It is more important than ever for businesses to stay connected to their consumers. The prevalence of social media has enabled small businesses and large corporations alike to generate multiple touch points among their consumer bases, allowing for a constant flow of information to and from the company and customers.
However, with more demand on consumers’ time, it’s important for businesses to make it easy for their customers to stay in touch. In the digital age, this has been made easier with the incorporation of social media streams and widgets.
A social feed (also called a “social stream”) typically pulls real-time data that is connected to specific social media accounts.
For example, if you company is very active on social media, you may want to place a Facebook widget on your website that shows the real-time status of your company’s Facebook page. This widget refreshes on a regular schedule (typically every 30 to 60 seconds) and displays any new activity on your page. This can include new posts or comments, photo or video uploads or status updates.
In the case of a Twitter widget, it would display any activity on your account, such as new tweets, retweets or any activity in which your company account is hashtagged or referenced.
Social Icons and Share Buttons
Many companies don’t feel it’s necessary for users to see their social activity outside of social media, and they choose to take a more minimalist approach to their widgets.
Instead of integrating a feed on your website, you can simply encourage viewers to promote your brand by placing small icons on your homepage that lead to your various social media pages.
You can also include “Like” or “Share” buttons that list a count of how many people have already followed, liked or shared your content or company page. For companies with an impressive following, this may increase your legitimacy.
What Is the Benefit?
A social media feed gives your site visitors an easy way to stay up-to-date with everything that’s happening within your organization; it can also garner additional fans or followers through signup capabilities built into the widget (i.e. users can sign up through Twitter or Facebook).
However, it is important to take into account the aesthetics of your website when considering the addition of social media feeds. Especially if your feed is large, it can create unnecessary clutter or distraction on your site. Make sure you have the feed there for a reason, not simply because you can.
Feeds can be extremely useful, for example, if you have recently launched a contest or challenge that involves social media (for example, telling fans to tweet their favorite product or to write their ideas for a new slogan on Facebook). This will allow everyone who lands on your site to see the contest activity in real-time, and it may encourage them to join the conversation.
The most important facet of a social media widget is that it adds to your social engagement. If a feed seems too large or unnecessary, consider using the smaller widgets mentioned above to simply encourage users to share or follow your page instead. Every business should, at the very least, offer their viewers a way to connect with them on social media or to share the content that they like.
How Do I Get One?
Almost all website-development platforms offer fairly easy ways to customize widgets.
For social feeds, WordPress, Blogger and others provide add-on code you can use to build your widget seamlessly within the content of your page (here is an example of a customizable social media feed for WordPress).
To integrate “share” buttons, you can visit the social media sites you want users to share on since they will usually offer free code generators—for example, here’s the one for Facebook, and here’s the one for Twitter.
If you’re only looking to integrate a small set of icons that link to your social media pages, you can generate a free code for a social widget here.