As you’ve probably seen throughout the Internet, those Facebook ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons are quickly becoming an ubiquitous feature on many blogs and websites.  Many of our clients have asked us the difference between the ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons, and, which one they should implement into their website.  Moreover, they want to know which one will ultimately drive the most qualified leads and business.  Our answer: they’re so easy to integrate, you need to try both.

The Facebook ‘Share’ Button

When a user clicks the Facebook ‘Share’ button on a website, a ‘Post to Profile’ window appears to confirm the action.  The unique element of this window is that it not only attaches the item that is to be shared, but it provides an open text box allowing the user to explain why they’ve shared it.  That open text box is the primary difference between ‘Share’ and ‘Like,’ and can play a major role in adding (or detracting) value from the item being shared.

When a user ‘Shares’ an item, it appears on their Facebook Wall and is broadcasted to all of their friends via the Facebook News Feed.  This distribution is what makes the ‘Share’ button so powerful.  Let’s say a user shares a link to a new restaurant that just opened nearby.  If they type a positive response in the open text field (for example: “This restaurant has the greatest hamburger in town!”), their friends may be inclined to visit the restaurant and try the food for themselves.  If they type a negative response (“This was the worst meal of my life – greasy food and bad service”), the mass distribution of the comment may significantly hurt that restaurant’s business.

The Facebook ‘Like’ Button

The Facebook ‘Like’ button is a bit more straight-forward than the ‘Share’ button.  If a user clicks the ‘Like’ button, the content that they like is added to their profile page and Facebook News Feed, giving it the same distribution as the ‘Share’ button.  But, without the potentially ominous open text box, it’s a bit quicker and easier for users to ‘Like’ an item.  And, users wouldn’t have anything bad to say about an item they ‘Like,’ right?

Most social media analysts agree that the ‘Like’ button is a fun and easy way for people who aren’t necessarily tech-savvy to participate in the social media realm.  I have also read that ‘Liking’ is often a gateway to ‘Sharing’ – once users get a taste of distributing content, they tend to get addicted and more involved.

Integrating Facebook ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ Buttons

The Facebook ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons are very easy for most developers to integrate into new and existing websites.  The only trick is placing the buttons in a prominent place that will elicit user interaction.

Instructions for integrating the ‘Like’ button can be found here, and instructions for the ‘Share’ button can be found here.

Final Thoughts

‘Liking’ something is easier for users than ‘Sharing’ it, mainly because casual Internet surfers don’t like to be burdened by the text box.  But, sharing accompanied by a positive comment could potentially add more value to the webpage/product/video/etc. being shared.

There is growing speculation that the ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons will have a significant impact on SEO – especially as Facebook gains more traction as a search portal.  We will certainly be keeping an eye on this as more concrete evidence emerges.

Overall, we are strongly recommending that our clients integrate the ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons as quickly as possible.  I definitely agree with the speculation that they will have an SEO impact, and it’s always better to be ahead of the curve.

If you’d like us to help with Facebook ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ button integration, or need some guidance on your overall social media strategy, shoot me an e-mail at nick@829llc.com or call 617-933-9824.