Your Social Media Share Buttons Should Be Hardcoded: Here's Why

sashattuck
Steven Shattuck VP of Marketing, Bloomerang

Posted on March 22nd 2013

Your Social Media Share Buttons Should Be Hardcoded: Here's Why

It’s no secret that social sharing buttons are a great way to increase the distribution and promotion of blog content through social media networks. Plugins and third-party tools like Digg Digg, AddThis, Get Social and ShareThis are great for a fast, out-of-the-box solution for implementing social sharing buttons on your blog. However, they may not be an ideal long-term solution for web developers and community managers who want to maximize the effectiveness of this feature. Here are three reasons you should use the official social network-provided code for sharing buttons, rather than relying on third-party plugins.

Social Media sharing

1. Complete Freedom Over Placement, Functionality, Look and Feel

When using a third-party plugin, you are limited to only the customization options that the developer gives to you. Often times, these are inadequate. Even though plugins will save you the trouble of having to insert code into your website files, the option to do so gives you flexibility in where and how they appear on your blog.

2. Increased Page Speed and Mobile Compatibility 

Because social sharing buttons load javascript files from an external source (the plugin supplier), it can slow performance down in terms of button load time. In addition, some third-party solutions are not mobile compatible. The Digg Digg floating toolbar in particular is notoriously mobile-unfriendly.

3. The Social Networks Themselves Prefer It

Obviously, if a social network goes to the trouble of supplying a proprietary button creator, it’s likely that they would prefer you use that over a third-party solution. You can bet that the share count will be most accurate on a propriety button versus a third-party button.

Here are links to the proprietary social sharing button builders for each of the major networks:

Perhaps the biggest benefit of using the proprietary Twitter and Buffer buttons is the ability to set account attribution to each tweet. For example, when a blog post is Buffered it can be set to include a “via @username” in the body of the tweet. Many third-party tools attribute tweets to their own service rather than the originator of the content.

While WordPress and Joomla users have multiple options to enable social sharing buttons on their sites, all webmasters regardless of CMS should consider taking the time to hardcode their buttons. The benefits make up for the added effort. Just take care in editing any website file!

sashattuck

Steven Shattuck

VP of Marketing, Bloomerang

Steven Shattuck is VP of Marketing at Bloomerang, which helps nonprofit organizations to reach, engage and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world.

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Comments

Posted on March 23rd 2013 at 12:00PM

Great post!!! In really had a great time reading it!!! It was really informative, thanks for sharing!!

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Mark Garner
Posted on April 3rd 2013 at 12:36AM

The only problem of course is that most soical media buttons don't use valid code, so if you want to maintain your usability and accessibility standing it becomes a real problem.

sashattuck
Posted on April 3rd 2013 at 12:39AM

Not sure what you mean by valid code - care to elaborate? I've never had an issue using the code supplied by each individual social network.

Mark Garner
Posted on April 3rd 2013 at 12:56AM

Valid code is valid code, it doesn't mean things won't work, it just means they haven't been coded properly.

For example if I do a validation check on this page I get 70 errors and 9 warnings about invalid markup.

Several of them are for Facebook and Google.

It can be a nightmare to fix, and often, usually, the offending bits of code come from thrid party suppliers like Google, Facebook, YouTube etc.

 

Chris Backe
Posted on June 6th 2013 at 5:07PM

Are you using the hard-coded links on the page here, or is this a plug-in? If there's one benefit to a plug-in, it's that the links are automatically generated as the page loads - no need to manually generate one...

dbin78
Posted on September 4th 2013 at 10:40PM

It is great to officially hear there is a benefit to using the network's suplied code!

Atul Ingale
Posted on December 6th 2013 at 5:33AM

I agree with you Steve, One more important point is with every plugin or widget you are using, you are passing SEO Benfit to that outbound link. If someone still like to have social sharing plugins then they can add rel="nofollow" tag to all outbound links.