Building traffic is key to successful Web sites and blogs. Social Web technologies have made traffic building easier via the use of sharing. Social sharing is a major behavioral shift — social sites drive an increasing portion of traffic to content publishers compared to long-time referral giant Google. Content sharing is an increasingly important activity on Facebook and Twitter, and it will only grow.
Facilitating sharing used to be more difficult. It required adding a lot of widgets and buttons to your Web pages or linking visitors to a long list of external social media Web sites. Now there are better ways to make your blog or Web site more interactive and easier to manage.
One way you can provide your visitors with an easy solution for sharing your content is via the use of a social sharing toolbar, which integrates your social media presence into your blog or Web site. The toolbar may contain a search bar, RSS feeds, recent posts, social networking links, and many more options that enable visitors to tweet, like, share, and read all of your social media content without navigating away. Some of the simpler toolbars do one thing and do it well — enable people to share your content via bookmarking sites. A toolbar implementation can really increase page views and drive more traffic. As you can see below, I’ve taken the plunge here and added the Wibiya toolbar — but there are many other options to choose from.
Here are some free, easy-to-use toolbars to check out:
You can see the Wibiya bar in action at the bottom of this browser window. Wibiya offers a host of Web applications which you can easily integrate into your Web site or blog to boost its usability and draw more traffic and page views for your content. They offer quite a few free applications that provide a wide variety of features and services, from sharing to direct social network connections (including Facebook and Twitter integration), live notifications, itranslation, 3D galleries, and a Smart Share feature. There’s also a nifty dashboard that enables tracking of engagement and application usage, along with analytics.
With the Meebo Bar, you get several great features straight out of the box: real-time sharing via IM, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Google Buzz, and e-mail; custom buttons; a personal stats dashboard for tracking page views and sharing from your site; and instant messaging, enabling visitors to chat and share with their IM friends from AIM, Yahoo!, Windows Live Messenger, Facebook, and other networks. See it in action on Meebo’s site.
Apture gives users the power to search and explore rich content without leaving the page. By transforming flat web pages into connected multimedia experiences, readers can fluidly dive into related information without losing their place on the page so they can see, hear and truly experience the ideas on the page. With a single line of code, Apture instantly transforms your pages into search enabled multi-media documents. By simply highlighting text, readers can instantly find content from YouTube, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google Maps, Twitter, and more, all without leaving the page. You can test it at FT.com/techblog.
Extendy lets visitors share their favorite pages, search your content, view your latest tweets and blog posts, connect with you across social networks, and more. Web sites typically have links to ‘subscribe to RSS’,'follow us on Twitter’, ‘share this post via Facebook, Digg, …’, site search functionality, etc. But these things all exist in different spots on every site. The folks at Extendy tried to create an easy dashboard for visitors to quickly find those features on your site or blog. By having your latest tweets and blog posts easily visible to your users, they’ll (hopefully) engage more with your content.
Add HootSuite’s Social Share tool to your site to amplify campaign messaging across to multiple social networks. A single click allows your audience to share directly on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Myspace and more. You can also post messages simultaneously across channels, schedule messages, share images and files, and much more. There are two versions, one for enterprise platforms and one for bloggers and other publishers. Try it out on HootSuite’s site.
ShareThis helps you increase your socially-referred traffic. Get a stream on your site that filters the real-time Web based on sharing and friends. It’s trending content and social reactions, all in one place. ShareThis lets you know how and where your content is being shared so you can understand your audience and social influence compared to others in your category. Everyone who shares is an influencer, and this tool helps you to better engage and monetize your users.
What are your thoughts about social media toolbars vs. using other methods like separate plugins (e.g. Twitter’s retweet button, TweetMeme, Facebook share, Facebook like, etc.)? Have you tried any of the latest iterations of toolbars like Meebo and Wibya? Please share your experiences and recommendations!