Encouraging Your Readers to Share

There’s a gaping chasm of difference between commercial promotion and personal
recommendations. If you can get your readers to share your posts and recommend
your site to friends, you’ll accomplish far more than the average ad campaign.
Usually, sharing means enlisting the help of Facebook and Twitter, two social sites
that are all about exchanging information, from gossipy chitchat to breaking news.
With the right WordPress settings and widgets, you can make it easy for your visitors
to recommend your site to their friends and followers.

NOTE Most of the features in this chapter require WordPress.com or the Jetpack plug-in for self-hosted
sites.

How Sharing Buttons Work

Sharing is often an impulsive act. You stumble across a site, it catches your easily
distracted mind for a few seconds, and you pass the word out to a few choice friends.
You’re more likely to share a site if the process is quick and easy—for example, if the
site provides a handy link that does the bulk of the job for you. If a guest has to fire
up her email program or log in to another site (like Facebook or Twitter), she might
just defer the task for another time—and then forget about it altogether.

The best way to make sharing easy, quick, and convenient is to add buttons that
reduce the task to a couple of mouse clicks (Figure 12-1). That way, your readers can
share your site before they move on to their next distraction.

Email sharing is great for guests who may not use social media. Best of all, it works
even if your visitor doesn’t have an email program handy, because WordPress sends
the message on your guest’s behalf.

Facebook sharing is another good option, simply because of Facebook’s mindboggling
popularity. When a guest clicks the Facebook button, WordPress takes
her to the Facebook site, where she can share the link and post an excerpt on her
timeline.

Twitter sharing is a great way to get the word out into the ever-chattering Twitterverse.
Serious Twitter fans are always looking for small tidbits of interesting material,
and your Tweet button will be a hard temptation for them to resist. When a guest
clicks it, WordPress pops up a new browser window, asking the tweeter to log in to
Twitter and offering to send the link to his followers.

Adding Sharing Buttons

To add sharing buttons to posts or pages, your site needs to run on WordPress.
com or use a plug-in. In this chapter, you’ll stick to the familiar Jetpack plug-in,
which adds the same sharing buttons as WordPress.com. To get started, choose
Settings→Sharing to go to the Sharing Settings page. There, you choose the buttons
you want to add to your site and decide where they appear.

TIP Email, Facebook, and Twitter aren’t your only sharing options, but they’re three of the best. Another
good choice is the Print button, which gives people an easy way to print out your post and take it to their friends
on foot. But the best advice for sharing buttons is to use just a few of the most useful ones (ideally, cap it at four
or five). Too many buttons can overwhelm your readers and make you look needy.

Selectively Hiding Sharing Buttons

I don’t want all my posts and pages to be the same. Can I show
sharing buttons on some but not all posts and pages?
Yes.
To understand how, you need to understand that WordPress
displays sharing buttons only if your site meets two criteria.
First, in the “Show sharing buttons on” section, you must
turn on the Posts checkbox. Second, when you create or edit a
post, you need to check “Show sharing buttons on this post.”
WordPress automatically adds the checkmark for every new
post, but you can change that.
Consider an example. Imagine you have a site with 36 posts and
you want to allow sharing on all but three. First make sure you
have the Posts checkbox at Settings→Sharing turned on. Then,
turn off the “Show sharing buttons on this post” checkbox for
the three posts that shouldn’t have sharing buttons.
The same technique works for pages, except that WordPress
pays attention to the Pages checkbox rather than the Posts
checkbox on the Settings→Sharing page.

There’s one quirk in the way the Facebook button functions. Ordinarily, clicking the
Facebook button shares a post by inviting you to publicize it on your timeline. But
when you switch on the “Official buttons” option, the Facebook button becomes a
Like button, which simply collects your vote of approval and counts the number of
Likes the page has.

NOTE “Liking” isn’t quite the same thing as sharing. For example, if Victor Gonzales shares a post (using
the standard Facebook button), he gets the chance to add a comment on his Facebook timeline. If he “Likes” a
post (using the Like button), Facebook makes a note of the action but doesn’t ask Victor to supply a comment.
In both cases, Victor’s friends will see a link to the post in their News Feeds, along with an excerpt.

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Encouraging Your Readers to Share

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