If you spend much time reading blogs you’ve certainly seen plenty of buttons, widgets, and links that are aimed at generating traffic through social media. Of course, the idea is that placing these voting buttons in front of visitors will increase the number of votes that you receive, but is that really the case?
The choices that are available for different buttons and widgets are almost endless. Each major social media site has its own (the “Digg This” button is one of the most common), and there are a number of other options that allows users to vote on any number of different sites. Additionally, WordPress users have a seemingly countless number of plugins from which to choose.
Pros of Using Voting Buttons
They remind visitors to vote – Some of your readers/visitors would be willing to vote for you, but they just don’t always think about it. These buttons and widgets can be a great way to give a friendly reminder.
They make it easier to vote – One of the main reasons for using buttons or widgets is to make the voting process as easy for visitors as possible. Rather than having to leave your site and go find the page on (insert name of social media site here), they can simply click the button. The idea is, if you make it easier more people will vote.
They help visitors know which social media sites you want to target – Buttons for a specific social media site let visitors know where to vote for you. For example, if you use a Digg button, it’s pretty obvious that you are targeting Digg. The general buttons/widgets, such as AddThis, don’t help in this way.
Cons of Using Voting Buttons
Most visitors ignore them – Because these buttons tend to be everywhere, visitors start to ignore them and some don’t even notice them. In a way it becomes similar to ad blindness. Of course, in this case they are very ineffective.
Some of your visitors may not recognize them – Depending on the niche that you are in, it’s very possible that your visitors will not even know what these buttons are. If visitors don’t understand the purpose of the buttons they certainly won’t use them, and the buttons may even give your website/blog an awkward appearance in their eyes.
Too many buttons will make all of them ineffective – Blogs that have every imaginable button and widget are likely to get decent results from any of them. Why? Partly because visitors won’t know which one you want to target. As a result, those visitors who do vote for you will be spread out over several different sites.
What Not to Do
If you decide to use social media buttons or widgets to try for some extra traffic avoid the temptation to promote too many of them at one time. Websites/blogs that have a button or widget for every imaginable social media site rarely get results, and they look extremely cluttered. If you aren’t sure which ones you want to target, try testing some different options temporarily and change it up every now and then. Once you’ve decided what is most effective you’ll have a cleaner look and any button that you use will have a stronger impact.
Use no social media buttons/widgets at all – The first option you have is to keep your site clean and rely on other to submit and vote for your content without the use of buttons. Of course that doesn’t mean that you can’t promote your content in other ways with social media. Most social media sites have built in methods for sharing submissions with others, plus you can always ask friends for a vote. I think this choice should at least partially depend on your niche. If voting buttons will do more harm than good, considering leaving them out of your design.
Target a few specific social media sites – This is the approach that I think most bloggers should take. Social media can be one of the best sources of traffic for blogs, so why not help to make it easy for your visitors to vote for you? I have found it to be most effective to promote no more than 2 or 3 different social media sites at any time. Pick one, or a few, that your visitors are likely to use, ad a button and see what happens.
Potential Locations for Buttons
One thing you will want to experiment with a little bit is the positioning of the buttons and widgets. Some of them will allow you more flexibility when it comes to locations than others. Your choices include the top of posts, bottom of posts and the sidebar. Experiment with a few different combinations of bottoms and locations to see what works best for you.
What’s Your Opinion?
Do you use social media buttons on your website or blog? Why or why not? Please feel free to share your results.