Your website exists to get you clients, not as a gateway to social media land.
Question: what do you like to do on social media? Do you like to read up on services that you want to purchase? Or do you want to read up on what your nephew is up to at school? Do you spend time reading every tweet tweeted by your dentist? Or do you tweet at your friends and see what they’re up to?
For most people, social media is for forging connection. This connection can lead to sales but the traffic has to move from social media to your website, not the other way around.
There are many psychotherapy websites that have huge, boldly colored, social media icons featured in primary locations and this is not ideal for keeping website visitors on your website.
Andy Crestodina called social media icons in the header, “candy-colored exist signs” and he’s exactly right.
Location Matters: Don’t Put Social Media Icons In The Header
Social media icons don’t belong in the header. Putting them there can entice visitors to leave before they’ve even had a chance to read about your services.
Website design convention has it that the website header is for your branding and your website’s navigation. Putting social media icons in the header is like saying, visiting my social media page is as important as finding out about my services. But it’s not as important.
It’s also incredibly distracting to have social media icons located in the header. Those icons are reminders of all the fun things we can do on social media. Like… kitten videos! Will thinking about kitten videos help your website visitors get to know you and your services? In most cases, no.
Other locations to avoid placing social media icons: a sidebar where you also have important calls to action (like for scheduling and appointment or optin in for your email list).
Social Media Icon Size and Color Matters Too
In website design, the location of items holds meaning and priority and so does an item’s relative size and contrast to the items around it.
The human eye is drawn to things that take up more space and things that are more contrast-y from the items that surround it.
This means that if your social media icons are huge or very contrast-y, this also is not the best approach to having an effective website. The attention of your website visitors ought to be going towards discovering your solutions and then reaching out to you to become your client.
In other words, social media is not the primary call to action on any page, so don’t design it to look like it is.
Especially the color thing. Many social media icons take on the color of the social media platform’s brand. So twitter icon is bright blue, youtube is red, linked in is blue, and so on. When you put several social media icons with their platform’s colors together, it creates a little rainbow.
This little rainbow is often the brightest, most contrast-y collection of colors on the page.
The Best Social Media Icon Approach
When it comes to social media icons on your website, the best approach is to:
- Place social media icons in the footer or on the contact page
- Do not visually emphasize the icons with color or size
The best location for social media icons is in the website footer or on the contact page. A website footer is useful if you would like to have website visitors access to these links on every page.
Social Media Icons In The Footer with Low Visual Emphasis
On the Bay Area DBT Center website, the icons are in the footer in a color that fits into the design but still makes them visible enough for those looking.
On the Hope & Possibility website, the icons use the website’s active link color. They grab some attention but not enough to distract from the primary call to action: to call the big phone number.
On the John Harrison Counseling website, the social media icons are centered and the website’s active link color. But they are small and places further away from the call to action to help reduce the exit sign factor.
Social Media: For Traffic To Your Website, Not Away from Your Website
Even when you put social media icons in a great location, making sure to use icons that match your website’s active color (the inline link color) will help them be there for when visitors are specifically seeking them but not in their face, vying for their limited attention.
If social media marketing is not a priority for you, then you may be fine including links or icons on a contact page.
The key is to remember the direction that the traffic should be flowing. Website visitors going to social media from your website doesn’t help you or your clients, so make sure the website design and strategy stops supporting social media exit signs.
What do you think of this solution? Do you have social media icons that are misplaced, large, or too colorful? Did you create an exit sign to all the kitten videos?