In today’s business world, social media is a crucial tool for promoting your brand. It is the place where your potential customers are, and the place where they can discover your brand and engage with you. It is an extension of your web presence and as such, the major social networks all provide their own content sharing and follow buttons. Today we are going to talk about the nuances between them and when to use them.
Across most social networks, there are three main kinds of social media buttons. They are the follow buttons, sharing buttons, and kudos buttons and each is best suited to different situations. Let’s look at them individually.
The follow button is the bread and butter of growing a fanbase. It lets people keep up to date with your business on their social feeds and also enables you to advertise to them and their friends on Facebook. This button is an endorsement of your brand – that you are putting out good content they want to follow. You can put this button anywhere on your website, but we’d recommend putting it on your About page, Contact page and website footer. You can also consider putting the follow buttons alongside a call to action to stay in touch at the bottom of each blog post.
Sharing buttons are self-explanatory. They allow website visitors to easily share your content with their social media networks without copying/pasting links. It extends your reach beyond your fan base to new people leading them back onto your website. The key principle here is to provide value for people, it could be in the form of something funny, entertaining or insightful. People tend to share content they gotten value from and think that their friends would enjoy as well. As this is the purpose of pretty much all the content you create, that’s where the sharing buttons should go. Landing pages, blog articles, email content, they are all game and primed for sharing. If not, they should be!
Of all the buttons, these have the lowest friction as it is just a passive acknowledgment that they ‘liked’ your content. One could make the argument that it is just a ‘vanity’ number, however, there are several advantages to get people to click on that +1 or favorite button. Along with sharing buttons, these belong alongside the content that provides value to your audience.
How to get social media buttons on your websites
Like many other things on your website, you have two main options to include social media buttons on your website. Each has its own pros and cons, so lets take a look.
Official social media widgets
Every social media network provides their own implementation for brands to put social media buttons on their website. These tend to have the functions. For example, Twitter lets you create buttons that have pre-populated tweets, and you can embed Pins with Pinterest’s. The downside is that you have to go to each social network’s website and figure out how to use each networks’ implementation, and make them look coherent together. If you have the time and inclination or have access to a web developer, it is worth the time to explore this route. Here are the links to the popular social networks.
Third party widgets
Another great option you have is to use third party widgets like SumoMe. The awesome thing is that you can choose from which social media buttons you want to include from just one place. These tend to be convenient and easy to set up as well. However, they tend to look quite pedestrian, probably because of their popularity amongst all the various sites. Some of them are also hosted on another server so it may impact loading time – so it is something you should certainly check.
And finally, a bonus:
If you are so inclined, you can also hook up social sharing buttons yourself – recently Vandelay Design shared a list of 50+ sets of social media icons you can use, free of charge. You can also find CSS options in this list compiled by DesignsCrazed.