October 2, 2014

Should You Use Social Media Buttons On Your Blog or Website?

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.

Viable Options

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.

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

19 comments

  1. I do use them, because I know if I go to a site and like the content I’m not going to hunt it down on various social media sites. If the button’s in front of me though, I’ll vote. I use the same reasoning for my own blog.

  2. Tay,
    I agree, and that’s why I use them too. Sometimes I’ll pick and choose which posts to use the buttons on since I don’t think every post is a good fit for social media. Thanks for your comment.

  3. I agree that those buttons should only be on the posts that might do well on social media.

    What do you guys think of feedflare from feedburner? Those are text links to social media sites at the end of the post on my blog.. Is it less effective than stand out buttons?

  4. Pearl,
    I have never used FeedFlare within the post (only as a part of the feed), but part of the reason is because I have never clicked on them on other blogs. I think other buttons are more effective, but that’s probably a matter of opinion. The good thing about FeedFlare is that if you put it in your single.php file you won’t have to add it to posts or ever mess with it.

  5. Interesting point from Steven about never clicking on the feedflare buttons.

    I use feedflare on both my blogs, but am not convinced of its merit.

  6. I do use social media buttons on my blog to make it easier for visitors to vote up/submit my content. Although I keep the number of icons to a minimum. Currently I only have icons of a few sites that actually drive traffic. Some people just go gung-ho and include every single button provided by the plugin. I say, include only the important ones…

  7. Ruchir,
    That’s my feeling exactly.

  8. I use the ShareThis button instead but am still wondering whether it is effective at all compared to say, just placing a SU button.

  9. Too many buttons make a real mess in the window.

  10. Nicely put. I have experienced the same result for my site. In fact turnout from social networking sites has been greater for me than search engine traffic.

  11. Recognizing your followers (ie, Twitter) is a great way to display social proof

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