Why you may not want to add one to your own site
When preparing to build a new website for a client, we discuss what site functionality they will need. Contact forms, event calendar, appointment scheduler, and e-commerce are some common functions. Occasionally, we are asked to include a social media feed, also called social streaming.
Adding this functionality is not complicated. However, we like to have a conversation with our clients to explain the pros and cons. In this article, we review the most consequential drawbacks of adding a social media feed to a website.
Let’s start with this: what is a social media feed?
A social media feed pulls content from a social media account and displays it on a web page.
At first glance, this might sound like a great idea. If you’re updating your social media frequently, then pulling posts from these platforms gives Google new relevant content to index. Adding the feed means your website gets updated without your doing any extra work, and the information is consistent throughout. All sounds pretty reasonable. Unfortunately, we have found that the benefits don’t always outweigh the negatives.
Why we generally do not recommend social media feeds on websites
Social streaming can, and usually does, slow down a website
Adding a feed requires extra scripts from third party sites that can significantly slow down the rate at which your pages load. A slow page speed score will negatively affect where your site ranks in search. This can result in fewer people finding your site in search and, ultimately, fewer people visiting your website. See why Google weighs page speed heavily.
Feeds are unlikely to match your branding
The format and layout of the feed is determined by each individual platform. It is not something that can be changed or customized. Facebook’s feed follows Facebook’s branding, Instagram looks like Instagram, Twitter looks like Twitter. From the perspective of each individual social media company, that makes sense. They’re looking out for themselves. Unfortunately, their style is unlikely to match your branding. In fact, it is more likely to clash and clutter your own design.
Feeds can be a distraction
Always keep in mind that websites are not ads. When advertising is placed within news content, you need to distract the reader. Your goal is to turn their focus away from what they were doing and get them to notice you.
A website, on the other hand, doesn’t have to “grab their attention.” They are already on your site! When someone lands on your web page, they are there for a reason. They are looking for something.
When you’re building pages on your website, constantly ask yourself, “What do I want the site visitor to do here? What is my goal?” With this in mind, build your pages and your message in ways that will steer them do something specific – schedule an appointment, make a purchase, download a white paper. The addition of a social media feed is likely to be a distraction from your core message.
Ultimately, you must decide, what is the purpose of Your website?
Where does your website fit in your overall marketing plan? For many, the website is the final destination in their marketing funnel. Social media, print and digital ads and word of mouth advertising funnel customers to the website. There they are able to complete your goal – schedule an appointment, make a purchase, download a white paper.
If you structure your funnel in this way – why would you want to send them off your site back to the social media page?
Clearly, it is important to share with your site visitors links to all your social media pages. We want them to stay engaged and social media pages are a good way to stay in touch. But how does the feed increase the likelihood that they will move forward in the direction you are working toward?
If adding a social media feed were all it took to keep a website up to date, everyone would be doing it. Take a look at some big name websites. Are they including social media feeds? The bottom line is that marketing is work. The companies that are willing and able to do it well reap the benefits. The trick is to be smart and efficient. Spend your time doing the work that will give you the biggest return.
Your web developer can help you determine what is worth doing and what isn’t, what is likely to give a return and what is likely to fail, or worse, backfire.