As social media continues to grow as a valid source of traffic for blogs, there are certain fundamental components that bloggers need to incorporate. Social media integration is both easy and extremely difficult – you want it to help contribute to the message but you don’t want it to be overbearing in any way.
Don’t let the desire for social media traffic hamper the quality of the blog when the traffic gets there.
This is a dual-purpose post: we want to help educate, of course, but we’re also about to go through a redesign. As I do the research and test out different options, it gives me the opportunity to see what others are doing. I am blessed with access to analytics across several different client sites, so I can see what’s working and what’s not.
Some of the things I’ve found go against classic tips from the recent past. As with everything involving the ever-changing world of social media, many things that worked yesterday do not work today but may work again tomorrow.
Social Media Integration
- Less is more. Only use the buttons that make sense for your blog. Facebook and Twitter are “must haves” for nearly all blogs. Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon work for sites that have viral-style content. There is no need for Delicious, Mixx, Google Buzz, or any of the other buttons that do nothing more than take up space.
- Think “niche.” If you have a web design blog, for example, DesignBump is likely suitable. It won’t send the traffic quantity that others send, but the relevant nature may help to improve visitor quality and bring you loyal subscribers.
- Do not let the buttons at the top of the articles interfere with the flow of the page. Compact buttons work at the top of the article:
- Buttons on the sidebar, under the content, or scrolling buttons can be large:
(These scrolling buttons can be found on Riyaz)
- Always use “smart buttons” whenever possible. They offer counts to demonstrate popularity of a post. More importantly, you can often control how the content will be posted on the social media sites such as titles, descriptions, and attribution.
- Tweetmeme buttons are better than the native Twitter buttons. I know that many will scream “blasphemy,” particularly since Tweetmeme recommends the native Twitter button, but they are only being modest and likely trying to get brownie points. They know their button is better. It’s up more often. It’s real-time — sometimes the native Twitter button won’t update the counts for hours.
- Now that Facebook Likes are treated much the same way as Shares, it’s a good practice to have both available.
Social Profile Buttons
- Keep them together. Keep them consistently designed. Call it a pet peeve, but there are few things more annoying than having different types of buttons or buttons that are spread out in different spots on the page.
- Avoid generic wording in badges. The standard “Follow Us on Facebook” button is so prevalent in real life and across the web that it now has a negative effect. People see it but it often doesn’t register. Assume that your readers are smart enough that if they see a lower-case “f” in a dark blue box that they’re likely to be taken to your Facebook page if they click on it.
- Activity widgets are good… if there’s activity. These widgets are not going to help you get more interaction on the other sites. Think of them strictly as a credibility enhancement tool. If you have a Digg widget that shows a bunch of stories with 1 Digg, it isn’t helping your site.
These are the basics. There are dozens of other ways to integrate social media into your blogs, but if you focus on having the right buttons, you’ve already won half the battle.
Did I miss any?