I would like to preface this piece by saying that I’m not old, merely 27, but there are at least a few times this year where I have to admit I’m absolutely flabbergasted at things that are apparently a big deal that I’m not aware of. Earlier this year, there was a bit of an upheaval in that crossroad between technology and music when it was announced that the Chinese company Bytedance that owns TikTok and bought the Musical.ly last year was valued at a cool US$75 billion and believe me when I say that those three names are apparently a big deal.
TikTok and Musical.ly, which has since merged, is the kind of thing that defies easy description. The best way I could describe the experience of using TikTok is that it’s a literal candy rush, offering users a constant stream of bite-sized videos with a simple interface that is designed to keep their users inside that platform. As soon as one clip finishes, another one plays automatically. This thing with TikTok might seem a bit of a non-issue but it has some potential ramifications on the world of web development that I’d like to focus on.
The fragmentation of the internet
Ask yourself this, in the last week, how much time did you actually spend on a web browser compared to the time you spent on any social media platform, including YouTube? It used to be that the answer would depend on the age demographic you belong in but even the elderly spend so much time on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube that I’m not so sure that the usual rules still apply anymore.
This brings me to the state of the internet in 2018, where in one corner you have the web browser, the old guard that’s been around for two decades while in the other corner we have the world of social media, which has only existed for the a little bit more than a decade but has continually clocked in more hours and users in the past few years. TikTok is simply another pretender to the throne.
The question now is, does it still make sense to use website as the primary focus in developing your business when it’s clear that social media platforms still haven’t stopped increasing their influence? At the moment, the answer is a resounding yes. Facebook, Instagram and other platforms has limitations and restrictions in their platform that you won’t have to deal with had you own your own website.
Generally, it is still advisable for you to have both a website and a social media presence and the goal is to ensure consistency across these two channels. It can be slightly overwhelming but there is actually a way you can take advantage of this by integrating your social media activities in your actual website, using contents you’ve uploaded or posted in your channels as contents for your website.
Include an Instagram gallery
If your business heavily relies on high-quality full-sized images for your website, such as when you work in tourism or creative design for example, having your own image gallery in your website is a must but if that isn’t a necessity, consider including an Instagram feed in your website. The downside is that your Instagram feed must solely consist of images that wouldn’t be out of place on a website and memes don’t usually fit that description.
I’ve seen brands going around this by creating an Instagram account that is used solely to curate images that is fit for their website but this would mean more work as well. Generally, this approach works best with fashion products and wearables, using this Instagram feed for photos of your products being worn out on the field but for professional services company, this feed can also be used to give potential customers an inside look on the people behind the business, adding a human touch to an otherwise staid website.
Add a Twitter feed
The alternative if you don’t think you need an image gallery, a Twitter feed could be used to add some life to your website. Unlike with Instagram, you don’t have to curate your Twitter feed as excessively. Corny jokes are fair game although hot takes and controversial statements should always be used with discretion. When including this Twitter feed and the Instagram gallery, you always need to make sure that your social media account is constantly updated. It’s not very encouraging if customers saw that your last tweet was from last year.
Add social media logins
For businesses that operate a regular blog, it’s a safe bet that you should also include a comment section for feedback and to increase user engagement. To make it easier for users to provide feedback, include social media login as an option instead of forcing them to register to your website first. Using a Facebook comment plugin is one option but given everything that’s happened in 2018, that might not be such an attractive option anymore. Consider using Disqus as an alternative, which allows users to use either their Google or Twitter credentials in addition to Facebook to login.
Always keep in mind however that Facebook comment plugin and Disqus has their own interface, which might not fit well with your site’s aesthetics. If you’re using WordPress, there are a number of comment plugins you could use that include the capability for social media logins to consider. If there’s one that could reasonably fit the look of your website, don’t hesitate to use it.
Add social media buttons
Social media buttons serve two main functions; they make it easier for visitors to follow your social media channels without having to look you up and if you run a blog, share buttons could be used to amplify your brand’s voice across social media, raising the opportunity for you piece to go viral. For the most part, I hate the share button as a lot of the people I know abused that function to forward me random articles I found to be boring but earlier this year, a friend forwarded me the story of Casey the Crocodile, which I found to be as hilarious as it is grotesque.