Social media icons: 4 reasons to hide them

How social media icons divert users from your website


Like many NYC kids, when my son Matt was young he had a thing for playing in revolving doors. Once he spotted a revolving door in a building entrance, he’d run to it, and start pushing the door all the way around until he was back outside where he started.

Round and round he‘d go, until I’d snap out my haze of early-parenthood exhaustion and make him stop.

The revolving door website

Strangely enough, the revolving door experience can be found on many websites. Its easy to spot a revolving door website – look for the prominent social media icons in the header. 
When you display social media icons prominently, you are inviting users to click and go to your social media page. 
This is a bad idea. 

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You’ve invested a lot in getting users to your website: SEO, offline advertising, content markeitng, Adwords… You want them to stay as long as possible, and motivate them to take actions that produce ROI. 
Why would you encourage users to leave your website as soon as they arrive? 

Social media icons: 4 reasons to hide ’em

  • Almost always, web pages should have one keyword, one thought and one call to action. That’s it. Giving a user more options on a page makes your web page less effective – especially calls to action.
  • When users leave your website for Facebook they go to a platform you don’t own. Remember that FaceBook has business goals that may not align with yours – they are rapidly evolving to a paid search platform. And your page is governed by Facebook’s restrictions. For example, “likes” are a much weaker conversion than acquiring an email address. It is always better to grow your own email list than depend on a Facebook community.
  • A related pitfall is overuse of social sharing icons. If your sharing numbers are not impressive, it’s better just to not offer sharing – otherwise it looks like your website has a weak following. If a motivated user really likes your content, they will find a way to share it and comment – that’s much more powerful than a generic share.
  • Also, watch out for displaying shares on inappropriate pages. For example, do users really want to share your terms and conditions page? If you are going to use them, be judicious about what content is worth sharing.

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