Is it useful to add social sharing buttons to your site? Would it damage its image?
This are questions my clients often ask for their professional blog/website, here are my answers.

Social sharing

The simple answer

Just to be clear, I’m talking about sharing buttons, not about links to your social profiles here, they are generally couples with counters indicating the number of times a post has been shared.
If it’s for your company website I tend to answer no as it can harm your professional image. On a blog on the other side, it may help to spread your articles and I would then recommend it, choose something discrete preferably. It’s true for the blog section of your company website also.

What do big websites do?

Social sharing of big websites

  • The two newspapers – Huffington Post & Fox News – use a very visible social sharing block followed by a newsletter subscription.
  • Google uses the default sharing plugin of the Blogger service with of course Google+ first on its official blog.
  • TechCrunch chooses a little section on the top left of its articles. We can notice that it’s the only one in this panel to provide LinkedIn sharing button.
  • Car brands – BMW & Toyota – tend to use something more discrete, mainly BMW which just put a button on the bottom right corner, you need to put your mouse hover it to display the options.

What service to choose?

Choose Facebook if you’re engaged in B2C, you can reach a large audience on this network.
In B2B I find it less efficient but it depends mostly on the efforts you deploy in maintaining/developing your page there.

I don’t see any reason not to include Twitter to be honest. 🙂

Add LinkedIn: if:
– You are in B2C.
– Your articles are of value in a professional point of view.
You can simply ask yourself if your readers would benefit from sharing your content with their professional network, including their boss, business partners & maybe future employers.

Pinterest can be a good match to grow your audience if:
– Your articles have illustrations (photo or video) that are generally beautiful/original (like this blog for example) .
– They are helpful in some way.
Keep in mind that Pinterest is all about images, a bad article with an awesome illustration will get more clicks than a good one with a poor image, it’s not only on Pinterest for sure but it’s even truer there.

What about Google+?
Try if you care about SEO, it’s helping your efforts in this field more than other networks.
It’s changing slowly but right now I would say that Google+ is mostly used by techies & artists, you can build a great audience in this fields, it’s harder outside in my opinion though it’s not impossible.

Social Bookmarks:
I tend to say that they are secondary. If you have free space you can put them but I would add also that people actively using this services generally know how to share and do not really need anything to do so.
The main ones are Stumbeupon, Reddit, Digg, Delicious & Posterous.

What plugin to use on WordPress?

Digg Digg is developed by the Buffer App team, it creates a floating bar like the one you see on the left side of this page.

The name of Social Media Counters speaks for itself I suppose. With this plugin you can automatically add your favorites sharing buttons at the top and/or bottom of any posts & pages of your blog. Check below for an example.

Sociable is a mix of the two plugins above and gives you the choice between a floating bar or a block.