A Brief Flirtation With Social Media

For the past few weeks I had a ShareThis button on the blog. First on posts viewed singly and then on all posts displayed on the home page. ShareThis allows readers to forward content to other services (email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) I went with ShareThis because visually it was the least noxious of similar services.

How’d it work it? Neither here nor there. It saw a bit of use by readers but not enough to justify keeping it on the site. Overall, having looked at number of these services, I think they all suffer from overkill. Most don’t let you edit the number of links provided. So, it’s common for them to present 30-50 links, the majority of them being too obscure to warrant inclusion. I also think that many in the heavy social media user crowd will already have plug-ins for their web browsers negating the need for sharing buttons.

In other blog news, I’ve made some updates this morning:

  • The sidebar links and information now appear on every page.
  • The sidebar now scrolls with the page (this allows it to be visible via scrolling if the browser window is shorter than the sidebar column and it means the sidebar will not overlap the blog footer.)
  • Posts viewed singly now have navigation at the bottom allowing for easy movement to the next or to the previous post.
  • I got rid of that pesky, tiny, smiley face which was showing up in the footer. Turns out it appears when you use the WordPress.com Stats widget. The smiley face is seen by everyone except the admin (IOW, for the admin to see it the admin must view the blog when logged out.) There’s an easy way to get rid of it – the WordPress.com Stats Smiley Remover widget.

12/5/09 – Already going back on my word.  Trying a Share/Save button (different service from ShareThis.)

12/6/09 – The flirtation continues… I tried the AddToAny Share/Save button. It’s nice and configurable, it can be anything from text or just an icon to a large horizontal button. I was impressed that it learns which services a person uses and puts those front and center. I also had some questions and its author sent me two emails this weekend. Impressive but the button wouldn’t play nice with my WordPress theme when viewed in Safari. This is a fault of Safari’s not the AddToAny code.

So, in one of those weekend sidetrack projects I’m known for – I made my own links that get added automatically on Learning to See’s home page and when individual posts are viewed. The code was cobbled together from suggestions on two sites (Anidandesign.com and MichaelMerrell.com) along with some reverse engineering of sites I’ve seen online. It’s very simple as you can see below, just text based links, but the advantage of doing it this way is that it can fit within the style of your WordPress theme. It won’t call undue attention to itself (a problem with the rows of colored icons many folks use.)

I’m not big on social media myself beyond having a blog but I can see the usefulness in helping those that are and in giving this a longer test run.  Since, ’tis the season, here’s Jon’s make-your-own text based social media bar:

ShareLink: <br> <a href=”mailto:?subject=<?php the_title(); ?>&body=Check out this post:%20<?php the_permalink(); ?>” title=”Email a link to: <?php the_title(); ?>”>Email</a> • <a href=”http://twitter.com/home?status=Currently reading <?php the_permalink(); ?>” title=”Tweet This” target=”_blank”>Twitter</a> • <a href=”http://www.facebook.com/share.php?u= <?php echo get_permalink() ?>” title=”Share on Facebook” target=”_blank”>Facebook</a> • <a href=”http://del.icio.us/post?url=<?php echo get_permalink() ?> &title=<?php the_title(); ?>” title=”Bookmark on Delicious” target=”_blank”>del.icio.us</a> • <a href=”http://www.stumbleupon.com/submit?url= <?php echo get_permalink() ?>&title=<?php the_title(); ?>” title=”Stumble This” target=”_blank”>StumbleUpon</a> • <a href=”http://digg.com/submit?phase=2&url= <?php echo get_permalink() ?>&title=<?php the_title(); ?>” title=”Digg This” target=”_blank”>Digg</a> • <a href=”http://www.linkedin.com/shareArticle?mini=true&url= <?php echo get_permalink() ?>&title=<?php the_title(); ?>” title=”Share on Linkedin” target=”_blank”>Linkedin</a>

I’ve dubbed it ShareLink but you should feel free to call it anything you want. A title may not be needed at all. If you want it in your single posts then add it to the single.php file, if you want it on your index page then add it to your index.php file.

1/26/10 – It’s been just over seven weeks since adding the ShareLink links mentioned above. In that time my site and blog had over 10,000 pageviews. With all those views ShareLink was used only ten times (1/10 of 1 Percent of pageviews.) Five times for Facebook, four times for email, and one time for Twitter. Given that, I’ve deleted the links for Del.icio.us, Stumbleupon, Digg, and Linkedin.