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Don’t Let Social Media Kill Your Site: 4 Tips to Increase Site Speed & Conversions

When sites like Facebook and Twitter go down or see a spike in user activity, brand websites need to be ready. Here are four ways marketers can be prepared for it.

Embedding social media widgets in your brand’s website is a great way to encourage interaction, but there are hidden costs to leveraging social engagement across your brand’s mobile sites and websites. Because widgets are fed by third-party sources you don’t control, any issues with their service can spill over onto your site without warning. The result may be too slow or even block the rendering of your pages. Even just a one-second delay in site response times reduces conversions by up to 7 percent, according to Aberdeen Group. When widespread social media outages cause delays of tens of seconds to your site’s load time, your potential customers might leave your site without taking the steps you want them to.

To protect your site against social widget blunders, it’s imperative that your marketing and IT team are singing the same tune. Marketers want engagement and high conversion rates, while IT wants a high-functioning website that meets technical specifications. These goals don’t always align.

But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. By following several best practices, marketers can add social bells and whistles to their websites without affecting site performance.

Here are four ways marketers can make sure they’re on the same page with IT, improving the social widget and website experience.

1. Decide Which Social Tools to Use. Are your customers actually interacting on Instagram or Pinterest? Most likely, they favor one platform over the other. Eliminate social widgets that don’t meet your audience’s needs.

2. Consolidate All Those Social Tools. If you need a lot of social widget options for your audience, consider using solutions like Shareaholic and AddThis, which provide a starting ground for minimizing the disruption caused by integrating with multiple third-party sites. No, these tools aren’t immune to performance problems, but they can help avoid a worst-case scenario.

3.  Craft Smart Coding Guidelines. Social plug-ins are often unreliable, so make sure that they load asynchronously meaning they load independently of all the other elements on your page. This is also an imperfect solution, but it’s headed in the right direction. There are plenty of resources on the Web that can walk you through how to find out if your widgets load synchronously, and how to convert them to asynchronous loading.

4. Implement Application Sequencing. Your best bet is to optimize your brand’s site by using application sequencing. This process uses contextual information about a site’s visitors such as device type, connection speed and location to determine the order and timing of displaying page elements. This type of control requires no additional page coding; it looks for a page’s existing scripts on the front and follows a set of rules to determine which elements to load and in what order to load them.

Some questions for readers to consider:

  • What has been your brand’s experience with social widgets on your website? Good? bad? ugly?
  • How often do your IT and marketing departments communicate? How might you find ways to increase collaboration and ensure your social widgets are optimized?

Please respond in the comments section below.

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