Ideally, you want to give your readers an easy way to follow you on social media, and an easy way to share your content on social channels.
Social Follow Buttons
Social Follow buttons are usually placed in the site’s header, sidebar or footer. When readers click your Twitter, Facebook, or other network icon, their browser will display your account, where they can like or follow.
Encouraging readers to follow you on social media is a great way to make sure they see your future content and updates, as long as you always remember to promote your blog posts to your social channels.
Some themes include social follow buttons, or offer a plugin. StudioPress, for example, has the Simple Social Icons plugin (which I’m using for Blogging Brute). If you’re using the Jetpack plugin, they offer a set of social follow icons as well. Or search at http://wordpress.org/plugins for a social follow icon set you like.
Social Sharing Buttons
Social Share buttons, however, belong in or near an article — above, below, or alongside. When someone reads your content, make it easy for them to share it by placing the share buttons where they’re easy to spot. Some even float alongside, moving as the reader scrolls down the page, so they’re always in view.
The two options I recommend are Social Warfare (seen here on this blog) and Shareaholic. Both give you options not only for where to place your sharing buttons and which buttons to offer, but also colors and button style. You might not think it matters, but having social sharing buttons that coordinate with your site actually does help with the overall impression your site gives, rather than having a garish button slapped within the middle of a page that clearly was added to your site like a rude bumper sticker.
Open Graph Tags
One of the reasons I use and recommend Social Warfare is due to the importance of Open Graph tags. Open Graph is the protocol that many organizations agreed to follow for understanding web content. Open Graph includes items like Title and Description and Image.
When you specify those items as part of your post creation and publishing process, you ensure that shares of your content to social networks like Facebook and Twitter look correct.
You can see an example of a shared Facebook post here that includes the image, title and description I chose:
Other Sharing Techniques
Having share buttons and designating Open Graph tags will help encourage your readers to share your content, and those shares will look as good as possible in network feeds. But what else can you do?
- Include Click To Tweet buttons once in a while to give readers something meaningful to share to Twitter, such as a quote or statistic.
- Include multiple images throughout your content which readers can choose to share, particularly quote graphics.
- Embed social posts within the content itself that readers can engage with, particularly Facebook Live videos or YouTube videos.
- Ask readers to share the content with their audience.
- Quote influencers within your content and tag them in your initial shares so that they’re aware of the mention and may share themselves.
- Participate in social media conversations around related topics and look for opportunities to share links to your articles in context.
A Word On Social Media Widgets
You’ve probably seen these before: widgets in a blog sidebar or footer that share that author’s latest tweets or Instagram images or something along those lines.
Don’t do that.
While it’s OK to give readers a linked icon to follow you on Twitter or Facebook if they so choose, keep in mind that at this very point, they’re already on your blog property. That’s where you want them to stay!
Any activity that distracts them from your funnel or, worse, takes them off your platform entirely, is to be avoided like the plague.
Typically those social media widgets serve as a distraction from the content being delivered the desired call to action or next step. And if a tweet or image really catches a reader’s eye, they just might click over to that and get lost in a sea of social media updates and notifications.
If you keep the end goal in mind, which is to use social media to foster relationships and raise awareness of your blog and content, ultimately driving traffic from social media to the blog (not the reverse), you’ll be OK.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to end of the WordPress Basics for Bloggers Series! If you came upon this article directly, it’s actually the 10th and final article in the series, so you’re encouraged to go back to beginning to get a full understanding of how WordPress works and everything it can do as a platform to support your blog.
If you’re comfortable with WordPress and you’re ready to start building your new blogging income, your next step is to validate your blogging idea and create a plan using the Blogging Startup Planner.
WordPress Basics for Bloggers Series
- What Is WordPress
- How To Get Started With WordPress
- How To Use The WordPress Dashboard
- How To Use WordPress Themes
- How To Use WordPress Plugins
- Understanding WordPress Site Security
- WordPress Blogs: It’s All About The Content
- How To Optimize WordPress For Speed
- How To Prepare Your Blog To Build Traffic From Search
- How To Prepare Your Blog To Build Traffic From Social (you are here)
Next Steps For New Bloggers
- Validate your blogging idea and create a plan using the Blogging Startup Planner.
- Follow the steps outlined in How To Start A Blog: The Ultimate Free Guide.
- Use the Ultimate Blogging Planner to plan your blog content and strategy for the coming year.
- Use the Blog Promotion Checklist to get maximum visibility to your blog posts each and every time.