Sharing Buttons: Breeding Like Rabbits

In the past two days, Twitter has announced a Follow Button and Google announced a +1 Button. These come shortly after Facebook’s announcement of the Send Button in April. The 3 new buttons, of course, can be added on to the Facebook Like, Facebook Share, Google Buzz, Twitter Tweet, Stumbleupon, Digg, etc, etc, etc. They truly are breeding like Rabbits.

So what’s the answer? Should you just cover your website in buttons?

A Button Overview


+1 Button. Google’s +1 allows people to recommend your site for the search results. When people search on Google, the number of +1’s a page has may appear next to the result, and if friends have +1’d it, their name may appear. These could also start to affect search rankings.

Google Buzz. A part of Google’s barely functioning social network, I expect these will largely disappear with the emergence of +1.


The Tweet button. Twitter’s traditional button, this allows people to easily Tweet about the page on which the button is placed. You can specify a Twitter account to recommend following when a tweet is made.

The Follow Button. Twitter’s new button, allows you to specify a Twitter account which will be followed. Can display your follower count.

Twitter also has a widget which will display your recent tweets.


Sorry if the buttons don’t show – there’s some kind of a conflict when showing this many buttons that makes them disappear intermittently.

Facebook Like Button
. This button allows viewers to like your URL (can also be set to recommend, which does the same thing). There are a bunch of options, but all have the same effect – the Liked page will show up in the news feeds of the reader’s friends. The button can also be set to show any friends that have already liked the page when it is viewed. Bing is also using this data now, and it can be displayed in search results.

Facebook Send Button. The Send button can be implemented on its own, or as an addition to the Like button. It allows readers to selectively send the content to particular friends.

Facebook Share button. This older button works like the Like button, but allows users to add a comment to the story they are sharing. Facebook is phasing it out in favor of Like, so I’m not showing it here.

Other Facebook plugins. Facebook also has plugins to show your wall activity, display a box with people that have liked your page, and more.


LinkedIn Share Button. The LinkedIn button allows people to share your content on the social network, both to their contacts and groups.

Everyone Else

Digg Button, Stumbleupon Button, Reddit Button, etc. All of these buttons, and those of many more sites, are pretty simple – they let you add a vote or bookmark for the page you are on.

Which to Use

So which buttons should be on your business website? To start, I would drop all the buttons from the “Everything Else” category, unless you are very popular at a particular site. A large percentage of the users from these sites are totally capable of voting for your page without a button – and unless the sites are sending many users, a button is a waste of space.

The other options are more interesting:

  • Google’s +1 is new, but could prove very powerful, as search is a source for much website traffic. The downside is that we don’t yet know how inclined people will be to actually hit the button. It’s one to watch, and possibly try if you can add it easily. Their Buzz buttons have never been popular, and I would consider them worthless at this point.
  • Facebook’s like/send buttons are great for any page people may want to share with friends. One Like can be seen by hundreds of people in Facebook’s system, and they’ll all know that one of their friends thought your site was worthwhile. As to the other Facebook options, the Like boxes, especially with faces, can show how popular your site is, and encourage people to like your page. It’s worth considering.
  • Twitter’s Tweet button will help some sites. Twitter still has far fewer users than Facebook, but many active Twitter users share sites constantly. I would recommend trying it to see if it’s popular. Their Follow button is a good option if you have an active Twitter account. Once again, it can provide some social proof and encourage followers.
  • The LinkedIn button is a good choice for B2B companies. Being a professional network, stories that are interesting to businesses are likely to be the most shared. I’ve seen strong results with the button on this site.

There are too many buttons out there for any website to use them all. There are options, such as ShareThis, which will allow sharing on a variety of networks – but these are not quite as simple for users as a single click on the Like button.

Once you’ve decided which buttons to use, you need to insert them. Follow the links above to find instructions for each button. You can also simplify things with services like ShareThis. Or, if using WordPress, there are piles of plugins that insert sharing buttons. On this site I use the excellent DiggDigg plugin.

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