Once you are done coming up with interesting blog topics to fill your editorial calendar and selecting a cool design for your page, it is time to choose the right sharing buttons. Since there are literally hundreds of popular social media networks to choose from, one needs to decide which of those to include in their social media buttons set.
Naturally, you would like to optimize your blog in such a way that as many people as possible share your content. However, when it comes to sharing and catering your content to potential readers, you need to pay attention to their favorite social networks by choosing the right social media buttons, and not clutter your page with too many choices.
Pushing the Right Buttons
In order to select the right social networks, you will want to pay close attention to your target audience. First, be sure to check out where your readers are already sharing your content. This is mostly done via Shareaholic’s website profiles. Once this research is finished, use your Google Analytics to determine exactly which sites are sending you the most referral traffic and which of them are generating most page-views. This can be done by clicking on the Traffic Sources drop down menu. Bear in mind, though, that the most popular social networks may not overlap with the list of sites preferred by your target readers.
Profiling the Social Networks
Twitter – Twitter is gradually becoming the social network number one. With more than 500 million Tweets per day, this button is a must-have, especially if you have the time to participate in the conversations yourself, Twitter button will do miracles to your traffic.
Facebook – 1.44 billion active users make Facebook the most widely-used social network that offers much more than just one way of sharing your content. We are, of course, talking about the holy trinity of “like”, “share” and “send” Facebook buttons. Like and share buttons show your readers who else from their network is reading and recommending your content, while it also enables them to post it to their own Facebook profile. The Facebook send button enables your readers to send the article directly to their Facebook friends, or even to a particular group of friends. If you are to choose between either one, the like button is probably the way to go as it covers the widest audience.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a professional social network with over 350 million users. The network features a newsfeed on the main page (similar to Facebook’s wall) that shows the content all the users share. Since the number of LinkedIn user has tripled over the past 2 years, the most-shared job related content is curated on this site. So, if you happen to run a Business-to-business (B2B) blog, the LinkedIn button is definitely the one to include.
Pinterest – Pinterest is a photo story-boarding social network, but even though it is kind of a new kid on the block, its button has already become a must-have, especially if you run a photo-heavy lifestyle blog. The network is based on users collecting photos by pinning them into (onto) their online collages called boards. It is particularly popular among readers who consume fashion, weddings, recipes, interior design, makeup, or any other lifestyle blogs. The Pinterest button is definitely in this summer.
Google+ – Though this social network is still struggling with bigshots like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, Google+ share button should certainly find the place on your page, especially as Google integrates its shares into search results.
Adding the Buttons in WordPress
Considering the popularity of these networks, you may be tempted to include them all on your pages. However, this is not always good idea since too many options can have a negative effect on shares. For one, too many buttons may be distracting, especially if they are not intuitive enough for your visitors. Therefore, in addition to deciding which networks to include, you also must consider the following aspects.
– Custom design or traditional logos?
Many website owners decide to design their own sharing buttons to better match their page templates. Yet, if you get too creative with this, chances are some of your visitors may not even understand why buttons are here. This is why in many cases it is better to opt for a traditional design and a commonly used widget that people are already familiar with.
– Finding WordPress plugins that work
WordPress plugins are the easiest solution to customize virtually anything on your website, including social sharing. Currently the most popular plugin for this purpose is Simple Social Buttons, with over 100,000 active installs and an average rating of 3.7. These buttons comes with traditional social logos that your visitors will easily recognize. Furthermore, they are easy to set up and can be customized to appear either above or below the post, which gives you plenty of opportunities to experiment. Monarch and Social Warfare, on the other hand, bring flat design that excellently matches similarly designed pages and are intuitive enough despite the fact they don’t feature traditional logos.
– Determining the position
Another important thing about social sharing buttons is that they need to be conspicuous enough so that the visitors can see them easily. This means that you have to determine whether you’ll place them horizontally above and below the post itself, or add a small vertical menu in the white space. This menu can be set to move as the visitor scrolls the page and thus let him or her share the content at any point. However, this too can be distracting for many people, which is why the best option is to test what works for your content in particular.
– Test how different buttons perform
Although some website owners report significant increase in shares after redesigning their buttons, this doesn’t mean the same design or position would work for your content too. Therefore, be ready to install different plugins and test different designs in order to understand the possible effects they can bring.
Much like different other aspects of your website design, social sharing buttons need to be designed in a way that invites users to complete a specific action. In fact, social sharing is a call to action that has to be present on your website if you want to reach more social media users. Therefore, it is always a good step to analyze your target audiences’ behavior and first decide on the social networks your content is most likely to be shared on. Coupled with experimentation and testing, this can be a magic formula to boosting your social presence. After all, it is all about pushing the right buttons.