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I’ve recently revived my sadly neglected relationship with Google Reader, and in doing so I’ve been surprised by how many websites or blogs are not using share buttons – or not making them easy to find if they are actually there.

If you are writing content for a website or blog, then generally it’s so that others will read it – right? So if that’s the case, make it easy for your content to be shared and your readership will increase. Put any hurdles in the way and it runs the risk of being abandoned in favour of something shinier – which we all know pops up every 2 seconds.

Maybe it’s a similar situation as the plumber always having leaky taps at home, but if you are writing, commenting on or are known for avidly embracing technology then there really is no excuse not to make sure your own website scrubs up!

As a reader (and sharer) of online content these are the tips I would recommend:

  1. Make your share buttons easy to find. Typically this is at the top of the post or at the end of the post (so readers can choose to share it after they have read it). Or even both – just don’t make us hunt around to find it. Share icons that are in different colours from the common standard are also easy to overlook (so why do it?).
  2. Use the share buttons from each social platform – here are the links to the instructions on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google (if you want to back the +1 horse). Please don’t just open up Twitter in a new tab – you are making it too hard for me to copy your link, add in the title and find your Twitter handle. I’m just not going to do it (probably). LinkedIn has lifted its game with a share plugin now making it easier to share content but its surprising how low the adoption rate appears to be so far. A great opportunity to get in early and get your content swirling round LinkedIn.
  3. Include your Twitter username in the prefill tweet copy so we don’t have to leave the Tweet button to work out what it is in order to correctly attribute the content to you. This also means you will know who has shared your content via Twitter and non followers will be offered the opportunity to follow you after they have shared your content.
Twitter (and others) will walk you through the process to customise your share buttons, including prefill text, URLs to display, count options and button sizes/shapes. Its easy – honestly it is! – if I can do it then anyone can, even a monkey.
Twitter Share Button

Facebook Social Plugins
LinkedIn Share Button

Twitter also recently released its Follow button allowing readers to follow you on Twitter from your website or blog with just one click. Again its surprising how few websites haven’t taken the couple of minutes needed to update this button. 
Anything that keeps your readers on your site and makes it easy and simple for them to follow you is a no brainer. Why do you spend hours writing and researching posts if you have neglected the basics on your blog? 
And the best bit is that it only takes a few minutes to do. If you already have these buttons on your blog, why don’t you ask one of your readers for their opinion on how they are placed and whether they are easy to find and use? You might be surprised.