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I was just wondering if there is any research done into the ideal position to place social links (such as the links to the company's Facebook,twitter and Linkedin page).

I have seen them placed in both the header and footer but I am not sure about what would be the best place for them

Case 1: Placing in the header

Advantages

  • High Visibility
  • Greater conversion

Disadvantages

  • Can cause the header to look very crowded if the header has additional content such as chat and phone numbers and sign in details

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Case 2 : Placing in the footer

Advantages

  • Can be distinctly highlighted and ties in with the rest of the footer information such as company information or privacy policy

Disadvantages

  • Might be missed since its right at the bottom of the page
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5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Usability and getting involved in social media isn't just about 'where to place links'. You need to understand the following:

1. what users want when they come to your site

2. attributes of successful social organisations

Users aren't likely to visit your social media pages because it doesn't tie in with any of the tasks they want to complete at your web page. Placement of these links is irrelevant as a very small percentage of users will have these links as their end-goal, and even if they do visit your Facebook page or LinkedIn profile they aren't likely to take any actions that benefit the organisation.

A more important consideration is how to engage users in being social regarding your site and organisation. The success of social features comes from consumers and users distrusting corporations, but trusting each other and engaging in conversation.

The idea is that if a friend is promoting or sharing or re-tweeting a particular organisation, you're more likely to trust that organisation and become a consumer of their goods or services.

A great way to encourage this kind of conversation is to provide valuable content to users and provide 'share', 'like' or 'email' functionality both at the top and bottom of the respective content - not in the header or footer. Users want to express themselves and share value with their friends and family.

Valuable content is both the content users come to your site to find (about your organisation, pricing structure, services etc.) and also content that they discover on your site that is valuable to them. You can create this content by analysing the demographic that visits your site, and providing interesting and relevant information to that demographic through blog or news articles.

You could also showcase valuable content from your twitter feed (ensure it is valuable for your demographic and consumers, not just marketing for your organisation) in a mini feed on your site. This lets users see whether or not the content is valuable to them - and if it is they are more like to follow you on twitter & re-tweet or share your tweets (i.e. engage in conversation with their network).

Implementing these features are more likely to give your organisation value and benefits than links to your Facebook or twitter profile.

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It is better not to select from formal "top"/"bottom" placement, but to use interaction scenarios of new visitors (they bring most traffic and casually behave in more predictable way). So the best way is to place such social links at the end-points of user's interactions, where user's motivation and impression of website are high and next step is not clear.

These can be:

  • "You are registered" page after sign in process — clicking «like» button can be a fittable choice for user.
  • Last frame of tour (or simply under it, if it is slide show or video tour)
  • Right under list of advantages or features of site/company/software/etc.
  • «Thank you page»
  • Any freebies pages giving an gift to user (for instance, more space at cloud hosting etc.)

So it's better to find such points in every particular and place social links there.

P.S. From formal point of view, placing social links is better at top, because it this place has extra visibility. But it is important not to forget about any lateral cases of such placement — extra visibility can mean that there is nothing more vital to tell on page, than asking to "like" it.

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1  
Yes, those are all very good locations that fit with the user's flow. For my purposes, I'm putting the social buttons at the end of lessons after the user completes them. –  adjwilli Dec 10 '13 at 19:32

AddThis has some advice on placement of their buttons.

To summarise, they suggest at the top of the page for a news type page, after an individual blog post, sharing just that post, but they say that

Placing sharing buttons at the bottom of pages is generally not recommended

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Thanks for your answer, although can you summarize the content of this article? As this post on meta stackoverflow discusses "you haven't answered their question, you've deferred the answering to somewhere else.". If that link were to be taken down, we would lose all context. If you can summarize the article and provide the link as the citation source then you'll be providing a useful answer to the question. –  JonW Aug 20 '12 at 15:25

The first question to ask yourself is, why are placing the social icons?. Yes, the obvious answer would be to increase page views. So, i suggest you to place social icons where readers eye follow most part of your website (It need not be header and footer).

mashable.com has an wonderful article on the same please read point 3.

Also, socialfollow has some basic researched article on placing the social buttons.

hope this helps a little. :)

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As I mentioned in a comment against @DaveP are you able to summarize those links? Posting links isn't really a useful answer, it's just a set of links elsewhere. (Particularly saying 'go here and read point 3' isn't that useful an answer, so can you actually provide what point 3 is and link to it as a source?) –  JonW Aug 20 '12 at 15:49

Generally the way I have seen things like this is for the Social Networking Links to be on the Menu. However that said even just below the header may also be suitable as your Login and User account features are naturally known to be at the top right. So having Social Media links here would probably be a bad idea.

Moving them to just below the header but before your content on their on 'Strip' I think might help,

I'm not strong in UI Design but its my two cents.

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