I see too many cases where a site owners knows that they can leverage social media platforms to bring traffic to their site but their onsite social buttons strategy is ‘set it and forget it’, never going back to optimize them for a better result. With the overall social media user count rising constantly and everyone sharing the great things they find on the web with their friends and networks, it’s increasingly important that you’re making the most of that attention.
While having the buttons in general is step one you also want them to; Get clicked on, people completing the share, and that social share driving new visitors/potential customers to your site IE: CONVERTING
Later I will show you how to manage those pieces but first let's acknowledge that when you keep adding more and social sharing buttons you distract customers/readers/visitors from the other buttons that drive traffic as well as you’re slowing your pages down.
There is a two step process to optimizing this, the first step is to reduce the overall number of social sites attached and the second is to consolidate the remaining buttons into one (as detailed below).
Identify Your Optimal Social Buttons
Warning: If you don’t already have good analytics then it’s going to be a little difficult to figure out some of the data needed.
First, reduce the amount of buttons on the page by removing buttons that aren’t appropriate for your site. If you have an ecommerce site that sells electronics, then there is no reason for you to have a share button for Polyvore, a fashion oriented niche social sharing site. Any sharing buttons that do not relate to your target customer or relate to your site’s content needs to go.
After this, you want to narrow the button count a little more by figuring out which buttons your user base is using as well as if they’re bringing users. Start this process by eliminating the social networks that stand out as ones that are rarely shared to and/or rarely ever give you traffic.
If you’re using analytics on your share buttons that count not only the number of shares but also which platform that share went to, then write down the number of times your site has been shared to each platform. Go into google analytics, kissmetrics, or any other analytics platform and find the number of referrals from each of those social sites. Then do this equation: (# of visits from social site X/# of shares to social site X). This equation will give you the average number of clicks per share. Eliminate the ones that aren’t converting so that you only have 2-5 left.
Why did we do this? You want to maximize the shares going to the sites where your target audiences are. Each share that goes to another site that never brings clicks/conversions is a wasted share from a user who will most likely not revisit that specific page again. As well as when choices drop, shares should increase. While currently this is only an assumption (I’m beginning tests on this theory, if you have a source that already has run tests, please share in a comment) if you watch Sheena Iyengar's speech about choices, you’ll quickly see why this assumption remains valid. People don’t like too many options. Making it easier for them to decide will increase their interaction.
Consolidate Your Buttons
Now that you know which buttons you should have on your site, it’s time to condense them into one. Why? I have three main reasons:
1. Less updates and changes need to be made. Social sites are constantly changing bits and pieces to their code. Social button providers like AddShoppers will keep up to date on these changes for you.
2. Less requests from external sources. Instead of pulling from 2-5 different domains just to get the buttons, you’ll be able to pull from just one (possibly two). This should reduce your page load time.
3. Less data to upload. Each piece of code adds new data that must be transferred when a user loads your website.When these buttons are consolidated, the total size will be greater than one single button but far less than the collection of individual buttons. Social buttons are on most if not every webpage on your site. Making every kilobyte that must be sent to the visitor to display the buttons that much more important. Less bytes = quicker loading time.
You’ll need to choose a social button provider that will consolidate the buttons for you. There are many different social media providers that consolidate your buttons, so do some research to find which is right for you. For my example below, I am going to use AddShoppers’ buttons because I am most familiar with these. Addshoppers’ buttons consolidate several social media buttons into one and they allow for customization as to which buttons I can set to be shown.
Note: Upon first look you’ll notice that these buttons are meant primarily for ecommerce sites. Don’t worry: if you’re a blog, they’ll work for you too.
Consolidated social media buttons by a provider will look sometime like this:
Placing Your Social Media Buttons
For some reason, I see all too often sites who place their social media buttons in these two places: the far right side of the screen or the bottom of the page. The right side of a web page is bad because of the way we (english speakers/readers) view web pages. Our eyes, most likely because of the direction in which we read, tend to focus on the left side of the page. The bottom of a web page is also bad because it will reduce the number of people who see your social buttons. Not everyone is going to read/view all of the content on a page and make it to the bottom to find the buttons.
Here is my personal list for best placement locations:
- On the upper area know as above the fold
- Above or to the left side of the page
- Close to the content that you want shared
However, every site has a different design, layout, content style, etc. Due to these factors, the only way to know which location performs the best for your site is to do A/B or multivariate testing.
Everyone has seen the common like button, the pin button, and the twitter logo a million times now. It’s become almost boring to see these icons over and over again. Personally, I glaze over most of them at this point, as if they were just a part of the background.
Try your hardest to be different from the rest. Utilize different buttons such as the ‘want’ or ‘own’ buttons for facebook instead of the common like button. Additionally, try different custom designs for each social button. You can make your own in photoshop/gimp or you can find various designs quite easily. Just ask the designer of the button image if you can use their button. Find one that fits well with your brand and start there. Once again, this is something you’ll want to test to find which designs will work the best.
Here’s a great example of social buttons that have been taken to another level:
These buttons are found on ShopJeen.com and are powered by AddShoppers. These buttons are easily noticeable and grab your attention, all while still displaying exactly what each one of these buttons means and the social network they’re for.
Optimize During/After Share Text
Congratulations, you’ve followed along so far and your buttons are now maximizing their on-site social sharing potential. While many competitors will stop here and say “job well done” to themselves after increasing/maximizing the number of daily social shares on their pages, this is your opportunity to take it further.
Your goal now is to tailor the posting text that each social share button automatically fills for your users.
Why do this? Paying attention and delicately crafting the text that social buttons are automatically displaying raises the probability that your customers will follow through with the share. Lets admit it: everyone is lazy. Sometimes, you need to give an extra push to get things done. In addition, customized share text will increase the re-shares and click throughs on each individual’s share.
So how do we manage this text? The meta data and image alt tags on each page is what control the text displayed in the sharing boxes. Keep fixing the coding and text until you get the posts to show what you want.
The best way to find out initially what’s posting is to check. Pick a few pages and products and share them to each social network. Continue this as you continue to update what your site’s displaying.
It's Time To Maximize Their Potential
Everyone focuses on converting customers and increasing ad based click throughs, but they don’t pay attention to social media conversions. If you focus as much attention on making sure your social media buttons and user shares are hitting as hard as the rest of your marketing, you’ll be driving endless amounts of new visitors and social referrals.
Social buttons ARE NOT a “Lets just stick them on our site and be done” marketing tactic. They require focus and love too.
Do the steps and report your results in the comments section. If you disagree with one of the points, want to add something, or have a question please leave a comment or tweet me at @Camrncrazy.
Written by: Mitchell Abdullah