Social Media — Share and Share Alike

If you run a business then you want to speak and appeal to as wide an audience as possible. This is particularly true if you’re also a serial doodlekit. You want to encourage chat more page views and get people talking about you or the services and products you offer: this applies whether you market through conventional channels, use the social media, or utilize a combination of the two. The easiest way to get this message out there has social media sharing buttons. Unfortunately some people are daunted by the prospect of using these: they fear it’s a complicated business and the exclusive preserve of the tech-savvy. The thing is there’s really no need to panic. It’s pretty straightforward as long as you stick to certain ground rules.

If you feel slightly from your safe place, it’s probably best to use a catchall service, like ShareThis or AddToAny. These services will place a streamlined line of similar-looking buttons on your blog or website. The wonder is that there is a restricted amount of code that you’ll need to add and they do use a neat appearance. If there’s a drawback it’s that they don’t have quite the same separate impact of a separate Facebook or twitter button. In a way, I guess it’s a trade off: if all you have to is a functional set of buttons that are easily installed and have reasonable analytic functions then this is the option for you. If you’re looking for something more, then it isn’t.

The next option is what you might call a pick and mix service. If you choose this option, all you’ll download will be the share buttons for applications that are relevant to your business. There’s no point downloading buttons that will not be taken, is there? Besides, these only clutter in the page unnecessarily. Particular application buttons will plan for specific audiences, but generally Facebook and Twitter are very effective for pretty much different types of content. LinkedIn’s perfect for a professional appeal and Stumbleupon is best for casual and social audiences. At the end of the day, it’s all a matter of horses for courses: use what is most effective for you and your business.

Finally you need to decide where to put the buttons. They’ll need to be visible enough to stand out, but that doesn’t mean they have to be large. There may be a opinion that big is best, but this is not necessarily the case for social media buttons. Sometimes big is brash and a bit on the ‘blingy’ side. Make them large enough to see, but try to keep them very discreet if possible so they really don’t take away and distract from the message you’re trying to send out. Where you actually put the buttons is also a matter of debate. Some would suggest putting them higher in the page so that users can see them immediately. Others suggest, particularly for pages that is included in long blogs or articles, that the icons should sit at the foot of the page. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this one, I’m afraid: it depends one your specific website and your needs. Irrespective you eventually site the buttons, the biggest thing to remember is that they must be obvious. No-one wants to have to go clicking unnecessarily or scrolling down a webpage for them. If they’re difficult to locate, then you’ll probably lose the web browser and a potential review.

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