Last week Facebook announced on the Developer blog that it would be rolling out new designs for the infamous Like and Share buttons.
According to Facebook, these buttons are “viewed over 22bn times daily across more than 7.5m websites”.
Having active social sharing buttons on your website is most definitely a simple, yet effective way of allowing users to share your content, which in turn can result in sometimes significant amounts of traffic returning to those pages from people within their networks.
And it’s highly likely for most website owners that it will be the Like or Share button that is getting the most shares and driving the most traffic back. A recent study by Shareaholic of 200,000 publishers revealed that referral traffic from Facebook has grown by 58.81% from September 2012 to 2013.
So it’s not much of a surprise that Facebook has looked to change them, but what are the differences and how can they used?
What do they do?
Outside of the digital industry it could be argued that users may not actually be aware of the difference between the Like and Share buttons – in essence when you ‘like’ something you are sharing it to your timeline anyway.
Here’s what the main differences are:
- Like. This ‘likes’ webpages and shares them onto a user’s timeline.
- Share. This is more advanced and allows users to add some personalised text to the links before they are shared on their timeline, a friend’s timeline, in a Facebook group, on a page they manage or in a private message
The key changes are in the actual look of the buttons. Both designs are now a royal blue with white font, instead of the classic blue font and blue outline.
They stand-out much more and you could argue that this is intentional from Facebook to get even more people clicking.
There are four main variations of layout for both of these buttons:
- Single button, no number count.
- Single button with number count to the right.
- Single button with number count above.
- Both buttons together (with the options above).
The new designs are available now to implement, but if you already have these on your site then you will notice them change over the next few weeks.
What about ‘Send’?
Many websites have chosen to display a ‘Send’ button in addition to the Like button on their content pages. This useful feature allowed users the ability to privately send content to one or more friends, either via a Facebook message, to an email address or share it with a Facebook group.
This is particularly useful on websites that have published content users may not want to share publicly on their Facebook timelines, for example a job that they have found on a recruitment site they want to ‘bookmark’ for themselves or perhaps a house for sale on a property site they want to send their partner.
As part of the announced changes to the Share button, Facebook have stated that this will now replace the Send button and will automatically be upgraded when ready.
This does however mean that there will no longer be the ability to ‘send’ the link to more than one friend or to an email address.
Facebook sharing checklist
At the same time, Facebook has provided developers with a ‘Sharing Checklist’; a seven point guide about how to optimise your website or app to increase traffic. Although posted on the Developer blog, this information is also really useful for marketers looking for best practice.
Here’s a summary of the seven points to check:
- Display both the Like and Share buttons together. This echoes all of the above information, but basically gives your users a choice of how to share.
- Use images that are at least 1200×620 pixels. This means that pictures will look much better when displayed on high resolution devices. A minimum suggested size for images is 600×315 pixels in order for them to display in the large format. Any smaller and it will display, but not have the same impact.
- Use proper Open Graph tags. These HTML tags mean that you can control how content displays in previews when it is shared. There are a number of basic tags that should be used, plus optional tags can be chosen as well which can improve distribution and engagement.
- Use the Open Graph debug tool. This handy tool quickly scans your site URLs and shows how they are seen by the Facebook crawler. Any errors are spotted and can then be fixed more easily.
- Use Insights to uncover popular content. Facebook’s page Insights tool allows you to see which of your posted stories are popular
- Use built-in translation support. This is great for sites that are multi-lingual, as will translate the text on the plugins for the local language
It’s well worth going through this checklist, plus ensuring the placement of your buttons is optimal – don’t hide them away at the bottom of your content, place them near the titles and you will notice an increase in shares made.
Take advantage of the potential benefits that Facebook sharing can deliver your site by embracing yourself with these changes, plus ensure you’re looking out for anymore that come in the future.