As search results give more weight to social factors it’s more important than ever to make your content easy to share on the internet. A recent study by ShareThis in cooperation with Starcom MediaVest Group and Rubinson Partners shows 31% of website referrals are from the “sharing” of your content. The study also shows that people are more likely to share something to a specific social media site based on the type of content it is.
What Are Your Options?
The Google +1 button essentially socializes your search results and keeps tabs of your personal +1′s on your Google profile. If you needed proof of social signals affecting search results this is it. A link in your search engine results will get a little boost if someone you know +1′d that link or if a large part of the general population +1′d that link.
This button is still pretty new but you will certainly see it often. This is Google’s direct answer to the Facebook Like button so expect to see the two together.
Facebook has changed the way you share content a few times however the Facebook Like button is their most recent toy. It makes use of the open graph to identify and connect your liked content to Facebook pages, activities, music, movies, etc.
From the AOL/Nielsen Content Sharing study, we know people prefer to share content with friends and family. That makes Facebook an important place to make your content easily shareable on. Make sure to make use of the open graph to fine tune how your content is shared and to claim your stake in the open graph.
Twitter didn’t always have it’s own retweet button. In the beginning there was TweetMeme. A few tried to copy what Tweetmeme had created however only BackType and Topsy succeeded where others failed. Finally Twitter released it’s own button that gives you the option of choosing a Twitter profile to recommend after a user shares your content. Each retweet button has it’s perks but make sure you display one on your site.
The LinkedIn button is still fairly new but a great way to easily enable readers to share your content with their relevant networks on LinkedIn. This button will probably perform best with business, marketing and assorted internet related sites.
That AOL/Nielsen Content Sharing study mentioned earlier stated 66% of the population use email as primary method of sharing. Offer an easy way to share your content via email because people seem to like doing that. I’m not fully convinced you need to display a button or link to encourage sharing over email because people are probably already used to just copying and pasting into email. However it never hurts to make things easier.
Social Bookmarking sites
I personally get waves of traffic from Stumbleupon and Reddit and some steady traffic from Delicious. Look at your analytics to figure out which sites your content is getting shared on and only display social bookmarking buttons that are performing well.
Some sites to consider are:
So Which Buttons Should I Use?
Most sites seem to stick to Facebook and Twitter because the share counts are traditionally higher because of the nature of the services. You might also want to experiment with LinkedIn and the Google +1 button as they increase in popularity.
I suggest only using buttons that display share counts. Displaying buttons with higher share counts creates a form of social proof that might encourage other readers to share your content. Also, displaying too many buttons can slow down your site which can in turn result in readers leaving your site while waiting for the page to load.
Socialize WordPress Plugin
The Socialize plugin for WordPress is a social bookmarking plugin that makes it easy to insert popular social sharing buttons into your content. The plugin is unique in that you can easily select which button to display on a page to page basis as well as rearrange the order of the buttons on that page. The plugin also encourages using actionable buttons recognized by the community as popular methods of sharing content. The plugin includes the new Google +1 button, 4 Twitter buttons, 2 Facebook buttons, a custom Delicious button, the LinkedIn button and a few more widgets and buttons from popular social media sites. Learn more on the WordPress plugin page.