Social Follow vs Social Share Buttons and SEO

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Social media follow and share buttons can be confusing. I often get questions wondering how to differentiate between them, and when would I need or want one over the other. And, how do these two types of social media marketing functions help me with my marketing and SEO strategy?

It can be bewildering to sort these out, especially given the ever-increasing preponderance of social media platforms and sites! But in fact, sharing and following are not at all alike. Let’s clear up the difference between share and follow and help you understand which you need, when, and why.

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“Follow Us” is Just a Link

You can – and probably should – place “Follow Us” links on any Web property of yours anywhere. Follow-Us links can be on your website, or in your email for example, in the header or footer, or both. When a reader on your website clicks on a Facebook badge, for example, they will simply be taken to your Facebook page. Once there they can choose to become a fan (“Like” you) and follow all your posts. It’s another place they can find you. It’s particularly great for people who like your brand, and happen to spend a lot of time on Facebook. The same is true for other social media platforms, like Twitter or LinkedIn for example.

You should display a “Follow Us” icon and link prominently on your website for every social media platform where your company is established.  Make it a permanent part of your email newsletters so subscribers can click through to see your other published work on those platforms as well. Consider putting them on your business cards and pens. Spread the word. This will help you grow your fan base. So go make sure you have them, now!

“Share This” Asks Users to Promote Your Content

Sharing is a very different concept. A strong “Share This” call-to-action at the very top of your best content, asks your readers to tell THEIR friends and followers about your content. When they share a post or a page of yours, it appears in their social stream and their friends, who follow them, will see it. This is similar to the granddaddy of sharing, the well-known, “email this to a friend” function, and often that is still one of the options for sharing. But with the social media platforms, it’s not just one time – as long as your posts appear in their stream, their friends are likely to see them.  How often you appear in their stream is different for every platform and perhaps a subject for another day. But you should be making the effort to be current and relevant to the needs and interests of your customer and reader base with your content. Note that sharing via Facebook, Twitter, and the like, does not work in an email unless that email is archived on your site and that’s the link you offer for sharing.

Follows Broaden Your Audience, Sharing Expands the Reach of Your Content

Following broadens your audience as it expands the number of people you can connect to and the places where you can be found.  Sharing is a personal endorsement from a fan, to his or her private personal channels – this can be enormously powerful.

So be sure all your sites and emails connect to each other with “Follow Us” links so fans and prospects can find you wherever you are. And at the same time, ensure you have a strong call to action on your most compelling content – of course all your content should be compelling! – and encourage your visitors to share the content wealth!

How many likes do you have? Are you engaged with your fans and followers? Do these tips clarify things? Let us know how we can help!

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