There are a few things to consider. Many articles you find on the Internet have probably told you that it is not always a good idea followed by detailed reasons which make perfect sense. But in this social media era, it is so hard to resist not to put those buttons or widgets just because everybody else does it.
Here are a few items that you should check with your online marketing and e-commerce strategies before deciding whether to place them and where.
Know the difference between “sharing” button and “follow” button
I have to bring this up, as not all people truly understand that these have totally different functions. Sharing button is like giving a thumb up to that specific URL but that person will not become a fan or follower on your social media profiles. For that you need the follow button, which is like an invite to follow your updates.
Consider the content that you want your visitors to share
Think of it as an encouragement tool not reinforcement tool
Unless you are offering something very special in return, do not force your visitors to like or share the page. This is not how social media works. Instead you are putting the buttons to make it easier for them to distribute the content to their friends/followers. To be able to share and discuss about interesting information they find on the web is the basic principle of creating online buzz.
Carefully decide on the placement
The last thing you want to do is to make the buttons reduce the overall experience in browsing your website. You do not need to place them everywhere (read above, visitors will share if they want to), just pick a spot where they can complement your page layout.
Pick the right networks
Every social media network has its own personality of followers. While Facebook and Twitter are the two with biggest users base and cover practically every type of Internet users, there are specific networks that probably fit best to your content. For professional and business, you can consider including LinkedIn, Pinterest is great if you post nice graphic assets, and so on.
Create a starting point or evaluate the results
By the end of the day, like any other features that you embedded into your website, measure the effectiveness of your social sharing functions. This can be analyzed from traffic and social media reach growth, number of shared content, interactions and so on. By marking the “before state”, you can later evaluate if the approach is positive or only lowers your site’s overall score without providing a reasonable gain. Remember that your site’s load time and design are directly impacted by this.
Now that you are ready to start, I can recommend AddThis to easily create customizable widget that allows you to pick and add buttons to many popular social media networks.