Giving your visitors the ability to share your content on their social profiles is maybe the most important aspect of your online marketing strategy. That ability comes with the addition of sharing capabilities that result from buttons provided by each and every single popular social network out there.
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However, when it comes to sharing web content, the single most important social functionality is the Facebook button. The world’s most popular social network and internet’s cafe gives you plenty of options, which include a Like Button, a Share Button and a Recommend Button.
All of the above draw the same power from OpenGraph and your website’s tags, but they operate a bit differently on how the content is shared, but most importantly, how the user can interact with them.
But which one do you choose, considering there are so many types of Facebook users out there, and for what content to what end?
Before we lay down all the variables, let’s have a look at some examples.
Case Study of Facebook Buttons & Their Use
Facebook offers 3 types of sharing buttons: the Like Button, the Share Button and the Recommend Button. Three different ways of user interaction. Let’s say for example John Doe has a blog – he writes about muffins and tech and inspiration and travelling. Which one should he use?
The Share Button on a Specific Subject
TheNextWeb uses a customized Share Button on its posts. After clicking on it, the share-dialog pops up and provides you with the ability to customize your story.
Sharing and commenting on your story basically means you are about to dedicate from ten seconds (10s) to about two minutes (120s) on writing the perfect comment that goes along with the story you are about to share – depending of course on the type of user you are.
TheNextWeb offers news, articles and content on a specific niche of the market, or rather of, a specific industry. Jane Doe, who likes reading and doesn’t know the model of her mobile phone, would most likely not read TNW, or even if she only cared about the emerging concept of drones, she would probably not share the article, much more comment on it – because she is simply not interested in the tech industry, nor do her peers and online social circle.
Of course, there is also Jack Brown, who reads TNW regularly and loves being ahead of the news in the tech industry. Jack would most likely dedicate time to commenting on the share-dialog and if his online peers took part in the following conversation, would do it regularly. Unless of course Jack doesn’t like sharing on Facebook about non-personal news.
The Share Button on a General Subject
Time, NY Times Magazine website, offers a variety of subjects with an inclination towards news and breaking worldwide stories. Its versatility can only be matched by its quality.
They also offer a Share Button that opens up the share-dialog and allows you to further comment on the story you are sharing. Only in this case, the subject cannot be defined by a specific industry, therefore readers and viewers cannot be placed within specific categories.
Jane may read the Times Magazine, may enjoy it – maybe even her peers would appreciate the occasional social discussion on one of the stories she might share. The same case might be true for John Doe, who’s looking for inspiration or being a blogger, also might be an avid reader.
So many “ifs” and “mights” to take into consideration.
The generality of the subjects offered by your web content will most likely attract a whole variety of readers, therefore even more different types of Facebook users. The Share Button is a necessity for general audiences, because it instantly focuses on the share-dialog, which someone may or may not use to comment even further. Your are providing the complete set, nonetheless.
Unlike the Like Button (oh the irony), which is a convenience, if not ease of use, for most.
The Like Button
TechCrunch offers the latest news and updates on the tech industry, including entrepreneurship. Unlike our previous two examples, TC uses the Like Button, the insta-share modern miracle of social connectivity – they also combine the Like Button with the Tweet Button and LinkedIn Share.
The three featured social buttons give us a clue on the type of Jane and John Does who read and view TechCrunch. They are driven by specific subjects and are probably experts on these fields or are looking to start their career based on TC’s niche.
Most likely, it’s business to them. No need to share or comment. Give it to them ready, because they probably have no time or just don’t find the act of commenting that important.
You can always comment on the like-dialog, but the sharing has already occurred.
Using the Like Button means you focus on content and spreading the word. Comments and discussions are not as important as offering content and allowing your viewers to instantly share it. Fast viewers probably never visit Twitter nor do they comment on anything on Facebook.
TC also “fills the gap” of the missing Share Button with Facebook’s commenting plugin.
Jane who finds no interest in the tech industry but likes the subject of drones, will probably not like the article. John, being a blogger himself, would take use of the Like Button, most likely to continue nurturing his area of expertise on social media and his circle of peers.
Jack, who loves news in the tech industry and likes to stay ahead of the game, will definitely like the article – but not for the same reasons as John Doe. Jack simply enjoys the subject. His clicking the Like Button has nothing to do with social acceptance.
Everything depends on the type of Facebook user your content appeals to.
The Like Button for Static Content
You can exploit the agility and power of the Like Button even further, by adding it to a static page.
Numbers on any popular social network translate into social validation which could in turn spike interest and help produce results towards your social goal, which is most commonly, virality. The Like Button can help you achieve that goal, with its insta-share capability.
About Pinterest does exactly that: it takes use of specific social buttons to insta-share their brand, no comments needed. In no case would you ever find yourself needing to comment after sharing static content like this. The Like Button simply offers a way for you to express your approval.
Should you wish to send this to someone specific (perhaps a graphic designer who can’t describe the context to a photographer), Pinterest has brilliantly provided a share button.
This type of social sharing is fast, instant and no strings attached.
So, John Doe has a blog promoting his business, but the business site is currently under construction. John Doe is only interested in providing social validation for his upcoming online presence. Therefore, John Doe will probably use the Share Button for the company’s blog, combined with a Like Button for the website’s homepage, covering both ends of the same subject.
Determine the Types of Social Buttons Required
By all means, this is not a matter of life and death. In order to achieve great results, however, you must determine which social button is the best for your content and your audience.
Three aspects seem to play a big role in your strategy’s success:
- User Interface
- Type of Content
- Target Audience
Marketing has always been a part of design. How the eye perceives space. How the brain deciphers information. Placing the products on your shelves is no different than placing elements on a website.
The User Interface determines where you should place social sharing and connectivity. Think how we prioritize information when we read or discover new things on the web – then, apply that thought process from your audience’s perspective. Too much blue around and your Like Button will disappear. Too narrow and the like-dialog will never be visible.
A clear space, a dedicated section, clean functionality.
Type of Content
Be it a news site, a product page or a company’s blog, the type of content is greatly affected by the design, and vice verse. About Pinterest is nothing like TechCrunch.
Focusing on images and visual content requires different methods and platforms than focusing on text. Your text-based target audience is more likely to comment on the share-dialog, while your visual-based audience will find it more convenient to just click a Like and be done with it.
Find out why your audience views your content and what they usually do on Facebook.
Different motives combined with different actions and different interests require different types of social buttons. For example, if you talk about politics, a Like Button would be a very bad choice. Younger audiences tend to like and go – not bother with commenting – while older audiences who use the network would most likely want to comment and would understand the share-dialog much better.
In any case, the secret recipe to success is experimentation. Find out the perfect blend of ingredients through trial and error – dedicate time to discover exactly what your audience interacts best with.
Like or Share.
To learn more, visit Facebook’s developer section on social sharing:
You can also dive into OpenGraph tags and rules, in order to further customize how your web content looks on social media. Customizing social buttons is a tricky business, but I will make sure to cover the subject on a future post, here on We Are Social Media.
Have something to add to this story? Share your insight and comments below.
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