Help visitors to spread awareness in social media

social icons jpg

On-site sharing buttons can help to promote web pages in social networks. This buttons help users by making it easier to share the link but also remind and/or ask users to share. Most advocacy and news websites use them and they are usually a good idea for most campaigns.

Social media icons

Your campaign/organization doesn’t need to have profiles/accounts in social-networks to benefit from social media buttons. The only requirement to use them is to have a website.

Be careful

Social media buttons are great, but can be unhelpful and even dangerous in some contexts:

  1. Social media buttons can make pages slower, and in some cases less responsive to user input. If your audience has slow Internet connections or old/slow computers avoid using this buttons, specially the dynamic buttons that use JavaScript.
  2. In some cases they raise privacy concerns as the site hosting the scripts can know the IP addresses of anyone that has visited the page. They can also capture users cookies, so they could be used to give full access to information. In extreme cases the simple act of sharing your campaign in social networks can be dangerous for your supporters.
  3. Your campaign adversaries can easily find out the number of shares in a specific network, and react accordingly. Some social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, have this information available to anyone, even if the page doesn’t has sharing buttons.

How to choose relevant social networks

With so many social networks out there, which ones should you choose? The first rule is: don’t add too many buttons or users will be easily distracted and click less. Besides the page can load and react slowly .

The main criteria to choose network buttons is efficiency. Add the ones that can bring more visitors from the desired audiences.

Test the buttons by measuring the number of clics and remove those that don’t attract new visitors to your site. Don’t decide based on the size of the social network: just because most people have an account doesn’t mean the sharing button is useful for your site. Your users may not click on it and even if they do, that may not attract other visitors.

Types of buttons

There are basically two types of share buttons: static share links and dynamic buttons.

  • Dynamic buttons – Normally installed by embedding a JavaScript snippet on the page. Their main advantage is that they integrate well with the website and can display the number of shares close to the share button. Dynamic buttons can raise many security concerns, so don’t use it in any situation where user’s privacy and the site security are important.
  • Static share links – Typically image buttons with a link to the social network site. The user clics the image and a new browser window opens in the social network site. This method can be slightly safer if the implementation doesn’t use JavaScript and if the images in the button are hosted locally. Unlike dynamic buttons, static share links can be inserted in html emails, and used in most forum posts and blog comments.


In most cases you will not need to insert this buttons manually by copying the code provided by the social network. If you use a popular CMS like WordPress or Drupal, there are some plugins that will add social media sharing buttons to all, or to some of the site’s pages. Also some well crafted themes include this buttons by default or as an option.

If you need to add this buttons manually check the following links:

Add buttons manually

Meta tools

You can choose a “meta tool” to share in multiple networks at once. Two popular tools are Addthis and Sharethis. Sometimes meta tools are a better solution, but they can also bring new bugs and even more security concerns. A few years ago I used a tool that was adding popup windows in the background to other uses, but not to me. I’ve found out because a friend emailed me after visiting my site.

About Osvaldo

Digital activist, online producer and webmaster.
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