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Share or Follow buttons ?

I often get asked to explain the difference between follow and share buttons on a website. This, understandably, can be a bit confusing as they can look pretty much identical but actually have very different functions.

So what is the difference ?

  • Follow buttons – connect to the website’s social media account pages.
    e.g. A visitor clicking on the follow us on Twitter button will be taken to the website’s Twitter page and they can then choose to follow them if they wish by clicking on the Follow button.
  • Share buttonsconnect to the visitor’s social media accounts.
    e.g. a visitor reads a post on your website / blog and decides to share it so they click on the Twitter button, it opens up a window which connects to their Twitter account, they type in a comment and then click share. This then is added to their Tweets and all their followers can then see it.

How do you tell them apart ?

Below is an example of a recent post from my blog. As you can see, at the top right of the page, there are “follow” buttons. At the bottom of the post, there are “share” buttons”.

Social media - share or follow buttons

To minimise confusion, I always try and keep a good separation between the two types of buttons in my designs and group the buttons together with a clear label indicating if they are follow or share buttons.

Another good indicator to identify share buttons is that they tend to be included at the bottom of the article so that when you have finished reading, they are in a logical point in the flow where you are ready to share it with your friends/followers.

Hope this helps.

So now you know the difference, feel free to follow me and share this article with your friends and colleagues :o)

Steve Wood owns and runs Scalar Enterprises based in Portsmouth in Hampshire. He offers a range of services including Web design and Internet marketing to small businesses and SMEs in Hampshire and the surrounding areas.

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