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I’m a frugal business owner and I use a ton of free tools to run my business, but when it comes to getting the maximum results from the content I create (with the limited time I have), I rely on the premium plugin Social Warfare Pro to help get my blog content shared on social media.
For $29/year, Social Warfare is worth every penny–not only does it help my content to get more social shares, but it helps me save tons of time by not having to mess around with getting my posts to display exactly the way I want them to on social media.
As a web designer who has wrestled with tons of different social sharing tools over the years, I can promise you they’re not all made equal.
By “social sharing tools” I mean:
The key is making it easy for people by having well-designed social sharing buttons placed in strategic locations, and optimizing each post for each channel with great visuals and click-worthy descriptions.
The problems you can run into with many social sharing tools:
1. Your post description isn’t optimized so people don’t know what your content is about
People don’t click on things unless they’re 100% certain they know exactly what they’re going to get when they do.
Each social media channel you share to—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, et al—each have their own way of “scraping” information from your webpage and that affects how it will look in your feed.
If you don’t have a way to specifically let them know how you want the description to read, you might wind up sharing an unclear description (usually ‘scraped’ from the beginning paragraph of your post) and that’s going to hurt your engagement and clickthroughs.
And it’s not just about when YOU share your own content on social media. If your post doesn’t have a great visual and a clear description, people will think twice before sharing it with their audience.
Here’s a blog post I shared to Twitter that ticks all the boxes I look for when sharing to social: clear visual, title, and description of what the post is about:
2. Your social sharing buttons are easy to miss
I curate a lot of content online and I can tell you, a lot of the time I don’t see social sharing buttons without having to hunt around for them. If it takes me more than a few seconds to locate them, I won’t even bother. In order to get people sharing your content, you have to make it as easy as possible and those buttons must be unmissable and located in at least one easy-to-access location.
3. Those social sharing buttons junk up your pretty website design
Hey, I’m a designer, these things matter to me. When you’ve got a beautiful website design and your social sharing buttons are ugly, they stand out like a sore thumb and we just can’t have that.
4. They display an unintended image to social media
A lot of social sharing tools will automatically display your “featured image,” and if you don’t have one set, they’ll grab an image from somewhere else, usually your post. If there’s no image in your post, it’ll grab “whatever” — maybe something in your website’s design. (You may have seen this happen in your social feeds, it doesn’t look cool.)
It’s always better to have full control over which images should be shared to social media.
Sometimes it’s not your featured image that you want and that can cause problems. For example, I use my featured image slot to indicate my blog categories and I definitely don’t want that showing up on social media.
How Social Warfare Fixes Social Sharing Problems
1. Click-worthy Descriptions
LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook descriptions all work pretty much the same way, a universal description is fine. But Twitter and Pinterest work a little differently because there, you want to use strategic hashtags. For Twitter, one or two works best, and on Pinterest, 3 or 4.
And because Pinterest is a search engine, you’ll want to make sure you’re providing plenty of descriptive keywords so your Pins get found when people are searching.
2. Images Can Be Optimized For Social As Well As Pinterest
Oh, you don’t use Pinterest? Doesn’t matter. If your readers are, and that’s where they prefer to bookmark content and share with their tribe, you want to optimize it for THEM.
A lot of people underestimate Pinterest because they haven’t used it in a while (or at all), but over the years it’s become a powerful platform for businesses. It’s not a social network as much as a search engine, and there are pinners interested in all sorts of topics and niche content–including business-related content. Trust me, it’s not just DYI crafts and recipe anymore. Pinterest is a traffic powerhouse.
Several times a week it happens that I try to share a blog post to Pinterest but the site owner makes it really difficult by not providing a share button:
As a Pinterest user, I can work around that by using my Pin It browser extension, but a lot of the time the site owner doesn’t provide me with the image or the descriptive text I need… so I skip it. Here’s what I mean:
Social Warfare makes this easier by allowing you to offer a Pinterest button in your sharing tools and to optimize your description and image for Pinterest.
Pinterest visuals—or “pins”—in contrast to other social channels, should be vertical. (Your horizontal Facebook image won’t cut it.)
Social Warfare even provides a handy reference so you know what size to make each image, optimized for each channel–right in your post editor (no Googling required!)
3. Beautiful, branded, unmissable buttons
The Social Warfare buttons are sleek, beautifully designed and can be customized to match your brand color. There are also several button styles to choose from.
My amazing clients over at BlackHer.us have one primary “power color” that represents their brand and their Social Warfare buttons reinforce–rather than detract from–the site aesthetic.
Sandra Clayton over at ConversionMinded.com sticks to the traditional colors associated with the social media channels, and they look amazing!
4. You can pick & choose which social sharing buttons you want to appear and it’s all drag & drop!
Depending on your audience, sometimes you don’t want to provide the whole “kitchen sink” when you display social sharing button options. Social Warfare makes it easy to choose which channels you want to focus on and get rid of everything that’s not necessary.
There’s a free version available, but I find that doesn’t solve all the problems I need it to. Social Warfare Pro is worth the splurge.