Social Media Buttons 101: Following and +1’ing
June 3rd, 2011 by Sandi Moxley
Hi friends. Twitter recently announced the instant “Follow” button. Paste it onto any website to enable Tweeters to instantly follow you without having to go find your profile on Twitter… Do you “like” this? Will you “share” it? Will you be the “+1” to recommend it to your friends? How about following the “Follow” button? If any of these questions sounded Greek to you, or if you’re just looking to evaluate your button strategy, then examine the following for a greater understanding of the top social media buttons.
How It All Started
Remember back when there was just the Facebook Like button? The Like button started exclusively inside Facebook, and soon was being used as a free-for-all to “like” any and everything possible. Among many other likes on my personal Facebook page, I officially “like” that noise your tummy makes at inappropriate times. Don’t get it twisted though; this “like” button goes way beyond novel expressions.
One day, the “Like” button packed its bags and bravely ventured outside of Facebook to take residence on websites everywhere. Great success was found.
Search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo are constantly upgrading the ways that they filter results for internet search queries. As the Internet has become more social, so have the search engines. It is safe to say that social engagement has a sizable impact on search engine optimization. Search engines look at your webpage and assess how socially involved (and socially accepted) your page is, and rank it accordingly. Social media buttons have become a great, quantitative way for search engines to assess your legitimacy. Surely if your website or product was not legitimate, no one would “like” it.
Now we are in the midst of an all-out battle of social real estate war, as each competitor’s button is ferociously vying for a little bit of space on your webpage. It’s hard to guess which button will come out on top. Many people wonder if it’s it even possible to usurp the throne of the Like button. Sure the Like button is stiff competition, but other evolving social media buttons have some tricks up their own sleeves.
Facebook’s “Like”, “Share” & “Send” Buttons
The Facebook Share button is a natural extension of the Like button. Like and Share are both easy ways to share content with others. Both Likes and Shares will show up in your friends’ feeds, but liking something adds you to the list of all the people who like that same thing (as in, 1,283 people “like” Ionic Media’s Facebook page). Sharing is a one-time action that doesn’t add your name into a group of all the people who’ve also shared the same thing… or so they say. Rumor has it that search engines place more value on the number of shares than on the number of likes. This makes sense because it seems comparatively easier to like something, whereas sharing something with all of our friends takes a little more forethought.
The Send button, recently released a few months ago, is the ultra private way to share content. A Send is essentially a private message to one or selected people. Although it doesn’t have the same massive reach as the Like or Share, it allows Facebook users a more intimate way to reach out and send content to a very relevant person (or persons). As of yet, it is unclear what value search engines place on the Send button.
Twitter’s “Tweet” & “Follow” Buttons
For all intents and purposes, the Tweet button is Twitter’s version of the Facebook Share button. You see something that interests you while you’re cruisin’ the Internet, you press the corresponding Tweet button, and presto: you have just shared that content with all your Twitter followers without even going to Twitter.
The long awaited Follow button (seriously, I’ve been wondering why it hasn’t come sooner) allows you to instantly follow that person/entity without having to find their profile on Twitter. This was a smart move on Twitter’s behalf; with all the hoopla about Google and Facebook buttons, Twitter was starting to get lost in the mix of other buttons. A Follow button could theoretically be yet another strong metric used in search engine ranking.
Just like the “Like” button, the recently debuted +1 button can be integrated into virtually any webpage. Although fairly similar, the +1 button has this one little thing that Twitter and Facebook don’t: Google. In addition to being placed on any desired webpage, the +1 button will be the only button that populates in Google search engine results.
Google will be keeping track of the number of +1s for any particular product or page. When you search for something in Google, you will now see how many people +1’d each result which helps the surfer determine the legitimacy of each result. Eventually a Google search will feature the results that have acquired +1’s made by people within your social circle, like a pseudo digital recommendation. Imagine that! In addition to helping the user, the real magic is that the total number of +1 recommendations for any given webpage will feed into the organic search algorithm (a major bolster for SEO!).
So which buttons should you use? I am guessing that the number of social media buttons is only going to increase, while the space to place them is decreasing. When it comes to implementing the most valuable buttons, it truly varies depending on what exactly it is that you’re trying to promote. Think about the key areas and metrics of success for your business. The key takeaway from this is to remember that social media buttons aren’t just for social media; they’re an integral part of search engine optimization and they absolutely belong on your website. Don’t wait around and be the last one to Follow this suggestion.