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Website Must-Have Tip: Social Media Sharing and Following Links

40 Days of Blogging - Day 26

If you’re anything like me, you like to share the love when you see, read, listen to, learn about, eat, or experience something really great. Right?

And if you’re a sharer, you really prefer it (and probably share more often) when the task of sharing is easy and convenient. Right again, eh?

When it comes to sharing content you read or listen to online, please do your readers and listeners a favor by making it uber-easy for them to share your goodness with the world.

The easiest and most obvious way to do this is to add social sharing buttons to your website. Thank goodness, this is extremely easy with WordPress because all you have to do is install a social sharing plugin, do a little configuration, and you’re all set.

I’m sure it’s just as easy with other Content Management Systems, but since I specialize in WordPress, I’ll just focus on WordPress-related products.

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While you can do plenty of research to find the right plugin that fits your needs in terms of functionality and design (just Google “best social sharing plugin WordPress”), I have found that ShareThis is truly my favorite.

I install the ShareThis plugin on nearly every site I develop. You can customize where you want the sharing buttons (top of page, bottom of post, on certain pages, off to the left of the screen, etc.) and how you want the icons to look stylistically (add a counter to show the number of shares, change the size of the buttons, etc.).

This is such a no-brainer, you’d be silly to NOT install it. Plus, you’d be making it really hard for your readers to share your content…and why would you want to do that?

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Now let’s talk about liking and following, shall we?

While the ultimate goal is to get people to your website, you want them to connect with you on social media as well. You likely share information on social media networks more often than you post to your blog. Therefore, you want to make sure that your target audience sees your posts on social media so that they can not only stay engaged with you but also share your content. And of course, you eventually want them to come back to your site.

It’s a classic symbiotic relationship! While one probably CAN exist without the other, it’s strongly suggested to connect the two (your website and social media channels – and vice versa).

I don’t know about you, but when I find a company on social media that I’ve never heard of or looked into, the first thing I look for (after liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter) is the link to their website. If they want me to learn more about them, that’s the place where it’s going to happen! And the same thing goes for their website – as soon as I get onto a new website, the first thing I look for are social media icons so I can go like and follow their pages. That way, I ensure that I’m connected to them and will be in the loop on any new information they post.

We are all interconnectedIf I REALLY want to make sure I stay connected to a business/person, and I know for sure that I like what they are offering, I’ll sign up for their email list (which should be in a very prominent location so it’s easy to find). I talk about the importance of having an email opt-in for on your site in this post.

Confession: When I first got into web design, I thought I needed to have really fun and creative social media icons on my site. I was constantly downloading free social media icon sets that I found or even creating my own (hmmm…are flowers REALLY appropriate?). Well, since web design is (now) all about clean, simple, easy to navigate design, I stick to simple icons that match each client’s site (in color and shape).

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There are two very important things to consider when putting social media icons and links on your site:

1. Put them in a highly visible location (especially if you’re really active on social media and want to increase your likes and follows).

2. Make sure the link opens in a new window/tab so your visitors can easily get back to your site if they close the social media site’s window.

If you want to take it a step further, you can embed a Facebook Like Box and/or Twitter Feed + Follow Button directly onto your site. This way, your visitors can like or follow you without even leaving your site.

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If there’s anything you take away from this post, I hope it’s that you’ll make sure your social media pages are connected to your website (include your URL on all of your social media pages) and your website is connected to your social media pages (include social media icons so people can like and follow you AND include social sharing buttons so they can share your content).

Need help designing your social media icons, making sure the links are opening in a new window/tab, and/or embedding Like Boxes and/or Twitter Feeds? Contact me here so we can get you all set up.

Until tomorrow,

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