5 Ways Social Media is Driving Flow and Layout

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The influence of social media on web habits is undeniable, and trade publication websites are learning how to raise their online profiles and develop their brands by integrating better with social media..

The web is more encouraging of social sharing than ever, and websites are responding positively to these changes.
The web is more encouraging of social sharing than ever, and websites are responding positively to these changes.

Social media has not, however, negated the critical underlying principle of providing high quality content, because even with the best social media strategy in the world, a website without useful, engaging content won’t experience much success. Good content should have the following characteristics in order to benefit most from social media:

  • Authenticity

  • Personalization

  • Inclusiveness

  • Transparency

  • Engagement with readers

  • Educational and informative value

Social media, in turn, influences many flow and layout decisions in today’s trade publication web designs. Here are 5 ways social media is influencing websites today.

1. By Prompting New Decisions About Social Media Sharing Buttons

Putting social media sharing buttons on websites today is a given, but now website owners are making decisions about the sharing buttons themselves. For example, many sites start out with plain vanilla social media sharing buttons, and once their site has gained traction and draws healthy traffic they “graduate” to social sharing buttons that include counters showing the number of Likes, Retweets, and Google +1s posts and pages have received.

Sites are also making decisions about which social sharing buttons to use. Including every possible social sharing button can overwhelm users, and some sharing buttons go better with particular types of sites. Additionally, sites are designing custom social media sharing buttons that better harmonize with their site’s designs.

2. Through Emerging Search Paradigms

Search is not yet a premier Facebook purpose, but Facebook does have a team of top engineers and developers (including some that used to work for Google) who are working on developing search capabilities for the site. Since Facebook has such a tremendous opportunity to improve its search capabilities, businesses who use Facebook should see increasing opportunities for growth as Facebook search matures.

3. By Annotating Some Search Results

Both Bing and Google use information extracted from social media to annotate some search engine results. These annotations may include a thumbnail photo, or information on whether someone connected to the searcher has shared, Liked, or +1’d a page. These annotations draw reader attention, and anecdotal data indicates improved clickthrough rates on search results that include social media information. This gives trade publication websites greater incentive to carefully cultivate their social media presence.

Searchers are drawn to search results that their social media contacts have liked.
Searchers are drawn to search results that their social media contacts have liked.

4. By Influencing Link Sharing

When it comes to the ranking factors the major search engines use in their search algorithms, links still mean more than social shares. The good news is that much social media activity revolves around sharing links. The bad news is that many social media sites use a “no follow” attribute with links shared by users. They do this to combat spam, but it means you don’t get SEO “juice” from these shares. However, social shares still generate indirect SEO value when users discover content through the “no follow” links and find their way to other links (like those in blogs) that have direct SEO value.

5. By Highlighting Authors

Google has been highlighting author information in some search results by adding thumbnail photos and Google+ information. Connecting authors’ Google+ profiles to sites authors write for works toward what Google calls AuthorRank. AuthorRank is envisioned as a way that trusted content authors will eventually boost search visibility for sites they write for. The tie-in with Google+ shows that Google is interested in tying social media to search results through the influence of writers who are part of the Google+ social network. It’s still a relatively new addition to Google Search, but worth watching.

Social media has a strong influence on web user experience, and trade publications are enhancing their sites to make the most of their social media connections. By integrating sites with social media, trade publication sites improve site visibility and develop their brands more effectively, with the ultimate goal of improving site revenues. If you are interested in capturing more social media interest and making your site “stickier” and more financially lucrative, we invite you to check out what RealMatch is doing with recruitment advertising solutions for media companies and digital publishers.

Photo Credits: vlado / freedigitalphotos.net, Ambro / freedigitalphotos.net

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