Making content sharing easier

sharethis Making it easy for readers of your content to share that content with others is one of the ways that you can make your blog or RSS feed ever more useful to those readers.

Plus it benefits you, the content creator, as your content gets wider visibility.

For quite a while, I’ve been using FeedBurner’s FeedFlare service which adds a number of links to my blog posts and RSS feeds, like this:

feedflareblog

That was ok, I thought, although it seemed kinda flaky at times on blog posts. Sometimes the links would disappear for no reason I could ever figure out.

There’s also the often-lengthy row of pretty icons approach quite a few sites take, like this:

shareandenjoy

I’ve always found that approach distracting. Too much bling, it seems to me. Plus I never knew what half the icons meant.

So I’ve resisted doing anything other than the feed flares which, as text links only and in the same typeface as the content, didn’t distract that much from that content.

Yet I’ve sometimes thought that maybe the links I have weren’t the links people would find useful. Or, rather, weren’t enough of those links.

But I didn’t want the bling approach.

I’ve found what I think is the most useful solution in the form of ShareThis, a WordPress plugin developed by Alex King that adds this unobtrusive little graphic and link at the foot of each blog post:

sharethisfooter

So if you want to let someone else know about something you’re reading, clicking on the link gives you this little popup:

sharethispopup

Then you can choose which part of the social web (nice phrase) you want to share the content with.

If you click on the ‘Send’ tab, you get a form where you can enter email info to send via that means, or by SMS or instant message.

Very flexible.

If you use a platform other than WordPress, such as Blogger or TypePad, there are also plugins for those.

The first thing I noticed with Share This was that of all the social web elements available to include in the choices you offer, there’s a now-glaring omission – Twitter isn’t one of the choices.

I often use the Twit This! browser bookmarklet; with one click, it’s very useful to flag up to your Twitter community something you’re reading right at that moment. The easier it is to do that, the more likely you will.

There is a Twit This! plugin for WordPress that adds a ‘Twit This’ link at the foot of each post. I don’t like it, frankly: too much in-your-face. Plus it defeats the objective of why I’ve added Share This.

Maybe ShareThis can include that somehow, or something like it.

There’s more to ShareThis than purely a link with a pretty popup, though. Stats, for instance. Details on the website.

I like ShareThis and I hope you find it useful. Do tell me if you don’t. Or if you do.