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How to get the most from your sharing widget

Whether it’s a  button linking to a Facebook or Twitter page or something which enables site visitors to comment, like, share and bookmark across a wide variety of social media platforms. Social widgets typically allow users to share directly from publishers. While this increases their distribution of content and helps generate web-traffic, the benefits are often one-sided.

When a user shares via a Facebook or Twitter widget, the publisher doesn’t gain any insight from the data it records. Equally when web tools like AddThis or ShareThis are installed, publishers miss out on new revenue streams. Both are benefits publishers may have not realised were available to them.

Do you know what your users are sharing?

Understanding social connections is key to knowing how and when to get closer to your users. Publishers could gain highly valuable insight by looking at what people share, who with, how often and in what context, enabling them to adapt and better target their content, consequently boosting their ad revenues. However, the problem many publishers face is in deciding which widget to use, when very few offer user data.

Over the last couple of months we have seen the appearance of the “next generation” of social widgets, such as, which offer even more information than their predecessors. These “next generation widgets” offer true insight into your users, by looking "outside" of a website. For example, has one of your readers just downloaded a car brochure? Have they been looking at flights, were they just on to a soft drinks page or looking at getting a credit card? These insights open up the ability for publishers to attract new advertisers and media budgets than were once unattainable.

Does your widget assist in natural SEO?

As search algorithms calculate social virality as a key indication of relevance, it’s possible to use a widget to impact a brand’s SEO. As Facebook and Google+ continue to fight for dominance, publishers need to be increasingly aware of the importance of social sharing within natural search.

Does your widget increase site revenue?

Most publishers struggle to monetise their content. However these “next generation” widgets provide incremental revenue. Once a user has shared via one, their data is recorded and an advert may be displayed. Advertisers can now understand the ‘share’ to provide more targeted advertising, resulting in high interactions, which is a win-win for both parties.

Can your widget segment your audience and make you revenue?

Using the right social sharing widget can increase the value of advertising inventory by providing new audience targeting data. Data management platforms typically charge or sell this rich data, however, now publishers can become their own suppliers, again boosting the publisher’s revenue stream.

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. This prevents them 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 ca,n to some degree, sidestep the closed networks.

Online publishers are nearly there, however they’re yet to appreciate that with the evolution of web into a social platform comes an opportunity for them to gain more value from social sharing. Advertisers are adapting their approaches to harness the sharing phenomenon but by embracing a similar strategy, publishers can get a share in the benefits too.

So the question is: Are you using the right social sharing widget?