Alright, so we established in the previous post the importance of having a website. Your website is your foundation, the place where everything from this point on will branch out to. Before you jump and start linking to everything you are involved in and start flooding your website with links that direct your visitors away from your site, stop and consider this; you just put all that work into building a great website, do you really want to push people away from it now?
Integration is the Key
There is a ton of useful tools available to add to your site to make it more dynamic and user friendly. Your visitors love to have various ways of staying in contact with you. For every site that you dedicate time and effort on you should have something integrated on your site to show what you are doing. This gives you presence and shows that you care about communicating to your visitors even if you are not speaking directly to them. You are including them in your special circles. Yes, it sounds a lot like the irritating clicks from high school, but just remember how irritating it was to be rejected from those clicks and make darn sure you are not making your fans feel the same way.
But this brings us to a very important point when it comes to your online presence. When was the last time you googled yourself? I did this just the other day and discovered several social websites that I had signed up for several years ago and abandoned, completely forgetting about them. Yet there they were, like beacons on the search results page glaring at me like my cat when I’m a little too late on his feeding schedule. Now you can quickly go to those sites and cancel your membership but remember that they will remain on your search results for a period of time until Google runs its next scan of your web involvement. It could be days or it could be weeks. You just never know. But in the meantime, could you take advantage of those sites using them as a sort of business card directing visitors to your website? You don’t want to push people away from your site but you darn well want to direct them to it in any way you possibly can. Take advantage of those little forgotten sites. You don’t have to spend hours on them like you do on your favorite social sites but if you keep them updated on the major changes that happen in your career, they will work for you. Forget about them and leave them looking abandoned like an unkempt front yard and it makes you look careless. Set apart a day each week or even one day a month to check all of these sites and update them as necessary then leave them to do the work for you. All you have to do is create a bookmark file and keep a bookmark of each of these sites and they will be waiting for you making you look even better.
Now back to integrating useful dynamics to your website. When you add what they call “Widgets” to your site you must always keep in mind that these widgets can work for you or they can work against you and destroy all of the hard work you put forth in designing your website. There is nothing worse than going to a website that is so filled with mismatched boxes that they overpower the real content and purpose of the site. You don’t want your website to turn into a portal to all your social media. You want it to be the other way around. You want to use social media to encourage people to learn more about you, and that is the one place you have control of, your website.
Always remember that being subtle can speak louder than shouting at your visitor with blaring advertisements about your other sites. Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular widgets to share on your site. But frankly I hate Facebook widgets. They are ugly and virtually impossible to match your site. Most people like to share the pictures of their followers to show that people like them. But I think it is gaudy and intrusive to the people that care enough to like your Facebook page. They didn’t like your page to become an advertisement for you. Twitter widgets can be great, but what if you have a follower that loves to say things that you don’t necessarily want to have posted on your website? You have very little control over this. Just imagine the damage a disgruntled follower could do to you, It happens and you don’t want to set yourself up to fail.
When adding anything to your site, make sure it is a visual as well as functional asset otherwise forget about it. There is always going to be a point where you are going to have to sacrifice a little, but there are programs out there that allow you to have all of the functionality of giving your visitors a chance to share your information to all of the popular social sites without sacrificing everything. There is a program called “Social Follow” that gives you all of this functionality crammed packed into a tiny little script that you cut and paste onto your site. There are others out there as well, take the time to check them out and you will be amazed how powerful and unintrusive they can be. If you must use large widgets that don’t integrate well into your site, then make a space specifically designed for them. The new Twitter widget works great in your “Contact” section giving your visitors the ability to contact you through Twitter. I would not suggest putting your Facebook timeline on your site. If people want to read your Facebook timeline then let them go to your Facebook page. Don’t be lazy and expect these widgets to give you content. They only take people away from your site.
Before I finish this post, I want to caution you on one more thing. If you have a strong social media presence then make sure that what you post and what you respond to is something that you want to share with your fans. Don’t destroy yourself by mixing your personal life with your business. Don’t involve family conversations or anything of a personal nature that has no business being involved in your professional life. Do not rant and rave and whine about things. For God sakes, keep your personal feelings about politics to yourself. I had a lady follow me just the other day and left me a personal message on Twitter. She immediately insulted me because I had listed the genre of my book as Paranormal Romance Fiction. She was so very kind to point out to me that my inclusion of the word “fiction” was redundant but then continued preaching to me about how the upcoming election is not fiction and how her particular candidate of choice was going to sock it the other. Well after my blood cooled off I corrected my mistake by removing the word “Fiction” in hopes that it would not encourage anyone else to share their political views with me. Chances are, you aren’t going to like what I have to say. I can be sweet as sugar but if you push me enough I will show you how strongly I can emphasize that capital “B” when that itch flares up. The point of the matter is, this is all about you being a professional and selling your product to the world. You don’t want to alienate people because you might share conflicting beliefs in something that has nothing to do with your product. I can’t tell you how much of a turn off it is when celebrities use their fame to push an agenda they have no business being involved in. It destroys careers. Let the politicians do their jobs and keep your personal opinions to yourself. The only exception to that is if politics and even religion are the focus of your work. If that is the case then be man or woman enough to admit it up front and don’t insult people because they may share a different view than you do. When you are confronted with these trolls, do as I did, cool off, unfollow or block them if you have to, and if you do respond, make sure you are responding in a way that makes you the respectable person that everyone can appreciate.