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February 03 2014

11:00

Social Polling by Opinion Stage: One-Year Pro-Account for Free


  

Votes and polls are nothing new. But before you yawn and turn to the next article, give me two seconds. Votes and polls done with Opinion Stage are not the ole fashioned feedback tools your mind first thinks of. Opinion Stage integrates the social component as it lets you interact with Social Media. The deeper insights you are about to receive are beyond comparison. Better even, today we give away two annual Pro Plans, worth 228 dollars, for free. All you need to do to win is place a comment below the following article.

April 19 2012

02:51

How to Utilize Social Media Sharing Badges in your Blog

Internet marketing is the best way to slowly ramp up a crowd for your website. Repeat visitors are the attraction to help your brand sink into all areas of the web. And social media has provided just another tool for marketers everywhere to achieve this task.

featured image for Digg, inc.

If you run a blog then surely you’ve seen these small badges practically everywhere. Some of the more popular digital magazines have incorporated them into the layout as a powerful marketing solution. The embed code is very easy to work with, and I highly recommend bloggers of all areas to try out a few.

Selecting your Networks

Before even looking into the code you should spend some time thinking about which networks are the right solution for you. Back 4-5 years ago bloggers were limited in the amount of social media badges. Digg was a powerhouse and barely anybody was using StumbleUpon (compared to 2012, anyways).

But currently there are so many growing networks for both web and mobile, you have your pick of the litter! Facebook shares and Retweet buttons are very common solutions. This is probable since these markets are huge and do not cater to any specific niche. But as you break down into smaller areas you can find sharing badges for very topic-specific blogs.

BallTribe social news community for sports fans

To provide some examples BallTribe is fantastic for sports-related posts. The community is small but engaged in the content, thus you can build a lot of traffic to your articles. Another social news community Dzone caters to the likes of web developers, server administrators, and software programmers.

If you’re looking for an entire compilation you would have more luck checking through Google. There aren’t a whole lot of posts which round up social media networks. So you will have to perform some additional searching around on your own. I have a small text file saved on my computer with a list of active social communities.

Supply Prime Real Estate

The user experience should always come first when considering these types of changes. If many of your visitors do not care to see or use these badges they will just get in the way. And if you have too many in one place they will ultimately disrupt the flow of your content.

The simplest solution is to include a whole section of social media badges in one area of your post. This could be towards the top near your header or smaller metadata. But I have found a lot of success moving badges towards the bottom of your content. Just as visitors are done reading through your post it gives them a chance to share or vote through external sites.

Hongkiat blog social media voting badge

Additionally you can build a small toolbar right above the comments section to house these vote badges. This will catch a lot of eyes from users scrolling right through the page. I have seen a few designs such as on Hongkiat’s blog where the badges actually float off to the left or right side of the layout. These become non-intrusive elements and still just as easy to access for those interested.

The Hype behind Google+

Google has recently hit the market with their own social media badge. Google+ is a new network in competition with big-boy Facebook and has garnered a lot of support. It should be noted that their +1 badges behave slightly different than the majority of sharing badges.

Google+ Logo pin w/ iPhone

With social news you generally have visitors voting on your story, and after a certain amount your article may go popular. With other social networks like StumbleUpon your visitors just end up sharing links to their friends. But with Google+ each vote gives your post URL a little more credibility.

This means when users go to search in Google your post may turn up higher in the results. Granted this +1 button is not the only factor considered within Google’s SERPS. But your ranking in Google+ does pertain directly to popularity among the online community.

Submit Your own Links

It’s certainly a no-brainer to consider submitting your own links to these networks. For starters it gives your profile a bit of credibility when people can find links back to your website. Additionally you have a lot more control over the amount sharing.

This is especially true if you run a small network of marketing accounts. You can easily garner up a quick 5-10 retweets if you have some extra Twitter accounts lying around. Additionally you can move your posts into Digg’s upcoming area with just 15-30 votes. Most front page stories hit around 90+, so you may not make it that far without some extra support.

Working late at the offices - web design studio

To get your community interested in voting you have to make it as easy as possible. Nobody wants to be the first guy to submit your link into any of the networks. Who honestly has the time anymore?

But if you already have the story submitted it’s a lot easier for visitors to just vote up on each of your badges. Of course, this doesn’t need to be done meticulously with every post. But certainly give credence to your more popular articles and gauge their performance over time.

Adding Badges to CMS’

There are quite a few popular CMS solutions for bloggers to utilize. It’s no question that WordPress is one of the most popular options this day in age, if not honestly the most popular. But of course you’ll need to have your own web hosting unless you want to go through their own custom free services.

Google Blogger online sharing plugins

Although WordPress does supply a steady amount of bloggers, Google’s Blogger is a free alternative which offers many of the same features. Although one big downside is that WordPress users have access to thousands of free plug-ins and template themes. Blogger and Tumblr users have a similar market, but they are nowhere as developed as Automattic.

A fantastic plugin Social Media Widget is free to download and easy to install on any WordPress blog. It includes a default host of badges such as Digg, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Delicious, and a whole lot more. If you’re looking for a specific solution check the social media tag which lists all WordPress plug-ins related to social media.

garland red and blue banner

Additionally there was a great post on Mashable in 2011 focusing around this exact topic. There are plenty of code examples to be found around the web, but you generally get the best results by hand-coding your own buttons. On each social networking website look through their footer links until you find the sharing page. This will include default JavaScript code to embed within your layout and save you time.

Conclusion

This small guide should give you an idea of how powerful social media can be. If you take the necessary precautions adding these sharing badges into your layout will almost guarantee more unique traffic. If you have found similar successful methods of Internet marketing through social media, please feel free to share your ideas in the post discussion area.

August 08 2011

19:34

Six Social Networks for Designers + Invites!

A couple of years ago I read an article that predicted we would soon see a surge in niche social networks crop up across the internet, targeted at specific groups whether they be for cat lovers, home brewers, or in our case designers. The thinking behind it was that one massive social network, Facebook, couldn’t suffice the needs of each and every individual out there. Facebook is great for staying in touch with friends and family, but it is far too broad reaching to cater to everyone.

Fast forward to present day and there’s a nearly overwhelming number of social outlets for designers to promote themselves on and network with others. In this article I’ve listed six of the most prominent social networks for designers available today.

The Invites

Five of the six networks listed here are invite only, so along with covering the sites I’ve also got a few invites to give away:

To enter yourself in the drawings for the invites just leave a comment below with a link to your portfolio and which sites you’d like to get an invite to. I’ll announce the winners in a week

The Sites

Dribbble


Forrst

Design:related

LoveDsgn

Designers Couch

Behance Network

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