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Comments August 21, 2009

AddThis, ShareThis, Getting the Word Out About Your Site

Filed under: Advertising, Board Management — Dave Rathbun @ 9:53 pm CommentsComments (4) 

Recently I had someone suggest that I look at a service from ShareThis.com. What I found after reviewing their service was that it would allow me to add a flash pop-up menu to any page of my board. This menu provides an easy way for people to promote my site for me, which is about the cheapest form of advertising there is. :) The pop-up includes links to Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of other “social” sites, and I’m sure the service provider intends to add more as they become available. However when I started researching what it would take to put ShareThis on my boards, I ran into a slight bit of confusion. Their terms of service page said this:

Registration. In order to have access and use of the ShareThis Widgets, registration is not required but is strongly recommended.

Yet in order to “get the button” they required me to register. When I sent a note to the support group, I was told that they no longer offered a “no-registration” option for their service. Why do they require me to register at all? In order to provide analytics and reports that show how many people are sharing content from my site, they need to have a unique identifier for my account. Since I’m not (at this point anyway) really interested in more reports and analytics, I decided to pass.

Now that I knew what to look for, I quickly found AddThis.com. It seems to be the same type of service but they offer an option that does not require me to register in order to use it. I spent a few minutes looking over their site and quickly selected the options and format that I wanted to use. I already have a toolbar with various icons at the top and bottom of my topic pages, so it was really easy to add one more icon to the mix. Here is the final product in action:

With this new icon, when someone sees a topic they like they can easily add it to their favorites, their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any of the other social media sites supported by the service. How hard was it to add this code to my site? Not hard at all.

First I had to establish a link to the Add This javascript. I opened my viewtopic_body.tpl file (this is for phpBB2 in case that’s not clear) and added this line at the top:

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://s7.addthis.com/js/250/addthis_widget.js"></script>

Next, a few configuration options to specify which links I want emphasized versus those that I want relegated to the “more” page or removed altogether:

<script type="text/javascript">
var addthis_config = {
        services_compact: 'blogger, linkedin, delicious, live, digg, reddit, facebook, twitter, favorites, more',
        services_exclude: 'print'

I did a bit of tweaking to the list of services in order to get them to come out alphabetically in columns, otherwise they came out in rows. :-? I also excluded the “print” option because if you look at the icons in the screenshot above you will see that I already have a print function that uses an alternate template.

Finally, I included this code in the spot where I wanted the icon to appear:

<a href="http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php" class="addthis_button" style="text-decoration:none;"><img src="http://s7.addthis.com/static/btn/sm-plus.gif" width="16" height="16" border="0" alt="Share" /></a>

That was it. Short, sweet, and functional. If at some point I decide I want to know more about who is using this icon (and what they’re sharing where) I can always register with AddThis and they will start tracking activity. Since the main driver javascript is hosted by AddThis.com I will automatically get any updates they provide to their service. Finally, as they say on their site, I get access to “Over 50 social networks in one button. And growing.” That works for me, and let’s others work for me too. Not a bad deal at all.


  1. Thanks for using AddThis!

    Jim Lane
    Director of User Experience
    Clearspring.com & AddThis.com

    Comment by Jim Lane — August 23, 2009 @ 7:30 am

  2. Are you collecting usage statistics on how many people are using this “AddThis” thing on your site? I have a feeling that they don’t get used that often.

    Comment by Dog Cow — August 24, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

  3. Dog Cow, to be honest I don’t care. :) That’s why I went with AddThis instead of ShareThis because they offer a non-registration option. With registration I would get a tracking ID (much like I have one for Google Adsense) and I’m sure lots of statistics. If / when it becomes important to me, I will register and get that going.

    Because the code is hosted by AddThis I can’t “mod” it to capture my own statistics.

    Comment by Dave Rathbun — August 25, 2009 @ 10:07 pm

  4. I’d only add it to my site if I had a good feeling that people would use it.

    Comment by Dog Cow — August 27, 2009 @ 10:34 am

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