It’s rare to visit any website today and not be met with an array of social
sharing widgets. These features enable site visitors to comment, tweet,
like, bookmark and share interesting content from publishers’ websites,
amplifying the distribution of information and helping to generate Web
traffic. The benefits of these widgets can be one sided, however.
When a user shares via a Facebook or Twitter widget, the publisher
doesn’t gain any helpful insight from the data it records.
When Web tools, such as AddThis or ShareThis, are installed,
publishers miss out on revenue. Many publishers are unaware
of these benefits, but are available to them just the same.
Do you know what your users are sharing?
The Web has evolved from a search destination into a social environment.
Nowadays, understanding social connections is a
necessity when strategizing how and when to get closer to
users. Publishers could potentially gain highly valuable insights
by looking at what people share, who with, how often and in
what context. This could help them better target their content
and, in turn, boost their ad revenues. However, the problem
many publishers face is in deciding which widget to use. Of
websites featuring social widgets, Facebook widgets are present
on 59.6 percent, Google+ on 40.7 percent and Twitter on 24
percent. These figures indicate that publishers understand the
important relationship among personal connections, content
and Web traffic. These widgets, however, don’t provide much in
the way of user-sharing data.
By offering analytical data, several social widgets have made
a step toward a compromise with publishers. Two examples are
the aforementioned AddThis and ShareThis, but they are only
present on 19.4 percent and six percent of websites featuring
widgets, respectively. Luckily, the appearance of “next generation”
social widgets is increasing.
These next generation widgets offer deeper insight into user
behavior by leveraging external insight (e.g. website visits before
or after their visit).
Does your widget assist in natural SEO?
As search algorithms calculate social virality as a key indication
of relevance, it’s possible to use widgets to impact a brand’s SEO.
By increasing the social circulation of content, publishers will
also drive SEO results. Additionally, Facebook and Google+
continue to fight for social dominance, so publishers need to be
hyperaware of the importance of digital sharing within natural
search and its influence on search rankings.
Can your widget make you revenue?
Using the right social sharing widget can increase the value of
advertising inventory by providing new audience targeting data
(for example, data management platforms can charge additional
fees to advertisers or sell this rich data outright). However, now
publishers can become their own data management suppliers,
again boosting the publisher’s revenue stream. Essentially the
business model for widgets is changing — moving from prioritizing
the provider to a neutral ground.
A problem both publishers and advertisers face is that despite
networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, having incredibly
broad reach, they are essentially closed environments;
people are free to share in those networks, but once inside, content
is rarely shared amongst a network of people across the
open Web again. This prevents publishers and advertisers from
fully understanding and, therefore, scaling their audiences, impeding
their ability to tailor content and advertising. By choosing
a social widget that gives insight into what their audience
does, publishers and advertisers are able to side step the closed
networks to some degree, deriving tangible benefits and keeping
the open Web alive.
Are you using the right widget?
The majority of online publishers appreciate that the Internet
has transformed from a search destination into a social environment,
and are already providing site visitors with the opportunity
to share their content across a variety of different
outlets. However, what they’re yet to appreciate is that with
this fundamental change comes an opportunity for them to
gain more value from social sharing. By choosing a widget that
helps publishers harness the sharing phenomenon and all the
insight into user behavior then can (and will) offer, they can
get a share in the benefits and earn more from the content
About the Author: Rebecca Watson is the VP of Business Development at RadiumOne.