I love social sharing buttons. I like them because they can serve as quiet little social calls-to-action, enticing content readers to share my articles on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. But I love them because they tell me (and everyone else) how many times those articles have been shared. Simple, transparent social media metrics.
And because these buttons are so popular, if I feel an urge to compare the sharing data for my content with that of my competitors' content, I can typically just navigate to the other site and see what that website's buttons say. But some sites don’t have those social sharing buttons set up. And without those public-facing sharing buttons, there’s no good way for me to check up on how many times a given URL was shared.
That’s why I created LinkTally.com. It’s a super simple, free tool that allows you to enter any URL (even from your competitors' sites) to find out how many times it was shared on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.
For instance, while the Wall Street Journal's website includes social sharing buttons for those four main social networks on its articles, it doesn’t show share counts. But by pasting the URL into LinkTally.com, I can see the tally for one of its recent articles:
How Marketers Can Use LinkTally
Okay, so that’s interesting, but how useful is it really? After all, there’s a difference between scholastic “data for data’s sake” and actually actionable, in the trenches, useful data. And I’m only really only concerned with the latter.
Let's consider an example scenario. Let's say I create content for the search engine optimization niche, and I want to identify the ratio of sharing that occurs on each of the four social sites so I can determine if it’s worthwhile to spend time promoting my content on LinkedIn. I’d simply go to a popular SEO site, like SEOMoz, grab a few article URLs, and LinkTally them.
Many sites, including SEOMoz, don’t display LinkedIn sharing count buttons, so without the tool, you’d be in the dark. But with the tool, we see that LinkedIn numbers compare reasonably well with the other three sites. Had we noticed a much lower LinkedIn count across a number of articles, that might be a sign that LinkedIn isn't the most important social network on which to focus your content sharing efforts.
That's not the only thing LinkTally is useful for. There are a ton of other smart ways you can make use of this little tool:
- Compare the success of blog article topics on a number of sites to brainstorm new content ideas.
- Determine which content formats (e.g. infographics vs. text-based-content vs. video content, etc.) are most popular for social sharing.
- Pinpoint which social networks to use to help launch certain types of content in the future? (For example, if you notice that infographics take off on Facebook, or your LinkedIn audience prefers content about certain topics.)
- Check out the social reach of various blogs to identify targets for guest blogging.
- Measure the social success of your competitors' content for benchmarking purposes.
In fact, I bet you can come up with a few more awesome ways to use this tool yourself. Try the tool out for yourself, and share your own ideas in the comments below!