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Back to Basics: Social Media buttons in your email

Back to Basics: Social Media buttons in your email

Datareportal reports that there are 4.2 billion social media users around the world at the start of 2021, equating to more than 53% of the total global population. Social media user numbers have surged in the past 12 months too, with 490 million new users joining social mediain the year to January 2021.

The typical user has an account on more than 8 different social media platforms and spends an average of close to 2½ hours using social media each day. So, assuming that people sleep for between 7 and 8 hours per day, these latest figures suggest that people spend roughly 15% of their waking lives using social media!

social channel icons

Social links in email

Social buttons in email have become ubiquitous.  Not to be confused with share buttons or wordmarks, social media icons are shorthand symbols that link to your company profile on different networks. But you knew that, because you probably use social icons in your emails all the time – but when was the last time that you took a moment to think about how these links fit within your email template, design or messaging hierarchy?

Social media is integral to many people’s lives and a place where your customers are likely to engage with your brand – so let’s make it easy for your subscriber list to find your social channels.

 

Where to place social media buttons

In email, social media buttons provide a secondary call-to-action. They are generally part of the periphery of your email and not the main event.

A best practice is to place your social media follow icons either in the header or footer of your email. Savvy readers instinctively scroll to the top or bottom of an email (or a website) to find standard info found in menus, like contacts and social media links. Keeping your follow icons at the opening or close of your email makes it intuitive for readers to locate.

From a design perspective, it makes sense that the icons are consistently placed where they won’t interrupt the flow of content in your body message.

The main focus of your email is to get readers to act, to engage with your primary CTA, like signing up for your upcoming webinar, for example. The key focus isn’t for a reader to follow you on Facebook, so don’t get in the way of your primary CTA with extra CTAs. Keep social follow icons from being a distraction, like the below example for Zapier.

zapier email

However, if promoting your social presence is high on your agenda, you can give them a more prominent role in your email design, whist still not deflecting from the main proposition of your email.

We have spoken in other articles about the “F” in email – where recipients, when reading/scanning an email, follow the pattern of an F with their gaze. With this knowledge you can give your social links a more prominent position in your email – but without them ‘taking over’ or distracting from the key message of the email.

position your social icons

By using the email’s colour palette for example, your social icons can sit neatly within the header of your design without overwhelming or getting lost.

make them stand out

I particularly like the Everyday Food example here, the header is very well-balanced; it’s not cluttered with information and there’s plenty of white space, while the orange colour unifies the social media icons with the main logo. The buttons are well positioned to attract the right amount of attention—they’re very easy to spot but don’t stick out like a sore thumb.

 

Best practices for social inclusion

Size uniformly

Display all social media icons at equal size, height and resolution if possible. Don’t display social media icons larger than your own logo or wordmark. And don’t display any of the network icons larger than another network icon (eg making the Facebook icon larger than the Instagram icon).

Present as a group

Choose a shape, size, colour and customisation that suits your brand and fits with the look of your email and be consistent with all your social icons. For example, if you have sharp edges in your design, put your social icons in square boxes, if your design is more fluid with softer edges opt for circles or dispense with the containers entirely. Whatever you do: maintain balance.

Space evenly

Make sure icons are spaced in a way that meets the “clear space” requirements of each social media company. And be mindful of their “clickability” when on a mobile screen – so ensure that they are ‘finger-friendly’.

Choose three to five

Very often icons are used as call-to-actions and if you use too many, you risk overwhelming visitors with decision fatigue. Not to mention the clutter that too many icons create on business cards or assets with limited space. Determine the top three to five channels that are most important for your brand and audience. A full list can be included in the contact section of a website or in the website footer.

Order by priority

If LinkedIn is a more strategic network for your brand than Instagram, for example, make sure LinkedIn appears first in your icon list. Decide which buttons to include based on the nature of your content and audience. Don’t overload readers with too many options.

Get permission

If you want to customise social media icons to fit with your brand design or a design style that you are adopting for your message – I have seen some very nicely done “sketch” versions of the icons – remember social icons are part of their brand identity and therefore covered in each platform’s brand guidelines – so if you are looking to do something a bit different you should seek the permission of the brand.

sketched social images
sketched social images

With e-shot adding and configuring your social icons is simple which ever design method you choose - but with Smart Editor, because you can save configured sections of emails to reuse over and over (modules) you can save time on each new design. Read more about Smart Editor in our dedicated article.

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