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.
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
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:
- LinkedIn: http://developer.linkedin.com/plugins/share-plugin-generator
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/about/resources/buttons#tweet
- Facebook: https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like/
- Google+: https://developers.google.com/+/plugins/+1button/
- Buffer: http://bufferapp.com/extras/button
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!