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Social Bookmarking (Sharing) & Networking Buttons: Explained

by on 11th March 2011  •  In Social Media Marketing

Social Networking and Bookmarking Buttons

Many small business owners I speak to get confused about the difference between social networking buttons and social bookmarking (sharing) buttons.

So here are the basics, starting with social networking buttons and moving onto social bookmarking buttons…

Social Networking Buttons

Where to find them

Typically, social networking buttons can be found at the very top right of a web page. Alternatively, sometimes they are located in a sidebar to the left or right of the page, and occasionally in static ‘tab style’ widgets like the blue ‘Follow Us’ tab you can see on the far right-hand edge of this page.

Their Purpose

Social networking buttons allow you to connect with the page author via social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. When you click on the buttons they take you to the author’s profile page on the relevant social media site and so encourage you, their website or blog visitors to follow them on the social media site(s) concerned.

How to use them

Website/Blog Visitors: If you like the content of a particular site and would like to connect with the author(s) via social media sites, just click on the button(s) that relate to the site(s) that you use. Once on those sites, simply click to ‘follow’, ‘like’, ‘invite’ or ‘add’ that person to your network.
Website/Blog Owners: Add them to your pages to encourage others to connect with you and expand your online social networks.

Where to put them

The top of your pages or somewhere very obvious that stands out is best.

Why they are important

For website and blog authors alike, social networking buttons encourage their readers to follow them and so grow their social networks. This is an organic process and can expose the authors’ content to an ever-growing audience over time.

From the readers’ perspective social networking buttons give them access to the person who wrote the page or pages they are interested in and allows them to engage in a dialogue with that author.

Visual Variations

Many social networking buttons will look somewhat like those in the picture at the top of this article. The ones we use on this website are slightly different. To see them for yourself, just click the blue ‘Follow Us’ tab located to the right of this page. (And please feel free to follow us).

Social Bookmarking (Sharing) Buttons

Where to find them

Social bookmarking buttons (sometimes called social sharing buttons) are different. They are often located at the bottom of a particular web page or blog post. (This page is a good example – look just above About Steve Bunyan). They are usually smaller and sometimes there are a lot of them. On this website we use just three buttons; a ‘Facebook Like’ button, a Twitter ‘Tweet’ button and a multi-purpose ‘Share’ button, The latter, when hovered over, reveals lots more sharing buttons.

Their Purpose

Social bookmarking buttons perform two very important roles for your website or blog:

  1. They encourage visitors to share your content with their friends, family and online social networks. This can dramatically increase traffic to your website.
  2. With the exception of a few of the buttons (e.g.  email, PDF and print buttons). when someone ‘Likes’, ‘Tweets’ or  ‘Shares’ your content it creates an inbound link to your website or blog from their page on whichever social media site they have shared it with. And because Google in particular loves inbound links, this can help with improving the position of your pages in Google’s search engine results pages.

How to use them

Website/Blog Visitors: Use them to share things you like with your friends, family and any online social networks you use. If you find something that you think would be great for someone you know, for your friends in general, or perhaps something that you just love and want to tell the world about, they are just about the easiest way to spread the word; it only takes a couple of clicks and you’re done!
Website/Blog Owners: Put them on any (and every) page you would like your visitors to share with others. One of the best places to get the buttons is AddThis. They are free of charge and come with full analytics reports at no charge too.

Where to put them

Arguably, the bottom of your pages is best because that’s where your reader’s eyes are focused when you’ve just wowed them with your fabulous content! …But by all means experiment with different locations for your social bookmarking buttons.

Why they are important

As a website or blog author, social bookmarking buttons encourage your readers to share your content with their social networks. Again, this is an organic process and can expose your content to a much bigger audience …and sometimes very quickly too.

As a website or blog visitor, social bookmarking buttons allow you to share really good content you’ve found with others.

Visual Variations

There are literally thousands of different variations of social bookmarking buttons available. Just choose those that you like for your own site.

And Finally…

If you found this article helpful, why not use these buttons to share it with all of your friends, family and online social networks…

Tags: Blog, Social Bookmarking, Social Media, Social Networking


Steve is the owner of Small Business Marketing, which is based in North Norfolk in the UK. He is passionate about helping small business owners to improve their web presence and their understanding of how the Internet works. He believes that by doing so, they will improve their businesses.

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