If you spend much time in the blogosphere, perhaps you’ve noticed the recent proliferation of Facebook “like” buttons, and similar social media plugins on blogs.
Back in 2005, it was all about having a line of “feed reader” buttons on your blog. Then around 2007 or so, bookmarking on del.icio.us and a slew of others was all the rage. Then 2009 was the year of “tweet this” buttons, and 2010 has been the year of FB “like” buttons.
The other thing we’ve seen a lot of this year is Facebook-integrated commenting on blogs and product launch pages.
My first question is…
Are social media “sharing” plugins effective?
Between my own experience, and a fair amount of research that I did before writing this post, I’d say that it’s overrated.
Clearly, social media sharing CAN be effective. We’ve all heard stories of bloggers being rocketed from obscurity to temporary superstardom as a result of a “digg this” button, or other viral mechanism. However, those examples are few and far-between compared to the countless bloggers who are putting these buttons on their blogs.
In other words, adding social media sharing capability to your blog is not inherently going to result in more web traffic to your site. Those plugins can help, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. Here are some other pieces that will increase your chances of success:
1) You have to start with compelling content that people will WANT to share. This is critical, and you can’t fake it. Sure, you could game the system by using robots or overseas workers with fake accounts to post your content to social media sites. But that won’t result in meaningful or profitable traffic. The kind of traffic you desire is the kind that results from REAL people sharing your content and giving their vote of confidence.
2) You have to have a social media-using audience. Of course it helps that most of the world is now on Facebook. But still, not all those people are interested in sharing your stuff in their Facebook feeds. Here is a good article about Facebook “like” buttons, as they relate to your audience demographics and the nature of your content: Article on Problogger.net
3) Test it, just like you should test everything else on your site. For example, some bloggers have found the buttons get clicked more at the top of the post vs. the bottom. You can test sizes, location, various social sites, etc. It’s obvious that some social sites just aren’t getting used much anymore. I just checked, and I’ve received 66 bookmarks in del.icio.us from my readers over the past few years, yet it’s not unusual to get that many links from twitter or Facebook from a single post.
That brings me to my next question…
Is Facebook the most important social site to integrate with your blog?
From everything I’ve seen lately, the answer is yes.
The statistics are staggering. Facebook is sucking the life out of Internet users around the globe, and sucking traffic away from Google.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of those “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” situations. I’m not a big Facebook fan… in fact I deleted my personal account a few months ago. But I am a marketer, and if everyone is logged into Facebook all day long anyway, I might as well use that to my advantage.
So the question becomes…
How should I integrate Facebook with my blog?
A quick search on WordPress.org reveals 573 Facebook-related WordPress plugins.
Among those plugins are many “like” buttons, “share” buttons, comment plugins, syndication tools, photo galleries, and more.
For new blogs without much following, or if you’re struggling to get comments and interaction, I do recommend integrating Facebook commenting. Facebook users are accustomed to commenting on their friend’s posts, pics, etc, in Facebook. So when they see that same format on your blog, it makes it easy. The fact that they’re already logged into their Facebook account makes it even easier.
In addition to the ease of use for your readers, it also gives you the opportunity to get extra traffic. When a Facebook user comments on your blog, the comment ALSO appears in their Facebook feed, so all their friends can see it (and respond to it, like it, etc.). It’s a great model of viral marketing.
These factors are the reason why Facebook comments have been working so well for product launches lately (during the pre-launch phase). They allow the creation of a lot of perceived social proof, combined with a viral component.
Here are some cool-looking FB comment plugins:
If you want to make your own comment box, you can use Facebook’s code:
If you do decide to enable Facebook commenting on your blog, I recommend using a plugin that still writes the comments to your WordPress database (out of the above, I know Disqus does this… not sure about the others). This way you still retain “ownership” of the conversation, and if you remove the plugin all your comments won’t disappear.
That having been said, there are some reasons you might not want to use Facebook commenting on your blog. In my case, I already have a loyal readership, and I prefer to keep the conversation inside the gates of my own community. Some may call it anti-social, but for me it’s simply a business decision.
Another reason you might not want to use Facebook comments on your blog is that it may “cheapen” the perception of your blog. While Facebook would love for all of us to blur the line between Facebook and the rest of the web, I’d rather keep my website a “destination” rather than just a piece of the conversation.
Maybe I’m being a snob about the commenting, and maybe I’ll change my mind in the future. We’ll see.
In the mean time, I’d still like to tap into the viral nature of Facebook to gain additional readership. So while I’ve opted not to use Facebook comments, I’ve added a Facebook “like” button to the bottom of my posts.
For the past few years, I’ve used the ShareThis plugin. The ShareThis plugin (along with other aggregators of social sharing, such as AddThis), was a great idea. It integrated many social sharing options into one easy button.
However, it didn’t seem to get used very much. So I’ve replaced my ShareThis button with a simple Facebook “like” button. There are literally hundreds of Facebook “like” plugins, so this isn’t a recommendation per-se, but the one that I’m using for now is called Simple Facebook Like Widget
What do you think?
What are your thoughts about Facebook and other social media plugins for WordPress, which ones do you use, and what has been your experience with them?
Also, would you prefer that I integrate Facebook commenting on this blog? I’m open to a change of heart.
Please post your comments below using my old-fashioned WordPress comment form. Oh, and be sure to hit the FB “like” button if you found this to be an interesting post 😉
Have a great day!