It’s time for your website to plug in and button up

Durham Business Times

Durham Business Times

They’re everywhere–buttons asking you to “Share” this and “Like” that.  The Internet is atwitter with ways to endorse your favourite businesses, posts, products and services.  Half of the world’s top 10,000 websites link to Facebook or Twitter on their homepage.  Does yours?

hy let people push your buttons? Because they’re delivering a call to action. Read this post. Buy this product. Shop here. Trust this company. It’s word-of-mouth marketing on an Internet-wide scale. Instead of reaching out in one-on-one conversations, they’re dispatching their recommendations in a one-click, real-time post to everyone in their social media network, without even leaving your website or blog.

Let’s put that into perspective. Facebook has 750 million active users. The average user is connected to 130 friends and 80 pages, groups and events. Users share 30 billion pieces of content monthly. That’s a lot of word-of-mouth.

Reports and case studies show that these curious and engaged visitors view more pages, stay longer and return more frequently. Referral traffic goes up, say retailers, and so does revenue—markedly. Organizations open up new markets, develop prospects and engage with current customers.

So how do you get “buttoned up”? Social plugins. These free, easy-to-use nuggets of coding can perform a variety of functions, from adding users and sharing links or posts, to importing your blog feed, posting comments and embedding slideshows and YouTube videos. Just generate the code using a straightforward fill-in-the-blanks creation app. It’s a quick, economical task for your webmaster or a do-it-yourself job for the tech-savvy.

Social-media-savvy surfers like pushing buttons. To get them pushing yours, keep these tips in mind.

  • Know your target audience and tailor your buttons accordingly. Facebook and Twitter are social media frontrunners, with Google+ gaining fast, but your fans may congregate at YouTube, LinkedIn or another platform.
  • Keep it clean and simple to encourage interaction. Three buttons or less is optimal. Though all-purpose “share” buttons can “Like,” “Tweet” and “+1” simultaneously, many users prefer the familiar single-platform icons.
  • Locate your buttons prominently at the top of the page. If posts are long, use a “floating” button bar, or add a button to both top and bottom.
  • Use trial and error to work out the best combination of discretion and visibility, simplicity and clever placement.

Who’s plugging in?

There are dozens of platforms and plugins to choose from.

Miss Popularity is Facebook. A hands-down favourite, 11% of websites use Facebook’s “Like” button; 6% use the “Like” box.

Call Twitter Miss Generosity. This rapid-fire platform is all about sharing content. The Tweet button broadcasts a quick “check this out!”

Google+ wins the Rising Star Award. Barely two months old, the +1 button already shows up on 5% of websites. No surprise, since Google searches already integrate the +1 count as well as flagging the user’s personal contacts among the list. Google also plans to factor the +1 count into its search engine rankings.

LinkedIn’s brand-new “Apply on LinkedIn” button takes Miss Congeniality. Placing this button on your website allows jobseekers to apply with their LinkedIn profile instead of a resume. It’s a win-win: employers can compare standard-format resumes, while candidates monitor their application process.

Miss Versatility goes to AddThis for its universality and convenience. A free service, it offers and organizes hundreds of plugins—just pick and post. It even provides analytics.






*Sidebar statistics from BrightEdge Social Share Report July 2011 report