So I decided to remove all social media buttons from my website.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one these social media phobic photographers. You will never hear me say: “Only bad photography is successful on social media.” or “I simply don’t get Instagram”
I love social media. I’m active on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter with an overall following of 100k+. I know, 100k does not mean that much. I love getting to know new stuff and new people, I enjoy the casual and non-committal exchange. And yes, it happens: clients find me on social media. And I don’t mind that either.
So social media is great – but not on my photography website. Let me explain why.
Social media buttons are ugly
You worked hard to make your website look nice. Matching colors, typography, icons. Enter the social media icons: Different colors, different typography, different design language. A sequence of social buttons will look like a mess. Yes, you can assign them all the same neutral color and the same size. It is still a disaster from a design perspective.
Social media buttons are confusing
Social media buttons actually are confusing, because there are two very different kinds of social media buttons:
- The button linking to your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account
- The “share” button which allows website visitors to share the page they are currently visiting on their own social media account
So you have to explain to your website visitors what kind of social media button they are looking at, because they want to know, what happens when they press that button. This means more text: “Check out my…”, Follow me on…” or “Share on..” and even more visual mess. The alternative is no text, and the buttons risk to be ignored because their purpose is unclear.
Social media buttons make you look needy
Please share this, please me follow me here…why beg? You look needy and it does not really work that way. Nobody hands out shares and follows for free. People do expect quality content in return. Creating engaging content on your website and on your social media channel of choice will result in follows and shares. Begging will not.
Social media buttons don’t work
Social sharing from the website works well for high authority, high traffic websites. With a niche blog like mine, people are far less inclined to share. My recent article “Street Photography: Shoot! Better a fast shot than none” was republished by Petapixel.com. The article coming from my website got 96 shares, likes and comments on Facebook. The very same article published by Petapixel.com got over 1,316 reactions on Facebook. That it 13x more social feedback, simply because the article was published on an authoritative high traffic site.
And only if I share my articles directly on social media, they will gain any traction in the social sphere. So rather than cluttering your website with share buttons, promote your website content directly on social media.
Finally most shares on social media are dead ends done by users with little to no reach.
Nothing will come from those shares, no added visibility, no new followers, no additional website traffic.
Social media buttons drive your visitors away
For me, this is the most important reason. The website is the one online place where I have all the information about me in a well organized manner. I want a visitor of my website
- to look at my work
- learn more about me
- read my blog
- book a workshop or a shooting
- buy a print
I certainly don’t want a visitor to go on social media, where my content is presented in a very diluted way, competing with notifications, ads and thousands of other feeds. And that is exactly what happens when a visitor presses a social media button. He or she will enter the social media sphere and will be off my content within seconds.
Basically I want people to come from a social channel to my website and not the other way round.
Social media does very little for your website
The website and the social sphere are different worlds and they don’t mix very well. Different formats, different languages.
In the end, social media does very little for your website. Some very short lived referral traffic, that is all you can hope for. There are no SEO advantages coming from social media activity. There are no beneficial long term effects.
And these share buttons can actually harm your website:
- Some of these share buttons come with excessive user tracking – quite a problem if privacy of your users and GDPR matter to you.
- Share buttons may slow down your website. And load time is one of the key factors of gaining and keeping visitors on your website.
Website visitors are precious. They found the one place where you can tell your story, the way you like it
- without limits in form or content
- without competition in content from other users
- without distraction from notifications
The website is the one spot in the internet you really own, the place where you decide about form and content and that makes it the place with the best information about yourself and your work.
There is simply no reason why you should sacrifice the undivided attention of a website visitor for the dubious benefit of a potential follower, share or like on social media.
Martin U Waltz is a photographer, educator and writer in Berlin. His passion is street photography. The streets of Berlin are his preferred hunting ground.
Martin has written and co-authored several books on street photography. Martin has won numerous photography awards and his work has been shown in exhibitions around the world.
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