Oh, the social share button - as common as it is controversial.
There is a substantial ongoing debate in the works as to whether or not they are effective or harmful. On one hand, social share buttons such as Facebook's Like or Twitter's Tweet or Google's +1 or Pinterest's Pin-It, you get it, the list goes on provide an easy way for site visitors to share your content while you reap the SEO and social benefits. Sounds good, right? Well, let's take a look at the other hand - share buttons can also be seen as a distraction making you look desperate, not to mention slowing down page loading times. These buttons can even give readers a bad vibe. For instance, if they see a blog post only has 3 Likes, then maybe it's not worth sharing.
Let's take a look at the 3 most common places you find share buttons and consider the effectiveness in each:
In the B2B world, it really doesn't make much sense to have social share buttons, simply because most static content just isn't inherently social like B2C site content is. Ask yourself this, why would someone tweet a static page? The chances your static content is newsworthy, entertaining or thought-provoking enough to inspire someone to share socially are pretty slim.
Instead of using social share buttons, link to your social network profiles so customers can experience your brand in new ways and build your database for future networking. Or, consider using that prime real estate for a newsletter sign up, call to action, demo or white paper. Your B2B site should be more geared toward converting viewers into customers, compelling them to pick up the phone.
However, Adam Holden-Bache disagrees: When asked if Share This buttons had any impact on their perception of B2B content, 77 percent of B2B buyers said that adding social sharing buttons made the collateral either much more influential or somewhat more influential than collateral that didn't include these buttons. The study (2011 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report by Eccolo Media) shows social sharing, or even the possibility of social sharing, creates perceived value in the content. The proximity of a Share This button within or next to your collateral may carry the implication that the content is worth sharing.
Now here is a place where it makes more sense to have social share buttons. Give your target audience all the brain candy they crave and they will share the bounty. There is definite value in shared content, particularly since those little share buttons are becoming more meaningful for SEO.
Make it uber easy for them to share without leaving your site to do it. Once someone finds your blog, you want them to stay, not twitter away. Include social share buttons at the top and bottom of each page. You want the share to be easy and at their fingertips when they're finished reading. Don't clutter your page with every social share button under the sun. Consider the kinds of sites your audience is most likely to share on and limit yourself to just those. You could highlight the buttons readers are most likely to use and then include a few fringe social buttons that might be of interest as a second tier option.
Now here comes a controversial idea stay away from using social share buttons in your e-newsletters unless it's a specific deal or promotion you want your readers to share. Many have found it really doesn't impact your results.
Nick Stamoulis, president and founder of Brick Marketing, believes there are benefits to removing social share buttons: Removing those social share buttons from the newsletter didn't impact the number of visitors that were coming over to my blog, so I didn't lose any traffic with my change. What I gained was more social signals directly impacting the SEO value of my blog! Since social signals are becoming an increasingly important ranking factor, having all those shares pointing directly to a blog post is a big win.
If you use your blog posts in your newsletters along with other content, readers will share the blog posts directly. Now they don't have to share the whole newsletter, just the bit of information they think their friend will find most interesting and relevant. Keep in mind, social media is meant to engage your readers by establishing connections through similar interests in an effort to build virtual relationships and create brand awareness.
As Oliver Reichenstein cleverly states, If you provide excellent content, social media users will take the time to read and talk about it in their networks. That's what you really want. You don't want a cheap thumbs up, you want your readers to talk about your content with their own voice.
It seems as though, through opinions expressed amongst different social media experts, the bottom line is that social media strategy is not as easy as or as comprehensive as the social media share buttons make it seem. You need to figure out which social signals work best for your business, audience and delivery mechanism. Test and tweak, and continuously provide engaging and original content, keep in touch with relevant social media sites (as they come and go) and establish meaningful human connections with your readers. Now that's the way to a girl's heart.
"Have a Pawsitively Tail Waggin' Good Day!"
P.S. This information was provided by Ruff Haus. Established in 1997, we are a special breed of full-service brand design firm that works with a premier pack of clients. We bring a fresh outlook and tail-wagging enthusiasm to your marketing program.