Over the past few weeks social media buttons have been big news! For those of you not familiar with the term, social media buttons are those little icons that are all over blogs today encouraging visitors to do things like “Tweet” or “Like” or most recently to “+1”. For a guy like me who makes his living in part by knowing the answers to a question like “what do I need to have on my website?” this has been tremendous fun to watch (and to write about). It has also been a very busy time in terms of reading and researching to come determine solutions that will work best both for me and my clients, particularly in terms of social media button placement.

Mini Overview of Social Media Button Placement:

  • Include some social sharing buttons at the top of you blog posts. Positioning here is great because doing so provides validation of your post at the time people are consider whether they should read it. “look Ma, other people have already shared this post, we better read it!”)
  • Include some social sharing opportunities at the end of your posts. Clearly you have written a killer post and now other people are ready to share it too! Make it as easy for them to do so but placing social sharing opportunities right here, at the place where your visitors are most likely to do so.
  • Measure and Monitor. Make sure you are getting a good ROS – Return on Space – just like you might do in a retail environment, if a product is not moving off the shelves, perhaps it is time to discontinue, whereas if a product is doing great, perhaps it might make sense to provide more shelf space.

If you are looking for some specifics on what buttons to use don’t forget to read my post on the 8 Most Important Social Media Buttons for your website.

The next Facebook killer is always “around the corner” but for most of us, our business deals with today and not the future so the parlor games don’t mean as much – in fact we just want the low down skinny on what exactly we should be doing on our blogs in order to get the best ROI (or maybe a better term might be ROS – “Return on Space”). Hopefully this post will help answer that for you!

Social media sites and social sharing platforms are all great, and they all have the potential to deliver huge value, but it is important to make sure that beyond social media button placement, each of the buttons you include on your site are relevant to your audience and also is able to give you a good return based on the space you are giving it. Best web practices say that content placed up near the top (“above the fold”) is going to do best – no secret there… and best social media practices also recommend placing your social sharing opportunities up near the top of the page. I also recommend creating a second social sharing opportunity near the bottom of each article. As you can see, I deploy these practices here on this site too.

Key Factors to Pay Attention To:

But the question still remains, which buttons should you include? What’s been interesting is that each of these services has begun to get extremely aggressive in terms of promoting their own sharing capacities, and the ultimate winner in all this will of course be YOU. But don’t worry, the companies all make out just fine too – in fact, going back to the “best social media practices” you’ll notice that if you follow those very practices you are in effect ceding much of your best virtual real estate to these companies – none of which you own.

Also to be considered, each social media service is distinct and has managed to carve out its own unique place in the universe. Depending on your business you’ll want to make sure that the social media buttons that you elect to feature makes sense for your own business. For more on that stay tuned as I have a rather detailed follow up post already in the works which breaks down the bigger players in the social sharing space along with some insights into why you might elect to include a specific service on your own site.

In business ROI is one of the primary methods used to evaluate performance, and yes, with social media ROI is certainly a consideration, but with regard to this specific dialogue I would suggest you be even more specific and instead focus already mentioned – ROS – “Return on Space”, as again you are literally providing some of the most valuable real-estate on your site to these social networks – you want to make sure that as you are giving these companies your crucial space (investing in them with your virtual real estate) that these companies are giving you a good return. A good analogy for this might be applied to a clothing store where you might have a t-shirt that is really flying off the shelves (you’ll double up on that one and provide it with more shelf space) or you might have a brand that is just launching with some great marketing (you’ll keep it on your shelves but you’ll be cautious about buying more) and of course the brand this is just collecting lint (that is one that you will stop carrying).

Also, with regard to the return, you should be measured on an evolving and cumulative basis, but none-the-less, placing your social sharing buttons where ever you ultimately elect to do so should not be a set it and forget it scenario. In general with social you should be very mindful of the community nature of these networks and you should allow some time for them to grow (and that applies to sharing too!)

Finally, don’t be afraid to be bold and to experiment a bit with these services and also with how you integrate them into your own site. If will take some time, some refinement and of course some review of the results before you have it just right. And once you get it just right, don’t worry… as we said at the top, the next “Facebook Killer” is right around the corner and that company is eagerly awaiting a place in your virtual mix too!

Hope you found this post to be of help. If so please don’t be shy about “sharing” it. 🙂