If you love sharing other people’s content, making it easy for them to share your own content is an important step in setting up your blog. In fact it would have been #2 on my to-do list if I had bothered to make one – right after selecting a theme.
The standard sharing buttons on a WordPress(.com) blog have two issues I noticed in particular:
- They mentioned WordPress but no author;
- There was no “Add to Buffer” button.
In this post you’ll find out what happened when I ran into these issues; how I fixed them; and a few examples in case you’re haven’t had a chance to look into this for your own blog. But first let’s explore why I’m calling them issues and talking of fixing them.
Why is it a problem if your name is not automatically added?
Quite a number of blogs have a “via @twittername” part in their messages. I’m so used to this I often add the Twitter name of the blog author to my tweets if they are missing. This means that I need to look them up and paste their names in, which can be more work than it is worth. Sometimes I skip the whole exercise for that reason. In fact, once or twice I gave up on sharing an article altogether. That should not happen to sound content. For that reason, make sure your name is part of the message. Anyone is free to do some editing, but the main thought here is that you make sharing as quick and easy as possible.
Another reason for including your name is that finding out how often and by whom your content is shared can be difficult if:
- The sharer changes the title of your post – possibly optimizing it for Twitter, or for a particular audience;
- They share your content through a scheduling tool in stead of retweeting or reblogging.
If your Twitter name is part of the message they may simply leave it in – so long as it fits. That gives you an extra option to check for tweets that link to your content.
Also, having your Twitter name shared makes it easier for readers to find you, just in case they’re not ready to follow or subscribe to your blog.
Why is the absence of a Buffer button a problem?
The Buffer app is very useful if you:
- Check the latest developments online at a time when a large number of potentially interested people are asleep;
- Want to share the latest without swamping followers with a dozen messages at once, and
- Prefer a simple solution since getting the hang of a more complicated tool seems a bit premature when viewing your present number of followers.
All of the above apply to me so even before publishing my first post I tried to fix the Buffer issue. Since I didn’t like the fact that the sharing buttons were only at the bottom of the page I started by pasting some code into the top menu. That worked. Sort of. I didn’t manage to get the title of the post into the message. I looked the Buffer issue up and found an old Q&A on WordPress.com. The answer read something like: “The Buffer button isn’t in html. Sorry.”
(I published my first post.)
Then I e-mailed the guys at Buffer. First of all, they were OK with my using the link without the button since I couldn’t paste that into the menu. Second, they suggested a way to fix the title issue. It didn’t work but even so, thanks guys. Third, they said they would contact WordPress.com to see if they could fix the absence of the Buffer button. So I guess we’ll see what happens.
(At this point I started to think about writing a post about the subject.)
Then I decided to check the sharing buttons again. Meanwhile though, I had completely forgotten where to find them. After I found them (nowhere near Appearance – Widgets but in the Settings section) I noticed the link “Add new service”. Since I’d already spent some time on the link in my top menu, I pasted my code in and it worked fine. Then I tried different options until I got as close to the messages I got from other websites as I could.
Creating personalized sharing buttons
Adding a new service, as WordPress calls it, has its own issues:
- You can’t just edit the new button, no, you can create it or delete it. Not DIY friendly for non-techies or perfectionists!
- WordPress gives you a few bits of code you can paste into the sharing button but I ended up adding bits from my earlier code to complete my message. Besides, you do need to know how to glue all those bits together to make your link work.
- You need to get a link to really tiny icon images.
- Did I mention you probably started up your blog because you wanted to spend time writing?
Just in case you have considered personalizing the sharing buttons on your own blog, here is what your code might look like (in Bold are the bits you would change to your own site or Twitter name):
Note: %20 is for adding a space as in add%20your%20sitename%20here
Once you get one button to work the way you want it to, you may be tempted to use similar codes to personalize other buttons. I sure was! So I changed the Twitter button next and set it to include my tags as hashtags:
Now I’m planning to wait and see which I like best – the one which I end up changing the least when sharing. I think I’ll like the one without hashtags best since I’ve added as many as four tags to this post! But maybe time will prove me wrong.
Let me know which you like best: adding or deleting hashtags? Use the comments section below.
P.S.: You can find the tiny icons for the sharing buttons at: