Didn’t you ever watch TV growing up? Everyone knows you shouldn’t push a button if you don’t know what it does. Especially if it is large and a hue of blush (I don’t know why no one in Staples’ marketing department was informed of this.).
“Push this Easy button!”
“Uhm, I’m going to have to go with no on this one.”
Furthermore, it would be ill-advised to leave a button laying around your house if you don’t know its purpose.
“What’s this do?”
“I’m not sure. We put it there because Bob told us to–Don’t touch it!”
This dialogue always occurs just as unsuspecting Fred is pushing said button. Worst case scenario, you blow someone or something up (We didn’t really need Canada, did we?). Best case scenario, you end up in the Jurassic period in a field of grazing stegosauruses with a pile of pens (Wait, they’re not carnivorous, are they? Why are these pens here?). In the case of social buttons, you’re unlikely to end up time-traveling or causing WW3 (Canada has a military. I Googled it. Managing Partner and Canadian Joe Ford was not here to consult.), but it is important to understand the differences between the plethora of social plugins, buttons, and features when integrating them into your business website.
With the real time nature of the social media landscape and fast-paced roll-outs, it is no wonder that some might confuse social media features. As of late, we’ve had a few clients that have been justifiably perplexed about social media buttons/plugins, how to integrate them into their websites, and what they actually do when someone clicks on them.
We blame them- those Twitter, Google, Facebook folk- for making this so confusing. It seems that all the social platforms have gone rogue and decided to dub their categories of buttons different terms and change them rapidly (Heaven forbid they make it easy for us!). For my purposes in this post, I’m going to place the types of buttons under two categories: SHARE buttons and PROFILE/PAGE buttons. Please note that each platform offers a whole host of ways you can work social plugins into your website, but for this specific blog, I’m going to stick to the basic share content versus direct users to brand page conundrum.
Share Buttons: By installing a “Share button” plugin on a specific website page, you are allowing individuals to share or recommend that specific link and content to their friends/networks on their personal profile page.
Profile/Page buttons: These can be easily made without the use of social plugins. They are simply icons with links, boxes or badges provided by the platform, or plain text links that direct individuals to visit your social media Page or Profile. The platforms offer up plugins for these as well.
Now, let’s dive into the details social platform by platform. I’ll go over Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Please note that to avoid any confusion, I will list the social share function first under each section and the page button second.
Facebook Page: This is your business’s branded Facebook Page.
Facebook Profile/Timeline: This is your personal Facebook account.
FACEBOOK LIKE BUTTON
(This used to be called the Facebook Share button which is probably where a lot of the confusion stems from. Facebook can tell you here why they have decided to phase out the term “share”.)
- What It does: The Like button lets a user share your content with friends on Facebook.
- The Confusing Details: You won’t be directing individuals to your Facebook Page by installing a Facebook “Like” button onto a specific website page. Instead, you are allowing the individual to “Like”/share the information, content, or product that is found on that specific website page on their personal Facebook Profile. There is no correlation between clicking the Like Button on a specific website page and directing users to “Like” your branded Facebook Page UNLESS you are using Open Graph Protocol (I’ll save that for another blog post).
- How it shows up: When the user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user’s friends’ News Feed with a link back to your website. It also shows up on their Timeline (as seen in image below).
- How to get it: You can use third party places like AddThis and ShareThis or you can go directly to Facebook here.
If you choose the latter and head straight to Facebook, you will be directed to customize the look and specifics of your button. Depending on what sort of page you are installing it on or what kind of content you are sharing, you can change up the wording, actions, and layout a bit.Verb options include Recommend and Like. Facebook also gives you the option to include a Send feature which means allowing users to directly send a friend the content in a Facebook Message. For other ways to integrate Facebook features into your website, click here.
FACEBOOK PROFILE/PAGE BUTTON
There are couple solutions for a Facebook button that will direct users to “Like” your Branded Facebook Page or invite users to subscribe to your Facebook Profile’s (Soon to be Timeline) public updates.
- You can simply include a text link that says “Follow Us on Facebook” or create/download your own Facebook icon and link it to your Facebook Page using the Facebook.com/BusinessName format (We recommend opening in new window.).
- If you want to use a social plugin, Facebook offers up a Like Box to place on your page to attract new “Likes”. It also has a Subscribe Plugin to allow users to subscribe to your public Facebook updates.
This is how we link out to our Facebook Page using icons that were designed to match our website:
This is a Facebook Like Box:
- Company Profile: Your company profile page.
- Member Profile: Your personal LinkedIn profile page.
LINKEDIN SHARE BUTTON
- What it does: The LinkedIn Share button enables users to share your content with LinkedIn’s professional audience and drive traffic back to your site.
- The Confusing Details: It DOES NOT direct users to your personal LinkedIn Member Profile or your LinkedIn Company Profile.
- How it shows up: When a user clicks Share, the content is displayed in their updates for their connections to see.
Where to get it: You can use broad third party solutions or go straight to the LinkedIn Publisher Network here. Leave the URL blank unless you want the button to share another URL besides the page the individual has landed on.
LINKEDIN PROFILE BUTTONS
Company Profile Button
A Company Profile Button should allow you to direct individuals to follow your Company Profile on LinkedIn. For a Company Profile Button, you may include a text link or icon linking to your Company Profile or you can use a social plugin.
The Company Profile Social Plugin is seen below.
Member Profile Buttons
If by chance YOU are your business, a Member Profile Button or Member Profile Plugin might be better suited for you. This type of button or plugin will direct individuals to view your personal LinkedIn Member Profile. Like I mentioned previously, you can simply link a preexisting button you’ve made or provide a simple text link to your LinkedIn Member Profile by using the standard www.linkedin.com/in/yournamehere format.
LinkedIn offers premade buttons here to promote your profile that are various of the following:
The Member Profile plugin is seen below.
Twitter is probably the simplest of the platforms when it comes to laying out their button, plugin, and widget options.
SHARE A LINK BUTTON
- What it does: This buttons allows users to Tweet content found on your page to their followers.
- How it shows up: The content that your users Tweet shows up in their Twitter Timeline for their followers to view.
- Where to get it: Twitter offers the Share A Link button under resources. Twitter also allows you to prompt your website visitors to mention a specific user, credit a user, or add a Hashtag.
TWITTER FOLLOW BUTTON
A Twitter Follow button directs individuals to follow your Twitter handle. Like we keep stating for each section, this can be achieved by a simple link from your website to your Twitter page or any type of Twitter image or icon linking to http://www.twitter.com/yourtwitternamehere. Twitter provides couple ways to integrate a Twitter Follow button into your site. You can grab a pre-made button from the “Follow” tab under Twitter Resources found here.
If you’re rather use a widget, Twitter allows you to grab a Twitter Profile Widget to add to your site as seen below.
Google+ Page: This your Google+ Business Page as seen here.
Google+ Profile: This is your personal Google+ Profile page.
+1 BUTTON (Share)
- What It Does: The +1 Button lets visitors recommend your content on Google Search and share it on Google+.
- The Confusing Details: +1 Button does not direct individuals to your Google+ Page, rather it gives individuals the option to share the content on the specific website page with the individuals within circles on their Google+ Profile and to recommend the content to Google Search. Also, just because an individual +1ed content doesn’t necessarily mean they shared on their Google+ Profile page. Users have the option to +1 content and share or simply +1 it.
- How it shows up: When a user clicks the Google+ button, the content on the page shows up in their +1’s section on their Google+ as seen below.
The content also shows up in the individual’s Posts on their Google+ Profile.
It shows up in the user’s Stream as well for people in their circles to see.
It also shows up in search results for individuals that are logged into Google+ while using Google Search.
Please also take note of the fact that there is no share option included in a +1 button if it is clicked directly from a search engine results page (as seen below).
Where to Get it: Use a third party share plugin or get it directly from Google here.
GOOGLE+ PROFILE/PAGE BUTTON
This button will direct users to your Google+ Profile or Google+ Page. You can do this with a plain text link using the http://profiles.google.com/yourgooglepageID or your own G+ icon. You can also get it from Google here.
With all the various names, new features, buttons, plugins, and quite possibly Narguls running amok tying our earbuds in knots when we’re not looking, it isn’t any wonder you can end up a little upside down (I really need to cut it out with the magic and Hogwarts references. It isn’t doing wonders for my street cred.). My best advice is to be sure to do your research before adding any buttons or plugins to your business site.