A while back, I watched a great webinar on website design by Gill Andrews. I ended up buying her book, which has bite-sized chapters which get straight to the point.
One thing she made me do was to remove the social media icons at the top of my website. And I’m here to tell you: don’t make this same mistake with your author website.
I was reminded of this yesterday in the middle of a business mentorship thingy from Ash Ambirge. I was one of the lucky beta folks who signed up, so I’m currently wallowing in all sorts of useful information.
Anyway, she also recommended removing these icons from the top of your business website page.
But, ha, thanks to Gill, I’d already ticked that one off my list. The icons were gone.
Gone, gone, gone.
Which is just as well because two of the three accounts were neglected and the other one is my nemesis. (My nemesis, if you’re interested, is Twitter.)
So, what’s the problem with your site visitors seeing your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram icons?
Well, apart from the fact you might be neglecting some of the accounts, so do you really want potential readers going over there? Guess what? That’s not actually the worst of it, though it’s not great.
No, here’s the bigger reason.
Social media icons are outbound links
If your social media icons are the first things they encounter when they land, they might just be tempted to click one of those icons.
And, folks, that would be terrible.
Those icons are outbound links. They are teleporters. Your visitor has now been teleported to another site.
Slap yourself with a wet kipper.
Cause you and I both know those social media sites are designed to be addictive.
How many website visitors are already longing to go back and check their Twitter or Facebook account anyway, to see what’s happening?
Far. Too. Many.
Don’t give them any more excuses than they have already.
Teleporting new visitors to Twitter is bad!
If you’re an author with a website, you don’t want your new website visitor to be offered a range of teleportation destinations that takes them AWAY.
It’s like installing a revolving door with the word ‘exit’ in Twitter and Facebook icons.
Because that’s what you’ve installed – a revolving door. Or, an exit right next to the entrance.
Or, just a plain old teleporter (and believe me, they’re old to those of us who watched the original Star Trek, or who’ve spent time in Second Life).
Don’t do it!
Think you can compete with Twitter? Ha!
I know having people follow you on social media would seem to make sense, but that’s not what’s likely to happen.
Seriously, it won’t.
Because… you can’t compete with cat videos and the latest news.
Your website visitor will forget about you right after they go ‘check out’ your social media account. Those top trends will catch their attention, or maybe you’re tweeting a hashtag that interests them.
Then, click, they’re gone!
Yes, your website may still be open in one of their browser tabs, but so are a million other things.
A million other things they will never return to.
Here’s the solution – remove the teleporters!
So, what do you do on your website?
First up, you remove those teleporters at the top of your home page.
The ones that present an invisible doorman who says, “Hey, nice to see you, now here’s the way out!”
Don’t wait until whenever.
Get rid of them.
And here’s the bigger reason why. It’s not just that most website visitors will spend mere seconds on a site before they leave (and you don’t want to push them out the door any faster). No, there’s another very good reason.
New visitors need time to get to know you
If they’re new to your site, they don’t know you yet. So, why would they follow you? There are so many people to follow. So many shiny accounts.
You need to ensure that you hook their interest in you first.
That means your website has to hold them for longer than a few seconds. You want to entice them to pull up a chair and browse your site.
You want them to get to know you and your work.
And you want to remove anything that will push them out the exit fast.
This also means you need to watch where you place outbound links.
You want your website visitor to have time to look around before they get tempted with anything clickable.
So, where do you put social media icons?
I have personally removed them completely for the time being, but you can put them at the very bottom of your page, in your footer. That way, your visitors have the chance to read your content first.
And if you’re finding social media addiction is interfering with your writing time, here’s an old post I wrote on social media blockers. I use Cold Turkey – the free version. There’s a paid version too which I haven’t used.