Most people realize the importance of integrating social media into websites and blogs. By “integrating” I mean putting buttons on your website that make it easy for your visitors to share it with others.
For example, on Christian Web Trends we’ve got the Facebook Share and TweetMeme Retweet buttons at the top left of every post. We’ve also got the ShareThis plugin, which makes it easy for visitors to share or save a post to dozens of different social media and social bookmarking sites.
But, not all social media buttons are created equal.
In fact, lately as I’ve been reading blog posts and trying to share them on Twitter, I’ve been noticing quite a few problems.
1) Too cumbersome. Some social media tools – particularly older versions of the “all in one” sharing tools – are just hard to use. I recently came across a post I wanted to tweet. I scrolled down and clicked the “+ share” button. It opened up an AddThis.com page in another tab. Then to tweet, I had to scroll 4 screens down, find the Twitter icon, and click to open another page. And then click again to Tweet. Ugh!
2) URLs not shortened. This issue is specific tweeting blog posts because Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters and blogs often have really long URLs like http://blog.ourchurch.com/2010/10/21/practical-steps-to-getting-started-in-social-media-step-7-finally-incorporate/ It would be impossible to tweet the title and full URL of a post like the Tweet button didn’t shorten the URL.
3) Tweets missing your @username. I see this sometimes when people don’t setup their Twitter button. It can also be a problem with the all-in-one sharing tools. For example, I haven’t been able to get the ShareThis plug-in at the bottom of this blog to include our Twitter username yet.
5) Errors. Recently when attempting to tweet one blog post, I got the message, “An Error Was Encountered. The short_link field must contain a valid URL.” Errors like this can occur if the button or plugin is not configured correctly. They can also occur if you change the URL of a blog post after it’s been published.
6) No social media integration at all. At this point, if you don’t have any social media buttons on your website or blog, you’re really hindering your visitors from sharing your content, bringing you new visitors, and growing your audience.
The solution to all of these problems is pretty straight forward…
Test your social media buttons.
Have you tested the social media buttons on your site/blog? Is it suffering from any of these problems? What other social media integration problems have you seen?
(Edit 10/28/10: Items 1 & 5 were edited to remove links to examples)