You can hardly miss social media buttons. They are sprawled across the internet and appear in ever greater numbers on various blogs and websites. There are a huge number of websites that now use these buttons to allow users to post links to content or like a web page. The list of services that the AddThis widget contains gives an idea of just how many there are!
In this article l will be concentrating on three such services: Twitter, Facebook and Google. These services can be used to help your website content go viral - all it takes is the click of a button for users to spread the word about your website. Due to this simplicity many users are now choosing to interact with these buttons.
The buttons also allow you to easily bring more users to your website. Rather than just relying on search engine optimisation and your own hard work, these buttons enable users to spread the word for you. By sharing links to your website across these services you will potentially gain more inbound links that will help to improve the rank of your pages.
It is very easy to add these buttons to your website with many services providing code you simply copy and paste into your web site, while web developers will be able to implement more advanced tools.
Most people are only going to click on one 'vote' button on for example a blog, so it might be best to concentrate on one particular social media format.
Why use a Twitter button on your website?
Twitter have created their own button that allows users to easily post links to a webpage from the page itself whilst trying to minimise the process by which the user can Tweet. Since Twitter has become so popular the Tweet button has become commonplace.
Cons of Twitter button
This button allows your users to post Tweets linking to your site, although they can post any text they want. This means you have less control over what the user ends up Tweeting whether good or bad.
Twitter has now released a second button, the Follow button. This allows users to easily connect to your Twitter account and follow you.
To use Twitter successfully you need to engage your Followers on a regular basis. By using the Twitter button on your website you may get many more Followers engaging with you via Twitter and although this is beneficial it can lead to a lot of time being used to respond.
Pros of Twitter button
Due to a recent update you now don't need to leave the site in order to post a Tweet. This is great as you do not want these social media buttons to move users away from your website.
This button allows a user to post a Tweet which contains a lot more information than a Facebook 'Like' or Google +1. You can configure the link to include text that automatically appears when the user clicks the Twitter button. This can be extremely useful for example, when describing a blog page.
Tweets can be re-tweeted by other users therefore passing on the link to your page. This could mean that just one user re-tweeting you to their followers results in your link reaching many more users.
Advantages of Facebook social media button
Facebook uses a 'Like' button that posts a link to the Facebook user's wall informing all their friends that they like a particular web page. They also have a 'Send' button that allows the Facebook user to send a private message to particular friends rather than adding it to their wall. The 'Send' button is more traceable which makes it a very useful button to use.
Cons of Facebook buttons
The results of the 'like' are only displayed within Facebook which means users of your site need to have an account to be able to 'Like' a page. If you are a business and don't have a Facebook page you won't benefit from a user 'liking' your business.
Facebook 'like' button allows users to write something about the link they are 'liking'. You do not have control over what they write which could lead to negative reviews on Facebook.
The Facebook 'like' button posts the content to the users wall which can mean that your link only has a brief exposure to that users friends before it gets pushed further down the page by more recent updates. This depends on how active the user is on Facebook but it does mean many of the user's Facebook friends may not view the link.
Pros of Facebook buttons
If someone 'Likes' your website this will then appear on their Facebook wall to all their friends. Because most people do not want to spam their friends they will only 'Like' what they are really interested in which l think leads to more users clicking on those links. Since the 'Likes' are posted on a user's wall they are targeted to actual people rather than other businesses, auto bot accounts etc.
Facebook gives users a few options when posting a 'like' which give the user more control over where the link goes. They can add it to their own wall, a friend's wall, to a group or on their own page. This may means users are more likely to use this button as they can control where the link ends up being posted.
Should I add Google +1 links to my website?
Google has recently entered the social media fray with their +1 button. This allows users to recommend web pages they are interested in. The results of these will then be added to search engine displays, Google profiles, web pages and also used in Google's algorithm to give more tailored search results to users.
Cons of Google +1
You need a Google account to use this button and see the results of +1's and there are still a lot of people who do not have one. Users are likely to increase with the parallel Google + social media tool and further integration of +1 with Google's search results and other services.
At the moment the use of this button for search results is still at an experimental stage for Google and you have to 'Join the experiment' to see the effects of +1's in search results.
Google +1 button slows down your site according to this blog, although they say they are working on these issues.
While Twitter and Facebook provide you with new links and increased exposure, the +1 button doesn't yet connect you with anything. It's primarily a service that helps Google create better algorithms and does not actively promote your site to new people. Google says this is about the difference between +1 button and Google Buzz: "The +1 button and the Buzz button have different purposes. The Buzz button lets people quickly and easily share content and start conversations, while the +1 button is a quick, easy way to make recommendations in Google search." Read article
Pros of Google +1
Although it's still early, with the power of Google behind it and the ubiquity of its search engine, the influence of +1 is likely to grow. When you +1 a website it will not only appear in your Google profile but also in your friends' search results with no time limit. So even after a few months other users will still see the impact of your +1.
It is now available worldwide
Google is now showing local +1 counts in the USA according to Search Engine Land whether you are logged in or not. If you are logged in then you see which of your friends have +1'd a page
Google+ button is already installed on more resources than the Tweet button despite only being released very recently. This seems to lead to companies considering the Google +1 button to be the better option. If this trend continues it will see the +1 button becoming a very important resource to use on websites. Read the Mashable article
Which social media button should I use?
In terms of online marketing in the long run the +1 button may be the button of choice. This is mainly because as Google starts to expand the +1 button further into search results it will become visible to a huge number of users, dominating other social media buttons and making it impossible to ignore.
Due to Google's dominance the button will appear in so many places across the web that eventually it will become seen as a trustworthy recommendation tool for everyone. As more users utilise it people will come to rely on a website's +1 score as a good indication of its usefulness.