Brief Rant: Social Media on Websites

This rant has nothing to do with the more organized, interesting search for a startup.

Among the more frustrating realities of designing websites for clients is this statement: “we’d like to have a social presence on our website.” It’s well intentioned, for sure. These people look around at companies with large social presences and imagine their strategy was to pop up a twitter feed and *boom*, like magic the followers came rolling.

In my humble opinion, this doesn’t make sense.

imageRecent Tweets Usually Provide Little Value

Someone came to a client’s site. For the sake of imagination, let’s pretend it was a furniture maker. Billy is looking for furniture. He isn’t *quite* sure what piece he wants, but he’s looking for a small end table to go by his bed, or possibly in the living room if it feels right.


Now your furniture store has a Twitter feed, and pays a social media company $500/month to help manage it. This is a good practice and could very well pay off as an investment.

The store also has an ecommerce site, that they spent $40,000 to create and maintain.

So Billy is looking for a way to purchase some furniture, and comes in via search to the site. As he’s looking through furniture options, he sees something out of the corner of his eye. It’s a social feed of the store’s tweets. One of the tweets is a meme. This store is cool.

He clicks through to the meme, follows them on Twitter, and promptly gets distracted.


Billy starts way away from your sales funnel. And as he’s moving closer to the goal itself, one of the least-important pieces of the funnel (Twitter) distracts his attention. We have become so enamored with social media’s ability to draw a crowd that we’ve completely forgotten it’s place.

Twitter and Facebook belong as the outside of a funnel, pointing people toward the goal. Arguing that these services promote a “relationship” is a load of crap. Does your brand actually have a relationship with your customers? In simpler terms, are people talking back in meaningful ways? Or is your brand looking at social media as a marketing channel along the same lines as TV or web advertising?

Sometimes a social relationship *is* the goal. If that’s the case, please give these services all the attention in the world. They deserve it. But most of the time, social connection isn’t the goal.

Where does Twitter Belong?

Twitter is a marvelous service. I’m so glad they made it through the trough of sorrow. And brands have an incredible opportunity to talk to their customers. But the question is…why? Social media works as a piece of a bigger content marketing strategy.

If your brand can create content that is moving (somebody thought it was funny or sad or cute or inspiring or challenging), then PLEASE use social media like it’s your job. At Garnet Report, it took us forever to get people to follow us. When Randall, our editor who knows everything about the Gamecocks, went out to Omaha to cover USC winning the College World Series, our stories became emotional. Twitter and Facebook blew up.

A furniture store, typically, isn’t able to create moving content on a regular basis. Twitter is going to be distracting and needs to go away. Otherwise it’s like seeing someone looking at a mattress on the showroom floor, and telling them to go look at the fancy new sign the store just got. It just doesn’t make sense.


What are your thoughts. Does social media belong on a company’s web page? What about nonprofits, churches, and other less “goal oriented” organizations?

Why I’m leaving Instagram


That’s how many photos I’ve posted to Instagram since October 16th, 2011.

Back in 2011, Instagram was a bit of a free-for-all of social networking. Doubters said that it was senseless to post pictures of food and believers insisted that the network had value. The first 4 pictures I posted didn’t get a single “like.” Bah. Value indeed.

But after a few pictures, I “got it.” Instagram is about picking out the best moments of your life, and showing them to the world. Then friends double tap their screen to affirm that you are…in fact…really dang fun.

Continue reading “Why I’m leaving Instagram”