Stop Raising Billboards

People are more than blank billboards, so why do some sites focus more on getting a retweet than response?

The way most sites go about sharing via social media is cheap. They treat visitors like blank billboards. Billboards just waiting to republish a title and link to their content. These billboards “drive traffic” to the content, and raise more billboards to repeat the process. At least that’s what the marketing plan says will ideally happen. Just one question. At what stage does the actual person come in?

You Rarely Just “Do”

The genius of people is that they often react to what they experience. It takes a boring person to simply “Go to the beach”. The average person “Goes to the beach, and has a great time” or something similar. Notice the difference?

When you make something no one hates, no one loves it. – Tibor Kalman

Complacency should scare you. Reactions are part of how we communicate. Embrace this when adding a share option for your site. Facebook dabbles a bit in this idea by the binary option of “Liking” Facebook content. The problem with this on most person sites is that it leaves out a whole range of middle ground. The act of liking (or abstaining from) is not definitive. Does someone chose not to like a post because they had issue with it? Or just because they didn’t understand it? The absence of feedback in this case is ambiguous.

Advanced Twitter Bar

One of the features that our team was particularly proud of integrating a ways back was the Twitter feedback bar. You can see an example in use at the bottom of this post. Since including it on our theme, we almost instantly noticed a significant boost in tweets for posts. In contrast, options like “ShareThis” have reached a point on par with banner ads. At this rate, will we develop blindness to plug-n-play social media links too?

Reactionary Social Media Links

In the time since launching the original tutorial, a number of other sites have started to integrate options for meaningful reaction. This means that instead of just reading an article, you can now vote for tone and reaction. You can also see what other people think. Buzzfeed does more of the same.

But is it any good?

Don’t force people to become your billboards. Give them a platform to construct their own way of sharing your content, complete with a full range of reactions. We include negative options in the Twitter feedback bar available on post pages. Saving face is stupid if the result is publishing crap. Negative feedback is just as useful as the positive. Better to have someone tell you via tweet than by wondering where all the traffic went.

Traffic is a Byproduct

Don’t let your site fall into the trap of limited billboard response. It betrays the type of interaction dedicated fans will use. I don’t stop reading a blog if one of the articles sucks. Readership is rarely that fragile. Use the reactions to your advantage. These are the types of share actions that benefit in more than one way. First, the link is shown to more audience. Second, you receive meaningful feedback as to the quality of what was shared. Winning all around.

For your next project, give it a thought. You’ll see realistic responses, and get one step closer to substantial engagement rather than just unfeeling evangelism.

Posted Monday, June 13th, 2011 · Back to Top


Add Comment

29 Comments 1 Mentions

  1. endz Author Editor

    Very good point. Glad I’m not the only one who has failed with this – only about 99% sites have done it also.


  2. Chris Author Editor

    Good post Sam. This actually came at a very good time for the company I work for. I’m helping develop and advise them on setting up various methods of social feedback as outlined in this article on their new, in development blog.

    I completely agree with you. Site’s with a bit of leeway or creativity in how you respond and share their content are much more interesting. I’m hoping we can implement a version of your tweet bar on our blog too.


  3. Chris Author Editor

    Oh crap. I meant Zach. Sorry. haha


  4. Calvin Mac Author Editor

    Hey Zach,

    Great read! I would have to say your articles are very well written. They are to the point and your site does have quite a bit of gravitas. I’m just getting started in the blogosphere and I’m already noticing that everyone generally has the same material and just tweaked in some manner or form. Design, I believe is extremely important, second to content. If the aesthetics are bad on the site, there’s no incentive to stay and read right? Well anyways, thanks for the read. Any tips would be appreciated greatly seeing how I think you have a great grasp on internet blogging/marketing. Thanks!



  5. Siddhartha Sinha Author Editor

    That is nice and really this blog post is very good.


  6. inspirationfeed Author Editor

    Love the in-depth info listed, great job!


  7. ndmdesign Author Editor

    Thanks, Zach, great post. I think we are getting to the point when our ‘likes’ are our references. Why would you spend your precious time on writing your thoughts on post you just read, if you can just ‘like’ it. Its great to hear from your costumers or visitors what do they actually think. Still so true – Communication is the key to success :)


  8. mike ilz Author Editor

    Great article. The abuse of social share links on blogs is crazy. Great idea to give them an easy way to Tweet something other than the link. I always liked how chris at css-tricks doesn’t have ANY social sharing links on his posts. So if somebody shares one of his posts you know they really wanted to, and will give their real reaction in their Tweet.


  9. wholesale nike jordan Author Editor

    The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for circumstances they want , and if they cannot find them .they make them.


  10. Dvein Author Editor

    Stop Raising Billboards


  11. Joni Author Editor

    I like the twitter feedback bar, if you simply have a web presence it is hard to get user feedback and ever improve, thank for the ideas I will be looking to improve feedback for my product and site.


  12. Della Author Editor

    As someone who is probably you granny’s age, I read two-three hard-print newspapers per day to get my news ssllloooowwwllyyyy. I go to facebook really only to seee what my daughter and her hubby are up to, but no much else. I know I need to do more on the computer to promote my real estate brokerage, but I find face-to-face so much more satisfying and I actuall send out hand-written correspondence with a real stamp on it 100-200 times per month. I know I am a dinosaur, but should I worry?


  13. Anamica Dutta Author Editor

    Here you have told some of the good points


  14. Antonin Januska Author Editor

    Awesome idea, I’m definitely implementing something like that on my site :)


  15. Used Pressure Diggers Author Editor

    very good points, and the quote given is very true.


  16. CCNA Training Author Editor

    Can be possible for all ?


  17. Formula Coupons Author Editor

    Love your quote from Tibor Kalman. Gonna put that one in my back pocket.


  18. ترموکوپل Author Editor

    Awesome idea,


  19. طراحی سایت Author Editor

    wow Thank you!!!!


  20. web tasarım fiyatları Author Editor

    Very good post .Thanks


  21. Cubicle Ninjas Author Editor

    Thanks for pointing this out! I think that when I see a link to Like or Share content, I automatically feel that by clicking I am wholeheartedly endorsing that entity.

    Your Twitter bar gets around this “fear” nicely by allowing me to choose how much I want to endorse your articles. Very cool solution!


  22. yogesh Author Editor

    There has to be more than a general reaction from the readers. Readers should be able to post their reactions, otherwise, whats the point?


  23. Jason Author Editor

    Thanks for the post. I think your right, you should be willing to treat people like people and not just as customers. Keep it coming, good stuff!


  24. Zach Smith Author Editor

    Way cool! Some extremely have valid points! I appreciate you writing this article, also really good


  25. Author Editor

    Very useful and actual theme as for me !Thanks for describing it!


  26. μελάνια εκτυπωτών Author Editor

    Very useful. Didn t know anything of it. Thanks a lot. Very nice site!
    inksave greece.
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  27. trafik sigortası Author Editor

    That’s usefull but not too good for me.


  28. طراحی سایت Author Editor



  29. طراحی سایت حرفه ای Author Editor

    That is nice and really this blog post is very good.



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