Read an Excerpt
Social Media Design For Dummies
By Janine Warner, David LaFontaine
John Wiley & SonsCopyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
All rights reserved.
Creating a Consistent Design for All Your Social Sites
Choosing the Best Social Media Sites 9
Spreading the Love with Social
Media Share Buttons 17
Using Social Bookmarking Sites 21
Gathering Ideas for Your Social
Media Designs 22
In This Chapter
There are many social media sites to join — you don't have to choose just one!
Expand your social media presence with Share, Like, and Follow buttons.
You can consider joining social book-marking sites, too.
Be sure to research effective social media designs.
Social networking — the art of meeting and building contacts through social media websites — has become the most popular activity on the Internet. As we live more of our lives online, social networks have become a powerful way to build connections, attract new clients, find discounts, or get a new job.
On the most popular social media sites, you can create personal profiles as well as professional pages, which are an increasingly important way to drive traffic to your website and promote your business, brand, or organization.
As social media has evolved, it's no longer enough to simply have a presence on each social site. Similar to the evolution of web design, social media design has become increasingly complex, and visitors to social media sites are becoming more discerning.
Today, how you present yourself, your brand, your business, or an organization on your social media is a key part of any marketing strategy, job hunt, or quest for new friends.
This chapter is about helping you stand out from the crowd by creating a great social media design. Figure 1-1 shows an interesting Facebook design.
If you're looking for advice on how to use the top social media platforms, consult Facebook All-in-One For Dummies by Melanie Nelson and Daniel Herndon, Twitter For Dummies by Laura Fitton, and Pinterest For Dummies by Kelby Carr.
Choosing the Best Social Media Sites
With so many social media sites to choose from, how do you decide which one(s) is (are) right for you? The following is an overview of the relative strengths and specialties of some of the top social media platforms.
The examples in the sections feature the profiles of our friend Erin Manning because she has created a consistent look across her many social media sites. Erin is a photographer, photography instructor, and fellow Wiley author. She takes her brand very seriously and has crafted an image that she is careful to protect and manage consistently across all of her social media sites, as well as her website, which is shown in Figure 1-2. As you can see in Figures 1-3 through 1-8, she uses similar colors, and even the same photos in many cases, to make it easy to recognize her brand on the many different social media sites she uses.
Facebook wins top place as the largest social networking site on the web, and its broad appeal makes it an excellent place to promote your website. Facebook was originally considered a vanity site and a place for college students, but its professional power has grown with its ever-expanding audience. With more than 1 billion members, Facebook is by far the most important, and most active, of the social media sites to date.
You can create a Facebook Profile, Page, or Group, and there are many options for customizing the designs. Erin's Facebook profile is shown in Figure 1-3.
We talk more about how to set up your Facebook Pages in Chapters 4 and 5.
LinkedIn is the site for professional connections and online business networking. If you're online to develop business contacts with other professionals, especially if you're job hunting or trying to attract new business clients, LinkedIn is a powerful place to promote yourself and your website.
Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is all business.
You get only one small profile image on a LinkedIn profile. Be sure to use the same profile image you use for your other sites for consistent branding.
Erin uses the same profile picture on LinkedIn that she uses on some of her other social sites, as shown in Figure 1-4, and it makes her easily recognizable.
We show you how to create your LinkedIn presence in Chapter 8.
Twitter has evolved into an international force to be reckoned with. A microblogging platform, Twitter makes it easy to connect with people and share brief bursts of information (tweets). Twitter limits you to no more than 140 characters per post, but that brevity seems to be the secret to Twitter's success. Athletes, celebrities, politicians, and all types of so-called experts use Twitter to connect directly with their audiences, one brief message at a time.
It takes a while to get the hang of the terse, abbreviation-heavy Tweetspeak language, which includes the use of special characters, such as the hashtag (#) to indicate a topic (such as #socialmedia in posts about the social media) or the at sign (@) in posts about a person (as in, follow me @janinewarner
People tend to update Twitter more frequently than other services, making it a great place to follow trends, news events, and other information in real time. Like all social networks, Twitter is constantly evolving, so read other people's posts for a while to get the hang of it before you start to participate. Follow a few friends or experts to see how they use the service.
Twitter offers two areas where you can control the design of your site: the background and the main cover image, located at the top center of a profile. In Erin's case, she chose a simple illustration as the background, as shown in Figure 1-5, and uses the same photograph for her Twitter cover image that she uses in her Facebook design, which again makes her easily recognizable across her various profiles.
Turn to Chapter 6 to find out how to set up your Twitter profile.
The newest entry in the social media scene is Google's competitor to Facebook, known as Google+. Launched in the summer of 2011, Google+ quickly turned into a must-have for every self-respecting web geek because membership was initially limited only to people who were invited.
The principal difference between Google+ and other social networking sites (such as Facebook) is that Google+ starts out by encouraging you to put your friends into circles, which provides a way to organize the people you know into categories, allowing you to choose what information and updates you share with each group.
Google+, now open to everyone, has become one of the top social media platforms, dwarfing many of its competitors and leveraging the power of the Google brand. In the case of Google, you can include a very large photo at the top of your profile. As you can see in her Google+ profile in Figure 1-6, Erin is making herself easy to recognize by using the same image she uses in her Facebook and Twitter profile designs.
Chapter 9 is where to go to set up Google+.
This highly visual site exploded on the social media scene and became the fastest-growing site in 2012. Especially popular among designers, artists, fashionistas, and other creative people, Pinterest makes it easy to "pin" and share images in collections (boards). In her Pinterest profile, as shown in Figure 1-7, Erin showcases her photo tips as well as her fashion sense.
Even though Pinterest is a platform that thrives on the visual, user profiles are not the focus. Pinterest profile pics are incredibly small compared with the other images on the page, and Pinterest allows users to post only a brief, limited bio.
We show you how to use Pinterest in Chapter 10.
YouTube is a global giant, so people use the name "YouTube" generically to refer to all kinds of videos on the web. Owned by Google, YouTube is not only one of the most popular social media sites, but it's also the world's second-most popular search engine. YouTube has become the default place users around the world turn to when looking for Internet video.
From her television appearances to video tapes of speeches to training videos for companies like lynda.com and creativeLIVE, Erin has plenty of video to showcase on YouTube, but she also uses a few still images from her website to decorate her YouTube channel, as shown in Figure 1-8. Chapter 7 shows you how to use YouTube.
Spreading the Love with Social Media Share Buttons
In addition to creating great designs for your social media profiles and pages, you can also include social media icons and links on your website or blog.
The two distinct ways to link to social media sites are
* Like and Follow links: When you include Like and Follow links on your website (see Figure 1-9), you link to your own profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites, and invite your visitors to connect with you. When visitors follow this kind of link, they are given options specific to each site, such as clicking the Like button on your Facebook page, clicking the Follow button on your Twitter profile, or subscribing to your YouTube channel.
* Share links: In contrast to Like and Follow links, Share links invite your visitors to share what's on your website with their friends and followers. In Figure 1-10, you see what happens when a user clicks the Share button for Facebook on the DigitalFamily.com website. In the Share This Link Facebook window open in Figure 1-10, you can see that the headline and the main image from the article are included and will be added to the post box. Above that information is a field (look for Write something ) where the users can include their own comments as they post a story. When users click the Twitter button, a similar box opens with text for a tweet, which the user can edit before posting.
Which option is best for your website or blog? We recommend using both. Including social media share buttons is one of the best ways to attract new visitors to a website or blog because you empower every visitor to your site to easily share your content with their friends and followers. The type of social media button shown in Figure 1-10 is best included with each individual post or article on your site.
Including Like and Follow buttons is a great way to build your network. These buttons are generally best included on the front page of your site, on the about page, and with your biography or other personal information.
You'll find many services designed to help facilitate the connection between your site and social media sites, but some of the most popular are
* AddThis: (www.addthis.com) Sign up for a free account on the AddThis website (shown in Figure 1-11), and you can easily create social media Share buttons as well as Like and Follow links. More than 14 million websites use this popular service. To add social buttons to your website, you simply copy and paste a little code from their page into yours.
If you use WordPress, look for the AddThis plugin in the Plugin Directory to add social media buttons.
* ShareThis: (www.sharethis.com) Designed to work with a wide variety of website and blogging programs, ShareThis makes it easy to sign up for an account and then add a toolbar with social media sharing buttons to your web pages.
* AddToAny: (www.addtoany.com) Offering a widget that you can add to almost any website or blog, use AddToAny to create an account and then copy and paste code from AddToAny into the code in your website or blog.
Why would you choose one social media sharing site over another when they all so seem so similar? The biggest consideration is aesthetic. Visit all three sites and decide which one you think has the best-looking social media button designs. Look over their specific features and analytics, too. These services change rapidly, so make sure the one you choose supports all of the social media sites you use.
Using Social Bookmarking Sites
In this book, we focus on social media sites that offer greater design opportunities, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but we'd be remiss if we left out social bookmarking sites completely.
Social bookmarking sites rank the popularity of web pages by the number of votes they get. As a result, these sites are excellent resources if you want to keep up with what's popular online. Most enable anyone to vote on a site.
Although these sites have limited options when it comes to designing a profile, sites like Delicious, like Janine's shown in Figure 1-12, do enable you to upload an image and a short biography. You can also typically include your site URL, making these platforms a great way to drive traffic to your content.
A few of the most popular social bookmarking sites and services (with more sure to come) are
* Delicious (https://delicious.com)
* StumbleUpon (www.stumbleupon.com)
* reddit (www.reddit.com)
Although you can submit your own web pages on any of these sites, that practice is generally frowned upon, and you can be banned if you do it too frequently. Your one vote won't make much difference, so it's best just not to do it.
A better method to generate votes is to add a button to your website from each of these services so that visitors can easily vote for you. If you're a blogger, you can add a button each time you post. You can get the buttons (chiclets) for free and add them to your pages by simply inserting a little code you generate on the social networking site.
Gathering Ideas for Your Social Media Designs
One of the best ways to get ideas for designing your social media pages and profiles is to visit the websites of people and businesses you admire. Click the social media links on their sites and study what works and what doesn't in their designs. In particular
* Ask yourself what you like about each design and why you like it.
* Consider the choice of photos and illustrations. Do the pictures make you want to get to know them? Does the background or other illustration add credibility or showcase their talents?
* Pay special attention to how individuals and brands describe themselves. Many social media sites restrict your descriptions to just a few words or a sentence or two. Study how others introduce themselves to get clues about how to sum your own profile text in just a few words.
* Determine whether you can easily find the information you're most interested in and whether you think they did a good job of introducing themselves or promoting their business, brand, or organization.
Sometimes the best way to get ideas for your own profile is to look at someone else's site and then return to yours with a fresh perspective. Social media sites are changing all the time. Keeping an eye on what others are doing is a great way to stay informed about new design options and creative ways to introduce yourself online.
POSTING TO SOCIAL SITES
Creating a great social media design is just the first step. You also need to update your pages and profiles by regularly posting and tweeting. Here are a few ideas:
Share a favorite link or hot news item in your specialty area. Odds are that many people in your networks on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn share your interests.
Share or retweet something someone else has posted. Passing along a great post is the highest compliment you can give in social media, and if you liked what they had to say, chances are that your friends will, too.
Be personable but not too personal. You want to be authentic and relatable, but oversharing is the fastest way to lose followers.
Ask a question related to your latest book, research project, or business venture. While writing this book, we asked our friends and followers to send great social media designs to feature in our book.
Make updating your status at least a weekly habit. Just be careful not to flood your social networks with trivial or mundane posts. If you post more than a few times a day, make sure your followers welcome your status updates and find them helpful, interesting, or at least entertaining. Consider creating an editorial calendar for your social media properties to remind you to post often, but not too much!
Excerpted from Social Media Design For Dummies by Janine Warner, David LaFontaine. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons.
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