Adding Social Buttons to Your Website
Social share buttons are simply everywhere on the web these days. It’s almost more shocking to see a site without them, as over 3 million websites have a Facebook Like Button. This has prompted a ‘button war’ of sorts, with Google soon jailbreaking their new search +1 button into the mix of Twitter, LinkedIn, and a few hundred other networks.
But what do these buttons really mean for your site?
Before simply adding social sharing to your site, you will need to ask yourself why you are looking to link your content to social sites in the first place. Is it about traffic generation? Is it an ad revenue play? Are you co-opting your brand and marketing plan by adding to the social graph of your clients and prospects? What is your overall social media strategy? What are you gaining? What’s your ROI? Are you measuring the right things? How will you engage your site visitors? What’s in it for them (or for your business/brand)?
While my company has addressed some of these topics (and like most banks is riding a cautious development approach to adding social channels), even the biggest brands are still learning how to really leverage social content and their faithful band of followers. I recommend that you read some of Charlene Li or Brian Solis’s books on social communities and keep an open mind. If you are in banking, run, do not walk to pick up Bank 2.0 by Brett King because social matters. The bottom line is that your developers will certainly be adding social buttons at some point in the future (if you don’t already have them plastered all over your site already).
You don’t want to end up with a corporate website that looks like a Nascar driver plastered with hundreds of other people’s brands. Since you are not adding social sharing just to give your site social cache among your users, you have to think about how many buttons/share options you will add. Work on defining your site’s audience, pour over analytics and define different segments. Ask your clients what social sites they visit. Ask them if they would share your content and why. Then build on this knowledge using a well targeted plan (we use Forrester’s POST method), and map out a strategy that works for the type of site/business you have.
The links shared below are really about adding content sharing buttons, not follow buttons (while equally important, they may not be driving as much of the traffic to your site). Follow buttons for certain networks should be used above or below the navigation, or as a central part of your site design itself (consistency of location and how interesting/engaging they are matters). Shared content buttons (the ‘Like’ ‘Share’ ‘Link’ ‘Tweet’ should be tied to the unique page level content on each page of your site (as appropriate). Keep it subtle, and consider using graphic alternatives (great options are available as icon sets on iStockPhoto – get more ideas at mashable.com). While I used to prefer using an AddThis or ShareThis button covering a plethora of social media links, I see the ubiquity of Facebook and Twitter as demanding a separate button each. After these two, consider adding a LinkedIn button for certain type of relationship business sites (the banking industry seems to be undervaluing the connections made through LinkedIn, so by all means a bank or credit union should be leveraging LinkedIn share/follow buttons).
Adding share/follow links doesn’t have to be painful at all.
Developing a social strategy that works behind the button…well, that’s a different story.
If you are starting to add social share buttons to your website or blog, here are some links of interest that will get you started. These lead you to the official development sites for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, and are not meant to be a tutorial (there are plenty of great sites for that) but a launching point for research. You can add social plugins at the by editing your site’s page level HTML or adding social classes to your CSS.
* = links of most interest to getting up and running.
Twitter’s development area can be improved, but they do offer several pages of code options, as well as easy creation of tweet and follow buttons to add to content pages and CSS. Since they reportedly turned down a Google offer rumored at $10B, they might want to learn from Facebook about how to get everyone and their brother’s website to add a Tweet button. This comes from a Twitter FanBoy – watch for updates to their development site – a lot more on its way as they learn how to further monetize their traffic.
Facebook has a pretty amazing development site (which makes sense, given the scope of their 650M+ base of users and the proliferation of Like buttons across the web and what it means to their ad revenue stream). Here are some of more interesting links.
Development Document Home
Like Plugins *
Open Graph References
Facebook Activity Links
Developer’s Showcase *
Additional Samples *
Facebook Videos (How To’s)
While Google has a good amount of content for developers, they have lot to learn from Facebook and other sites on how to display the material (it seems kind of pieced together over time, with less thought about how to market their social content for developers and marketers). It reminds me of their overall spartan design approach to search and app design – kind of like comparing Apple and FlipBoard to Microsoft.
Here are some links.
LinkedIn has really upped it’s game this month, with the addition new OAuth and API options for developers. I am really impressed with how they have started to add share and display capabilities to their development community. Some people question LinkedIn’s business strategy. I’m not one of them – if you and your company do not have a strategy for LinkedIn, you are missing out.
Here are the links.