“Let’s go social.” Most strategy meetings for marketing campaigns usually start or end with this declaration as a punchline, as if social integration is the latest magic lamp and all marketers are Alladin’s descendants. And it’s hard to argue against it: with the promise of doubled traffic, dynamic innovation and drawing more attention through widgets and social buttons, Socialand is the new Jerusalem for marketing Crusaders. However, in the race to enhance webpages with a bevy of sharing features (Like, Tweet, Digg, +1), could it be possible that we’re focussing on the peripherals more than the basics?
History does repeat itself. Remember those days when Flash animations were the new heights of cool? Website owners everywhere were scrambling to jazz up their pages with Flash content. Over enthusiasm and unending load times later, someone had the good sense to come up with the ‘Skip Intro’ button. Clicking on that button has become a Pavlovian conditioning for netizens by now.
It’s really a case of ‘Too much of good thing is bad.’ Social is cool, I get it. But uber-socialising your websites can lead to social pollution. And don’t think that getting a greater bandwidth is the cure-all: load time for content pages with social features are not dependent on your bandwidth, but on the API-social platform connection. An overload on the social platform’s IT structures means that, bandwidth or not, you can consider making some tea while you wait.
So, even if you haven’t yet experienced the problem of slow load times for yourself, let’s just play devil’s advocate and put ourselves in the shoes of a user who’s surfing through content pages with around 15 more tabs open (multitasking is but organic) and probably doesn’t have a bandwidth to boast of (which won’t help as aforementioned). Odds are, either he is reduced to swatting flies while content gets loaded or he gets to the point of no return and has to end up ‘killing pages’.
Call it overreaction, but social integration, although essential for attracting eyeballs, needs to be judiciously implemented while keeping an eye on both sides of the street. It’s great to have sharing features, widgets and the like on content pages to help spread the word; not so great when you ‘pollute’ the pages with social features to an extent that you drive visitors away and end up relying on third-party reading applications.
Don’t overdo it.