5 Social Sharing Buttons That Help Your Thoughts Go Viral

A few days back, I wrote about the importance of having social sharing turned on your blogs. Not only is it essential – it’s almost a defacto minimum requirement for any blog these days.

Now I know there are blogs which do not have social sharing turned on – the blogs of Leo Babauta and Seth Godin are two huge examples. But hey, if you are Leo or Seth, you don’t need social sharing anyways πŸ™‚

Update: Danny Brown rightly pointed out that Seth has the Twitter and Facebook buttons on his blog. Here’s how they look like on Seth’s blog:

I missed the Twitter button because it does not resemble the usual, default Twitter buttons I am used to seeing. Missing the Facebook button was selective ignorance, I guess. Lesson learned – it pays to be aware of selective ignorance.

Leo’s blog too has sharing options (Delicious and Twitter), but they are not visual as you can see here:

My point about the social sharing buttons is that they need to be visual – and they need to be standard buttons that everyone is used to seeing. Creating different variations might lead your readers from missing out on them – like I did. Also to note – both of them have comments disabled on their blog posts.

And while I am still on the topic, Seth and Leo – you really don’t need social sharing buttons. Both of you are totally awesome – and I continue to look up to you as role models – given your insights, knowledge and wisdom πŸ™‚

If you’re blogging – and creating posts – I’m assuming you are expecting an audience. And heart-in-heart, you are probably also fantasizing about your posts going viral. While your posts can certainly go viral even without social sharing turned on, you can make the entire process easy for your readers – and have the key buttons ready for them when they need them the most

Here are 5 social sharing buttons that should definitely be present on your blog – home page, post pages and pages:

  1. Twitter
  2. Facebook Like
  3. Facebook Share
  4. Digg
  5. Stumble Upon

A few more that I am willing to throw into the mix – if you have the appetite and real estate are:

  • LinkedIn
  • Delicious
  • Google Buzz

Oh – and I am assuming you are not going to toy around with the RSS subscription link – it needs to be around no matter what!

I’ve had my own journey with social sharing on Social Media Notebook. The first couple of days after this blog went live, the social sharing options were (inadvertently) missing πŸ˜‰

I now have all of these buttons enabled (as you’ve probably seen) – and am using two plugins to do the job for me. Digg Digg writes the Twitter and Facebook like buttons before the content on all pages – and Share and Follow creates the other sharing buttons at the end of every content piece.

There was one more learning experience, thanks to a pointer from Eric Hamm – the creator of Frugal theme. WordPress excerpts strip out HTML code by default – and I had use the Advanced Excerpt plugin to get the Twitter and Facebook buttons to show up on the home page excerpts. Pretty interesting insight.

While the Facebook buttons have been around for a while, Twitter didn’t have an official button of its own. The void was being filled by third-party applications, the most notable amongst them being TweetMeme. To borrow a few words from the Twitter blog post that announced this new button:

The Tweet Button is not only simple for users, but for publishers of all sizes, too. Recreational bloggers to large media companies can quickly and easily add the Tweet Button to their sites. It only takes a few lines of code. The Tweet Button will help publishers grow traffic and increase their Twitter following.

Are you using this button on your blog posts – and pages? You absolutely should be!

Michael Johnston from The Well Run Site had an amazing semi-scientific research done in the value of Facebook buttons in May 2010. The findings of his research appeared on ProBlogger – Are Facebook Like Buttons Wrong or Right For Your Site?

Here’s the summary of what Michael observed:

  • Neutral content for general audiences seems likely to deliver excellent results due to its wide appeal. Humorous content will do even better.
  • Pages covering controversial subjects will probably fare very poorly.
  • Items that interest a narrow demographic won’t be shared widely on Facebook. Tech items, for example, will probably do much better on Twitter.
  • Your user demographics will determine whether Facebook, Twitter or some other form of social bookmarking suits their needs.
  • If you run a site that sells products that are shipped in plain, unmarked boxes, your visitors are expecting a level of discretion from your site that the Like button may perceptibly diminish.

This also brings me to an interesting perspective.

Adding the social sharing buttons is no guarantee that your content will go viral. You still need to create quality content – your thoughts still need to resonate with your audience. But the social sharing buttons need to be around when your readers need them the most. Not having them greatly diminishes the possibility of your thoughts going viral.

I am going to throw open the discussion with a few questions:

  1. What do you think about Twitter and Facebook sharing buttons?
  2. Which social sharing buttons do you use? And what tools/plugins are you using to create them?
  3. Where are you placing your buttons? Before content – or after content? Widget sidebars – or floating in the margins?
  4. … and what’s working best for you – and what’s on the verge of perishing?
6 Responses to 5 Social Sharing Buttons That Help Your Thoughts Go Viral
  1. Mike CJ
    Twitter: mikecj
    August 21, 2010 | 1:54 am

    I put the Facebook like button at the top of the post and the Tweet button at the bottom with Digg. They all get used moderately well. Finally, I have one of those combined things for everything else (Delicious etc), that nobody seems to use.

    I’ve only ever had two posts go viral, and in both cases it was because someone “big” picked it up and tweeted about it, which lead to many hundreds of others doing the same.
    Mike CJ recently posted… One way to make some money from domains

    • Kapil Apshankar
      August 21, 2010 | 11:40 pm

      That’s an interesting insight, Mike. I am going to spend some time researching into the definite virality potential of the social sharing buttons – and will have something concrete to report in a couple of weeks.

      I always though the buttons are a key element of taking posts viral – and looks like that hasn’t been your experience.

      I’ll spend some time collating quantitative data about what percentage contribution these buttons actually go. We might be wrong – based on what the numbers tell us. We’ll see …. πŸ™‚

  2. Danny Brown
    Twitter: DannyBrown
    August 21, 2010 | 1:11 pm

    Great points, Kapil. It always amazes me when I see a blog that has no (or limited) sharing options on it. There are a ton of ways to implement, and it can help grow traffic immensely.

    Quick pointer – Seth does actually have Like and Retweet on his blog πŸ˜‰
    Danny Brown recently posted… Are You Selling Baldness Cream to Seth Godin

    • Kapil Apshankar
      August 21, 2010 | 7:36 pm

      You’re right Danny – both Seth and Leo have sharing options. I guess I was suffering from selective ignorance when I was on Seth’s blog for the buttons.

      Nevertheless, the sharing options on Seth’s blog don’t stand out – primarily because he chooses a smaller point font. The button too is still TweetMeme, would be good to move that to the new Twitter button now.

      What I do want want to call out though, is that the sharing buttons should definitely stand out in a blog design. Stand out not as in gaudy – but as in inviting.

      I’m updating the post to spell out the context – thanks for catching (and pointing) this out.

      I agree – sharing is one of the first things I have started looking for on my “daily read” blogs these days πŸ™‚

  3. Mick Gill
    Twitter: Mick_Gill
    August 21, 2010 | 2:40 pm

    I find the one that brings me most Traffic to my Blog is Stumble upon!

    Maybe thats because its quite new only four Weeks or so!
    Mick Gill recently posted… Solar Toothbrush Eliminates The Need For Toothpaste

    • Kapil Apshankar
      August 21, 2010 | 7:39 pm

      Hmm – that’s an interesting insight Mick. Do you mind sharing the percentage breakup of traffic to your blog from the social sharing options?

      Thanks for stopping by – and hope you keep coming back πŸ™‚