Tech Talk: Social Media Friendly Sites – How to Make it EASY for People to Share You in Social Media

Ever come across an article that you know your friends on Facebook would love only to find it next to impossible to share via social media? We’re all in a bit of a hurry these days feeling rather busy and rushed. Let’s face it – if it isn’t easy to click a button and share it to Facebook or Twitter, it’s not going to happen.

Take International Naked Gardening Day, as an example. I knew my Facebook peeps would love it so I looked around for the standard one-click share button for Facebook. Nothing. How about Twitter? My followers would love it too. Any “Tweet This” button? Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Arghhhhh.

Frustrating. I mean c’mon if you want me to tell the world about your International Naked Gardening Day post, don’t make me jump through hoops to do it.

In order for me to share this site with my social media networks, I now have to:

#1: Copy and paste the URL - Double click on URL, right mouse click, and click on Copy

#2: Open Facebook in a new tab – Click for tab open, type ‘facebook.com’, hit Enter, enter name/email and click Login

#3: Post it on my wall – Right mouse click, click Paste, click Post button.

That’s a total of 10 clicks and approximately 20+ keyboard strokes (depending on your username and password all to benefit someone else by sharing their post.

Hint: in today’s busy world if you want someone to do something, make it SUPER SIMPLE and easy to do with as few clicks as possible.

One way to do this for your readers is to add a Facebook Share button and a Tweet button to your pages and posts.

If you have WordPress (which I highly recommend you do), then you’ll want to install two pugins: “FaceBook Share (New)” and “TweetMeme Retweet Button”. It shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes to install and configure both of them.

After the plugins are installed, you have the ability to show the buttons on pages and/or posts, at the top and/or bottom of the page and whether to show the number of times the page/post has been shared or tweeted, along with a few other options.

If you’re not using WordPress, you’ll have to go manually install code for each of these on your site or in your HTML files. You may have to get your web designer to do this for you. For a Facebook Like button go to http://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/ and for Twitter go to http://twitter.com/about/resources/tweetbutton. You’ll find instructions for each on those pages.

One last suggestion: Tell your readers or viewers what you want them to do. If you want them to share it on Facebook, then tell them to. If you want them to tweet it, then tell them to. They will. Believe me. I do it all the time and it works.

Now before you go anywhere, share this on Facebook and leave a comment below. Tell me if your site is “Socially Sharable” or not and if not, what are you going to do about it? Like in the next hour?

Want simple, “digestible” online marketing tips delivered to your inbox every Tuesday? Sign up for Sprout at http://TracyMatthewman.com

Business 101: How to Get your Website up FAST! A Beginners Guide to Building a WordPress Site

Remember back in the good old days when if you wanted a web site, you had to hire a web programmer? Thanks to tools like WordPress you can get a basic site up and running in less than an hour. All you need to get started is a domain name!

What makes WordPress so appealing for non-programmers is how easy it is to install. I promise you the most time consuming part is trying to find the theme that best represents your business personality (see the bottom of the post for a few resources to get you started finding a theme).

Before you start, the first thing you want to do is to make sure you have a hosting package that has the “one-click WordPress install” option. If you have a host such as WebHosting Buzz, Bluehost, or GoDaddy that option is in your cPanel. Note: the screenshots included are based on the configuration of the WebHosting Buzz configuration – yours may look slightly different.

Ready? Grab your kitchen timer and see how long it takes you to do the following steps:

5-Minute WordPress Install Instructions

#1: Log into your host company cPanel and find the Fantastico icon (normally towards the bottom and a pale blue smiley face)

#2: Select “WordPress”

#3: Next choose “New Installation” and you will be guided through the next several steps. The most important thing at this point is if you have multiple domains hosted on the same site be 100% certain you are not over-writing any existing website.

#4: Under “Install in Directory” leave this blank

#5: Fill in the next few fields as indicated and click “Install WordPress”

*WordPress Security tip * Do not chose “Admin” as the admin name – chose something that is a little harder for hackers to guess.

#6: You’re done!

#7: Log into your WordPress dashboard at the URL they provide – most likely in this type of format: http://yourwebsite.com/wp-admin.php

By default the free theme 2010 is installed. Check the resources at the end of this post for free theme collections.

WordPress Dashboard Settings and Configurations

Let’s do some backend maintenance under the Settings section of your brand new site. None of these steps are actually required; you can start blogging or creating your pages now, if you wanted.

On the left, scroll down to the Settings section and go to “General”.

  • Add or change your Site Title and Tagline as you would like. Some themes will show the tagline and others will not.
  • Membership: I suggest leaving this box unchecked.
  • Change your timezone, date and time format as you desire.
  • Be sure to save your changes and then go back to Settings and we’ll go to “Reading”.

Determine if you want your home page to show your latest blog posts or if you want a dedicated home page. If you want a dedicated home page and a different page for your blog then there are a few things you will want to do. On the right side menu go to “Pages” and create the page you want to be your home page (or rename the one that was installed by default). Create another page called “Blog”.

Go back to your settings and chose “Reading” and select the bullet for “A static page” and chose the pages from the dropdown options presented.

Save changes and go to Discussion settings – update this entire section as you want.

If you’ve made changes to your Discussion settings save them and then hop back over to Privacy. If you are using this site for business, then please be sure the option to be visible to everyone is selected. If your new site is for personal reasons, you can decide which of the two options you prefer.

Last, but not least, let’s edit your “Permalinks” – the option you chose is entirely up to you. However, many SEO experts will advise that you at least choose “Custom Structure” and use, at minimum, %postname% as the structure.

You officially have a site that is ready to go!

Most certainly you can (and will) spend several more hours of work by doing any of the following:

  • Setting up a service, such as Feedburner, to allow visitors to sign up for new posts via RSS or email
  • Install a commenting system, such as Disqus and set up your profile (be sure to add your avatar)
  • Set up Askimet or G.A.S.P. to help reduce the amount of spam comments
  • Install plug-ins (my list of favorites)
  • Add widgets to your sidebar (depending on your theme)
  • Be sure to get a Gravatar (if using the WordPress commenting system)

Note: Most free themes will have either (or both) a Meta and Blogroll section on them. They can normally be removed by digging into the “Sidebar” code under Appearance>Editor. Some free themes will also have coding in the footer. You may be able to remove it but often it is hard to find and remove.

Need help finding a WordPress theme? Try one of these lists of free theme collections:

Premium themes typically start at about $25. If you want a truly unique and one-of-a-kind website, then you will want to hire a designer to custom code and design your site.

So how long did it take you to set up your basic framework on the new site?

If you want more tips and tricks on using WordPress, stop by my blog where I share time saving tips, fun software finds and more!

Gadget Guide: Plugins and Widgets Galore – Top (More than) 10 WordPress Plugins

Plugins are a quick and (relatively) easy way to enhance your WordPress site. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination with everything from plugins to protect to plugins for play!

Now for the stern warning: You remember when your mother would put a hand on her hip for and point her other hand firmly at the back of your head, almost as if she was trying to zap you? Sound familiar? Well be prepared – my finger is pointing.

You need to be aware that when installing plugins, things can go wrong! In a perfect world, we could compile a wish list of fantastical plugins, hit the right buttons and activate it all and everything would work. Not true. Sometimes it can be a little tricky to get all the plugins on the same page.

Introducing new elements to your site should be thought out and applied with a tad bit of caution. Be ready to pull back and revamp your plan. Better yet, setup a test site where you can test the new plugin first to avoid a site meltdown due to poor planning.

The WordPress Essentials:

Askimet – This comes core with any installed WordPress account, just remember to set it up! It’s easy to setup, really. Stop comment and trackback spam in its tracks, plus you’ll save yourself a whole lot of time going through comments.  Sign up for your WordPress.org account to retrieve your Askimet API.  Enter it in the ‘Plugins’, then ‘Askimet Configuration’. Done.

Bad Behavior - Keep at least some of the nastiness away from your site with a little advanced protection. Again you need to sign up for a 3rd party account to ensure all the features are working, but it’s well worth it.

WordPress Database Manager – A very comprehensive scheduled backup manager. But please take a big highlighter and note: this only covers your database contents, NOT your customized theme or plugin files. Use your FTP to backup those files.

ALL in One SEO Pack – Another one of those standard additions all sites should have in one form or another. SEO is a hot topic and the ALL in One SEO Pack plugin makes all that metadata easy to insert on a post by post basis, something that Google appreciates.

Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin will create a Google compliant XML-Sitemap of your WordPress blog. It supports all of the WordPress generated pages as well as custom ones. Every time you edit or create a post, your sitemap is updated and all major search engines that support the sitemap protocol, like ASK.com, Google, MSN Search and YAHOO, are notified about the update. You gotta love automation!

Google Analytics for WordPress – Automatically track and segment all of your outbound links. Note: The Google Analyticator Plugin also is popular and provides very similar functionality.

Plugins for Sharing:

Blogplay (a.k.a Sociable) – Automatically add links to your favorite social bookmarking sites on your posts, pages and in your RSS feed. You can choose from 99 different social bookmarking sites!

WP-FacebookConnect – Who doesn’t want to link Facebook up to everything, including their blog?  This little plugin makes it easy. Although do keep in mind, you can go directly to the source (meaning Facebook) and get simple HTML code to embed the information yourself.

Tweetmeme – The Tweetmeme plugin adds a wonderful little Twitter counter to your site. Another popular Twitter plugin is Tweet This and now Twitter.com also has it’s own Tweet Button, plus a nice way to customize and share your own feed and lists.

Greet Box – Greet Box allows you to customize a message to the person landing on your site based on where they came from.  For example, a Facebook user would see a completely different message than someone who stumbled-upon or googled your site. Another handy feature is when a visitor clicks through from Twitter, they will see a message suggesting they tweet the post and follow you on Twitter. You can also set a default greeting message for new visitors (not matching any referrer URLs) suggesting they subscribe to your RSS feed.

Disqus Comment System – Disqus gives you the ability to allow a commenter to use Facebook, Twitter, OpenID, Yahoo and other networks to authenticate and post comments (a good reason right there to add it to your roster).  Heck Mashable.Com uses Disqus exclusively to handle their site comments, and if they use it, well I would recommend it.

Subscribe to Comments – If you opt not to use Disqus, then I would seriously consider adding this robust plugin.  It enables commenters to sign up for e-mail notification of subsequent entries. The plugin includes a full-featured subscription manager that your commenters can use to unsubscribe to certain posts, block all notifications, or even change their notification e-mail address!

CommentLuv – Want to give a little love back to your commenters? This plugin will visit the site of the comment author while they type their comment and retrieve a selection of their last blog posts, tweets or digg submissions which they can choose one from to include at the bottom of their comment when they click submit.

Behind the Scenes Plugins:

WP-Super-Cache - Fantastic page-caching system to improve performance of your blog, even under heavy traffic.

Page Link Manager - Easily removes pages from site navigation, which is very handy if using your site as a website.

TinyMCE Advanced – It’s not ideal for advanced editing within your WordPress post or page box, but it is an improvement from the basic options.

Widget Logic - This plugin gives every widget an extra control field called “Widget logic” that lets you control the pages that the widget will appear on.

FAQ-Tastic – FAQ-Tastic Lite is the ultimate tool in enabling your site visitors to interact with you and ask question about you, your site, services or even your products. Whatever questions your visitors ask, FAQ-Tastic is flexible enough to handle multiple categories of questions on your site.

Gravity Forms – Need to add a form to your site? Try this paid plugin. It’s well worth the minimal cost as it saves you time and should give you all the features you need for a form.

TDO Mini Forms – This plugin allows non-registered users and/or subscribers (also configurable) to submit and edit posts and pages. New posts and edits are kept in “draft” until an admin can publish them (also configurable).

WP-Polls – WP-Polls is extremely customizable via templates and css styles and there are tons of options for you to choose to ensure that WP-Polls runs the way you want. It now supports multiple selection of answers.

WishList Member – This is a powerful membership script that can turn any WordPress blog into a full blown membership site, or simply setup secure pages for certain groups. The best part is, it’s easy to use.

Editorial Calendar – Want a visual way to lay out all of your future posts? Thanks to Chris Brogan we implemented this tool on the MOMeoMagazine site.

A Few Flashy (and Functional) Features:

Events Calendar – A diverse replacement for the original calendar included with WordPress adding many useful functions to keep track of your events. The plugin has an easy-to-use admin section that displays a big readable calendar and lets you add and delete events.

NextGEN Gallery – A fully integrated Image Gallery plugin for WordPress with a Flash slideshow option, including many sophisticated features.

Featured Content Gallery – Featured Content Gallery is a WordPress plugin that creates an automated rotating image gallery of your posts or pages for use anywhere within your theme.  Advanced options allow inclusion of custom thumbnail images, custom text, and custom gallery styles and transitions.

Advertising Manager – This plugin will manage and rotate your Google Adsense and other ads on your WordPress blog. It automatically recognizes many ad networks including Google Adsense, AdBrite, Adify, AdGridWork, Adpinion, Adroll, Chitika, Commission Junction, CrispAds, OpenX, ShoppingAds, Yahoo!PN, and WidgetBucks. Unsupported ad networks can be used as well.

Do you have a favorite WordPress plugin that’s not listed above?  Please share yours in the comment section below.

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