social-sharing-and-followYour WordPress website is a superb engine for presenting your online content in a way that Google understands.

But adding social sharing buttons can make your site even more popular by letting visitors share your content through THEIR contacts.

However, not all social sharing buttons are equal, nor do they do the same job.

In a workshop last week, I quickly discovered that I had been talking at cross purposes with a participant who was complaining that his webmaster had not set his Facebook and Twitter buttons up correctly.

I started to explain how it is quite simple to connect a Facebook icon to a Facebook business page, when I asked for his web address.

As it turns out, he didn’t have any social icons at all, instead he had social sharing buttons on his website, which are NOT meant to be connected to HIS Facebook Page at all.

So, today I will explain the difference between social sharing and social follow buttons and then arm you with the terminology that relates to the small group of sharing icons found on most small business websites.

Sharing and following are not the same, do you follow?

There are two common types of icons your webmaster can apply to your WordPress website.

One sort tends to be placed at the end of every page and blog post, like at the bottom of this article, with the main social networks represented.

These buttons are actually called Social SHARING buttons.

They are NOT linked to YOUR social network pages.

Instead, a visitor who wants to share a link to your article in Facebook, Twitter, etc, is able to click these buttons, write a short summary as to why they are sharing the content and then share the link to the particular page or article within their own account.

For example, if you were tempted to share this article (hint) to YOUR friends in YOUR Facebook account, click the Facebook button immediately below this article.

It will open up Facebook or ask you to log in if you are not logged in. It will then populate a status update box with a link to this article.

You have the option of adding a comment and then clicking Share or Publish.

YOUR friends in Facebook will then see an entry from you with a link back to this article.

The other type of social media button you might find on your website will most likely be a FOLLOW button.

These buttons are simply a link from your website to your Business Page on Facebook or account on Twitter, etc.

For example, if you wanted to FOLLOW Baker Marketing in one of your favourite social networks, you could scroll right down to the very bottom of our website, in the footer area, and click one of the four icons there for LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

Unlike the social sharing buttons, these will take visitors to OUR accounts in those places where you can decide to FOLLOW us so that you get to see our updates there.

Both of these button types have different uses.

To share, or not to share, do you follow?

There will be different reasons for each business as to whether they choose one style of social button, both styles, or none.

On the whole, most businesses benefit from the social SHARING buttons.

Even if they are not active in social networks, social sharing buttons still let businesses have their content shared to new audiences in various social networks by their website visitors.

The FOLLOW buttons are useful for pointing to social network accounts where you ARE already active.

So, the gentlemen in the workshop was really wrongly accusing his webmaster for not connecting the social SHARING buttons to the business’ own social networks because that is NOT what they are designed to do.

What he really wanted were FOLLOW buttons to allow visitors to connect with him in social networks.

You say ‘share, I say ‘pin’

And now to the concise glossary of social sharing terms.

Here are the most common social networks and the appropriate verbs to use when referring to social SHARING buttons.

  • Facebook – SHARE (for sharing links to internal or external content on Facebook)
  • Facebook – LIKE (for adding your vote of interest or support in content on Facebook)
  • Twitter – TWEET (sharing a tweet with a link to external content)
  • Twitter – RETWEET (sharing a link to content already on Twitter)
  • Google+ – Plus One (for publicly recommending an article)
  • Google+ – SHARE (for sharing the link to an article)
  • LinkedIN – SHARE (for sharing content on LinkedIN)
  • Pinterest – PIN (for sharing an image from the web within your Pin board on Pinterest)

I hope this has been a helpful article for clarifying the differences between those social buttons. Feel free to test this out, below 😉

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