Today, social media channels have taken content sharing to a whole new level. Even a user with a database of a few hundred followers can be a valuable asset to your business when they share your content and let’s be honest; most of us have more than a few hundred followers.
Adding social media buttons to your website is a simple, free way to drive traffic to your blog, website and increase your visibility. They can be personalized, tracked and are a great way for your readers to share your content without ever leaving your site.
These buttons can be incorporated into your website design to allow visitors to follow your business on social media networks. They can also be tacked on to a specific piece of content so that it can be shared on your readers own social network pages.
For every social media network there is a button linked to the site (at least there should be) which means there are lots of social media buttons out there and it’s probably safe to say you did not need to include all of them on your website or blog.
The first step is to decide what networks to include. This might sound overwhelming, especially when you start browsing through all the icons that are available.
A good place to start is with your buyer personas, what social networks are they active on? Are they on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn or maybe Google+? If your content contains a lot of images you should also include buttons for Instagram and Pinterest. If you post a lot of videos consider Vine or YouTube.
If you haven’t already, conduct some research to find out what networks your current customers and personas are active on and don’t be afraid to test out a button that you think might be popular. Social media buttons can be easily removed and replaced, so if one of your networks isn’t serving its purpose there is no long-term commitment.
There are lots of different styles of social media buttons so you can guarantee there is one out there that best fits the design of your site. For example, if your blog is entirely black and white then your social buttons should probably continue on this theme. Maybe you want to include a share count attached to each share button so that your readers can be reassured of your credibility by how popular you are with others. If you’re unsure about how your readers will respond to your social media buttons then you may not want to incorporate them immediately on your site.
One of my favorite customization aspects is the “show faces” option on the Facebook like button, which not only tells how many fans you have, but it lists your common friends first and displays the friend’s profile picture icons below it. For example, after the standard thumbs up, like icon it says, “Tara Smith, John Wells & 672 others like this” followed on the next line by Tara and John’s profile picture icons. Not only is it interesting to see people I know that are reading the same thing, but it also increases the credibility of the page or post for me. It makes me think, if my friends “like it” it must be good and it also increases the likelihood I will like or share the content.
While some social media buttons are more advanced than others, almost all of them have options for personalization. Twitter and Facebook, for example, allow you to automatically generate the message that will show up when someone likes your blog post. This is especially nice because it gives you some control over how your content is being shared.
Pinterest, on the other hand, is limited in that it only works for sharing on pages with images. The code of the share button ignores the background image and reads only image tags (<img>) that are at least 80 x 80 pixels. Consider this and don’t bother including it as an option for a blog post that contains only text.
Test Your Buttons
You’ve done your research, you know what networks your followers like, you’ve added some custom buttons to your page and maybe you’re already starting to see some success - and if you haven't done this check out 6 media applications you can use to optimize your platforms.
But before you consider it a job well done, it’s time to test your social media buttons to make sure you are using them to their fullest potential.
- Try using Google Analytics to determine what is generating the most traffic.
- Set up A/B test to figure out if the buttons are better received at the beginning of your blog post or at the end.
- Monitor the number of likes and shares each button gets.
- Social media buttons require more bandwidth to load so if they don’t seem to be effective get rid of them.
Always remember that social media comes in trends, so testing your buttons is something that you should always be doing to ensure they are still working for you.