small local company, a global business, or a new online community, you need to be managing your social media pages. Of course it sounds like a lot, but compared to the days of no air conditioning, no running water, and snail mail, can you really complain? Surely you can come up with a few words to share on Twitter or a question to ask your Facebook followers when you publish an article. Even if you are managing a forum community, some of the discussions your members create can be incredible resources for your niche and interesting to people globally. It does not matter what site you own – You need to be sharing your pages on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube.
Don’t stress out too much. There are plugins to handle all of these various social networks and apps. Whether it’s the free WordPress plugin Blog2Social to automatically share your new articles or the unbranded Social Share Sidebar for XenForo, or literally anything else, your site will be better off with social integration. Whether it automatically publishes content to your pages or allows visitors to one-click share, your site will benefit significantly. Even web software with built in social sharing features can benefit from a more enhanced software add-on.
Problems With Social Media Share Buttons
Of course, with great opportunity comes great responsibility, and unfortunately for us there have been countless webmasters who did not understand the implications of their share buttons early on. Research shows that the average site visitor will naturally distrust buttons for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, etc. When these features first became available, many developers took advantage of the relaxed privacy features of the most popular social networks and used their share buttons to essentially spam their content. Even worst, some websites and apps even took temporary control of online accounts, constantly sharing advertisements and links across their members’ pages.
However, that does not mean that social media sharing buttons are something to veer away from. You just have to do it right. Take a look at Medium for example. You can simply highlight some text and a small social toolbar pops up over your mouse allowing you to quote the highlighted text in a reply or Tweet. This an incredible example of a modern sharing feature! Whether you get fancy like the developers at Medium or simply promise your members and even yourself to never abuse their trust, you can definitely boost your traffic with these types of plugins and features.
Single Sign-On Plugins
Single sign-on and other account related features are common on the most popular social networks, and they are becoming absolutely necessary. These social plugins are available for the most popular online software such as WordPress, and forum platforms like XenForo or MyBB. They allow users to sign up for your website with the click of a button (or two). Even with a rather simple registration form, people just aren’t as intrigued by the possibilities of joining a new website like they were in the past. The attention span of the average visitor is rapidly decreasing as notifications, messages, and reliance on social media take away time from exploring new sites. Simply put, even with great content and a thriving online community, many potential lovers of your website will simply scroll past or close out in favor of a site like Facebook or Reddit.
Anything Is Better Than Nothing
I get it – This may all sound confusing or intimidating to you. Plugin installations, privacy policies, building trust, and advancing your website forward in 2019 and into 2020 can seem like a daunting task. Don’t worry about the details. Any sort of social media integration is better than none. If you think a single sign on plugin can help your community grow, go for it, and if you don’t then you can always just share your favorite forum discussions or articles manually on your social pages. Whatever you do though, don’t neglect the responsibility entirely. It’s 2019 and if your content or business pages aren’t connected to the world through means other than your own websites, you’re neglecting a huge part of being a modern webmaster. Just like the most famous logos had to be updated and cool looking gradient effects became flat, your understanding of social media must change as well. For some of you this may seem like old news, but based on research there is an overwhelmingly large number of webmasters simply ignoring these fantastic ways to improve their site’s ability to reach even the farthest areas of the world.