Making content sharing easier

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.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Armin

    I still don’t really get the point of these things and all the bling you find in a lot of blogs. Funnily enough you state the reason for this yourself:

    I suspect that 98% of those who use any of these services have a bookmarklet, Firefox plugin or similar tool installed in their browser anyway. Meaning they have no need for any of these links and most likely won’t use them anyway as they will use the tools they are familiar with.

    So what are these tools really good for? Apart from free advertising and possibly Google juice for all these “social” services.

    Funnily enough I’ve noticed that I’m getting more “stumbles” (or whatever they call them) on pages where I haven’t got a link to StumbleUpon than to the (few) pages where I’ve got them.

    Time to remove the clutter?

  2. neville

    Exactly, Armin: remove the clutter.

    I see it as a convenience to visitors on the one hand, and as providing some useful information to the blogger on the other hand. Share This gives you some useful stats information on, eg, which social web services people use to share your content.

  3. Laura Thomas

    Just catching up on my feeds and saw this post Neville. I thought it might be interesting to share how we’ve had some similar conversations here within Dell. We had added some bookmark buttons to our About Dell section of the site, but they were a bit unwieldy and limited in number. How to offer more options (which I do think people want) without too much bling? We looked at some services like Add This and Share This, but ran into conflicts with the proprietary application that runs Dell.com. So, we built something in-house that I think looks somewhat similar to the solution you have chosen. It’s now live on our main About Dell pages and will soon be populated across more & more areas of Dell.com.

    As to why I think these are useful and people still want them? I use my on frame of reference. Not until recently did I actually add buttons in my FF browser for del.icio.us and TwitThis, although I’d added StumbleUpon to my IE many moons ago. And, I think I’m slightly ahead of most of the online crowd. I often found myself browsing in one when I wanted to link to a service I didn’t have loaded in that one, and it was rather inconvenient to switch back & forth.

    How much easier to have the buttons right there on the page I’m looking at! Hopefully, we’ve made it easier for our Dell.com visitors to share now, too.

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