Going Social: Tick-Tock Content

Posted by on Aug 31 2011 | Copywriting, Internet Marketing

“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?

An internet user surfing through content is generally looking for three things: visual appeal, relevance and compatibility. Let’s talk about the third point. A simple content page should take 1-2 seconds to load, tops. Add a truckload of social widgets and the load time can stretch up to anywhere between 5 seconds to even minutes, if you don’t have a broadband connection. The functioning behind a social widget works somewhat like this: each social button is connected to hundreds of lines of Javascript, not to mention APIs, which can take their own sweet time to answer.

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.


8 comments for now

8 Responses to “Going Social: Tick-Tock Content”

  1. Sid

    I feel really elated when somebody contradicts a popular feeling based on on some silly and greedy human prerequisites. The article does that and i just want to thank the writer who had such a bizarre, excruciating and yet organized form of critical outlook.

    01 Sep 2011 at 12:21 am

  2. i think thats the reason why minesweeper was invented. i can finish a whole game by the time some pages load. :D

    01 Sep 2011 at 12:29 am

  3. Isha

    True and relevant to the present context i think website owners should ponder on the fact on whether their website ‘type’ really does require all this jazz… i suppose not! Some website are so not a sight for the sore eyes :p

    01 Sep 2011 at 1:41 am

  4. sonam Gairola

    Everything should be done in a limit, but do the present marketing scenario follows the fact or rather care to follow till the time they think they are creating such attractive web pages or ‘going social’ for that matter without realizing (or ignoring) the grey side.

    01 Sep 2011 at 4:44 am

  5. Mikhil

    Reiterating the point of the article: Content should have a hassle-free delivery. One cannot afford to swamp their content pages with a flurry of social features in search of higher revenues. In fact, there’s a good chance of the opposite happening, what with the slower load times and readers being redirected to applications with no banners.

    01 Sep 2011 at 4:50 am

  6. Kritica

    I have had my share of ‘Aw, Snap!’ moments as well.. Until now didn’t know that one of the reasons could be – social widgets flood.

    Interesting read!

    01 Sep 2011 at 5:21 am

  7. Sonam

    Everything should be done in a limit, but do the present marketing scenario follows the fact or rather care to follow till the time they think they are creating such attractive web pages or ‘going social’ for that matter without realizing (or ignoring) the grey side.

    01 Sep 2011 at 5:41 am

  8. Shalini

    all arguments well and over, the question to ask is how much is too much- all nature of subjective, individual strategy impact oriented answers will shoot out from marketers. Maybe crowding is not such a bad idea? or is it?

    01 Sep 2011 at 7:51 am

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