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Social Share Buttons:
What they are Where to get them How to use them

Social Share Buttons expand your reach to the social media contacts of viewers who click on them.

While you may already have buttons on your website that link to your company's social media sites, social share buttons offer a different way to reach prospects one that adds a form of "endorsement." When visitors to your website click one of these buttons, they are, in effect, recommending the page to their friends and colleagues.

Most email services have an option to include share buttons when you send out an email blast. There are plugins that add share buttons to the various blog platforms. Now you can add social share buttons to your web pages, as well!

Each social media platform comes with its own script to add its button to your web page. This functionality, which compiles with your page code, may slow down your page load. Google's +1 offers an "asynchronous" load script option that can help, at least when loading its scripts. Some platforms may also require the addition of meta tags to the <head>section of your web page code. Ask us if you need additional help sorting this out.

Here are some of the most widely used share button options. (With the exception of Google's +1 the user must be logged in to their applicable social media account in order for the "share" to function.)

Google +1

The Google +1 button is not to be confused with the Google+ social media platform, although viewers who click on the button are also offered the option to share with their Google+ circles. Clicking on this button "recommends" the page to Google, and the number of +1's your page has received is shown next to its listing in Google search results. Recommendations may increase the number of click-throughs to your website! In addition, clicks to Google's +1 button may help improve your search rank, so if you add no other button, you should add this one.

The Google +1 button can be configured with no count:

a bubble with the number of clicks to date:

or an expanded count version:

The button is available in a variety of sizes. If you select the count bubble, it can be to the right or on top of the button.

Get the code.

Facebook

Facebook offers several share options. The most common one you'll see is the button that allows the viewer to "Like" the web page and share with his or her friends on Facebook. You can also set this button up to "recommend" the web page (same button with different text). It can be configured with a bubble count (to the right or on top for a vertical display) or an expanded format. It can include a "send" function that can be configured to also show the "faces" of people who have clicked on the button. Here's the expanded version with the "Like" text:

Here's the button count version, set up with "recommend" as the text in the box:

And, for comparison, here's the vertical layout with "like" (select "box_count" in the code):

Get the code.

Twitter

Twitter offers the opportunity to "tweet" about the web page to the viewer's followers on Twitter. Clicking on the button will tweet the page's title, but you can configure it to tweet different text, even add a #hashtag. As with the other buttons, there are versions that show no count or the click count in a bubble (to the right or on top). This basic button will tweet the title of this page and a link to it:

This button although it looks identical to the viewer shares a tweet with specific text ("How to set up and use social share buttons on your website pages") adds the #share hashtag, references my Twitter account specifically (via @wvpmc) and adds the page link:

While not technically a share button, it's useful to know that there is also a different button you can use that allows visitors to follow your twitter account. 

Get the code.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn offers the opportunity to share the web page as a status update to the viewer's contacts. It can be configured with or without a counter.

Get the code.

Usability Caveats

There are buttons you can add to your site to share content on a vast number of other social media channels. And there are services that provide combined code to display buttons for a multitude of different sites. Choose the share buttons that are most likely to appeal to your audience, and be sure to use a layout that keeps your site from becoming too cluttered.

If you already use icons on the web page that link to your own (or your company's) social media sites, it's a good idea to include some explanatory text to tell your viewer which images link to your company sites and which ones will share the current page link with their friends and colleagues. This avoids confusion and makes it easier for your visitors to figure out what action you want them to take and how to do it.

And be sure to add social share buttons to key pages inside your site, not just to the home page!


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