Social Media Integration Guide

March 30th, 2011 by Christian Skelly

With the growth of social media, marketers are integrating and measuring social media within other online channels, especially websites and emails. Focusing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn the following overview outlines some of the options you have to integrate social media channels within the online layer of your business.

Facebook

Share Button (Web, Email): This is still the way to go for HTML emails as it is simply a link to a URL. You can customize the Share link like any regular hyperlink. Use this handy tool to see how your link will appear on Facebook: developers.facebook.com/tools/lint/

You should include the special Open-Graph meta-tags in the head section of the click destination html page to effectively display the image, title and URL of your link. See here: developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph/

Like Button (Web): This is an alternative to the “share” button, prominently displays an image, link and description on your profile.
Good utility here to generate the correct “like” link and meta-tags to display the post correctly. The main advantage the like button has over the share button is the ability to link the button to Facebook insights data through an app or page.

Like Box (Web): This is a great way to accumulate “Likes” for your Facebook page from your own website. Customize the widget here: developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like-box/

These are a few of the options available for you to effectively market yourself on Facebook. More integration possibilities can be found here: developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/

Twitter

To share the word about your event or product on Twitter, place a link in your email or on your web page that allows the user to update their Twitter status with your promotional message, URL etc. This is a simple link in the form of: http://twitter.com/?status=YOUR MESSAGE HERE. Any web addresses referenced in your message should be shortened using a service such as http://bit.ly.

Some great Twitter resources for integration can be found at their site here:
twitter.com/about/resources

LinkedIn

There are a couple of simple ways to share a web page on LinkedIn. Firstly there is a convenient widget which involves an easy copy and paste into the code of your web page. You can take a look at your options here: linkedin.com/publishers.

Secondly, to share a link from an HTML email or web page you can simply point a link to LinkedInʼs specially constructed Share url. This URL should contain a URL encoded string of important information. As with Facebook, placing the Open Graph meta tags in the destination page will add a layer of aesthetic control over your share links. Specifics on the format of this link can be found here: developer.linkedin.com/docs/DOC-1075

3rd Party Service

Another option is to create your share links is to use a third-party service such as “Share This” or “Add This”. These sites provide you a generic widget which you can place on a static web page. It’s a fast, easy solution but it’s not ideal, because it promotes the third-party application, rather than your entity. For HTML emails, this is not an option due to the high reliance on Javascript.

Official Developer Docs

Under the Hood: To build custom social media apps you will need to dig a little deeper (or Contact us). The official documentation to the services can be found on the web here:

Facebook: developers.facebook.com/
Twitter: dev.twitter.com/
LinkedIn: developer.linkedin.com/index.jspa

More information on the Open Graph Protocol