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What Should You Look For in a Social Sharing Tool?

By Michael Olson | Posted on December 17, 2010

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As we have discussed on this blog, it is essential for websites to facilitate content sharing in order to grow brand awareness, reach new audiences on social networks, and drive increased referral traffic. With so many tools to choose from, how do you know which social sharing tool is optimal for your site?

social sharing widget kodak thumbnail

We’ve put together a checklist of key criteria to consider in your evaluation and best practices for social sharing tools.

  1. Allow sharing to multiple networks simultaneously: Several sharing tools only allow users to share content from a site with one social network at a time. This creates barriers to sharing across multiple networks and decreases the likelihood that users will broadcast your site content to the largest possible audience. Your social sharing tool should allow users to share content from your site to all of their social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Yahoo!, for example) simultaneously, with one click.
  2. Access user profile and metadata at the point of sharing: Most sharing tools only provide an anonymous view of who is sharing content from a site. But as digital marketers become more sophisticated about leveraging social profile data for targeting and personalization, your sharing feature should enable the capture of user profile data. Tools like Janrain Engage that leverage protocols such as OAuth during the sharing process make this possible by allowing your users to give access to their social network profile data in one click.
  3. Enable multiple types of user activity and content to be shared: Plenty of sharing tools on the web are configured to share static links to a page. These implementations are often triggered when a user clicks a “share” button on a page. This is great for your most proactive users that will go out of their way to share links from a site with their social network of choice. But how do you facilitate sharing for the majority of users on your site? Activity-based social sharing allows your site to trigger sharing based on any type of user activity, such as:
    1. Posting a comment on an article or video
    2. Purchasing a product
    3. Reaching a high score or milestone in online gaming
    4. Immediately upon a page load
    5. Simply clicking a “share” button

    This versatility exposes your sharing tool to a larger percentage of users on your site, and results in increased usage. Quite simply, by making more content and activities on your site shareable, you can syndicate more of your content across the social networks and generate greater referral traffic.

  4. Keep the sharing experience on-site: Many sharing tools require a browser redirect to the destination site as part of the sharing process. This poses a barrier to sharing and introduces the possibility that users might click away from your site altogether during the process. The best practice supported by Janrain Engage allows users to share content directly from your site either from an embedded checkbox and button on your page (see slide 6 in the presentation below) or a JavaScript lightbox overlay (see slide 7 for an example). Increase utilization of your sharing feature by keeping the entire experience on your site.

The presentation below takes a closer look at these key criteria. Take a look and let us know what social sharing strategies have been most successful on your site.

View more presentations from Janrain.

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About the author

Michael Olson

Senior Product Marketing Manager

Michael Olson joined Janrain more than five and a half years ago and has experienced the explosive growth of the digital marketing technology landscape. Previously, he managed demand generation programs at Janrain. Currently, as the Senior Product Marketing Manager, Michael drives go-to-market strategy for product launches as well as positioning and messaging to communicate the value of customer profile management solutions to companies. Michael's writing has been featured in publications such as GigaOM, Adotas and iMedia Connection.

View all posts by Michael Olson