Getting your message out: Embedding social media buttons in emailed event and press release information

Update: In this post I mention making the custom urls is a bit cumbersome so I’ve made this simple online tool to help (experimental so if it doesn’t work let me know 😉
Previously I’ve highlighted the quantifiable value in embedding social media in the marketing strategies for courses. This focused on the benefits of including social media buttons such as Facebook Like and Twitter Tweet buttons in course information pages to enable your audience to ripple information around their social networks.
This advice obviously goes beyond course information and the same techniques can and should be used to get other parts of your institution’s message out. In the post I also highlighted that there is still as much value in enabling people to emailing information as there is in using emerging techniques like Facebook and Twitter. This is testament in the number of press releases and event information messages I still get in my inbox.
Whilst reading a press release I got emailed last night I wanted to share the information with my network on Twitter but I hit a couple of barriers. The release was a full page and as I was having my tea I didn’t have the time or effort to summarise the information into 140 characters and have the hassle of copying and pasting links from the email to my mobile Twitter client.
So what’s the solution. For a start I’m wondering if we are reaching the point where press offices should be including a 140 character summary (with shortened links) in the release notes. I’m also wondering if organisations should be including hyperlinks for prefilled messages for the main social media sites, which when clicked take you to directly to Twitter, Facebook et al. with the status update already filled in for you to submit.
For those in the know you might already either using a share widget (e.g. ShareThis) or some code for a Like or Tweet button. The problem with these is they often use JavaScript or iframes which won’t work in most html email clients. Most of the social network providers do however provide a different way to do it entirely through a hyperlink. So here are three examples of how you can add a share url to an email for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and the related documentation on how to do it:

Share on Facebook1Tweet This2Share on LinkedIn3
Unofficial how-to on Facebook ShareTwitter’s NEW Web IntentShare on LinkedIn Doc

Update: Made a share link generator for these 3 services
1Facebook has an option to include custom text but it’s overwritten by the link page title
2Whilst Twitter have been announcing things like personalised search and picture hosting they forgot to tell developers that they were switching the way status updates are prefilled via url (I picked this info up from here). So far I’ve spotted Google Reader’s Sent To option and Eventbrite’s Tweet This Event in their confirmation link are broken
3 When testing this link as a draft post it didn’t work, but I’m guess it was because this post url wasn’t live
You’ll notice in the support documentation they mention information in the links has to be encoded. I used this online encoder to format my link data.


Adding these custom links to emails is obviously fiddly and add yet another thing to do (to make it easier I wrote this online share link generator tool ;), but I think if you are keen to get your message out then it’s worth the effort to make it easier for your readership to amplify what it is you have to say. Something you might consider if you want to evidence a return on investment is add some extra data to your shared url to track your campaign. So you’d have one link in the body of the email and a slightly different one that gets shared. You may have to delve into the Google Analytics manual for this one, I’m also not sure if parts of the url will be stripped out when shared. Still worth considering.
BTW last night when I asked:

Martin HawkseyIs anyone adding 140 character summaries to press releases yet?View Tweet

Ben Martin @contentmotion said:

Ben Martin@BenjMartin
yup, we use Pitch Engine which has a dedicated “twitter pitch” section. View Tweet

So your homework is to find out about PitchEngine and tell me if it’s any good or if there is a better alternative 😉
PS I’ve been emailing folks I know with this post (email is not dead) feel free to use this canned text:

Hi {someone},
Just came across a blog post you might be interested in. It’s about how you can embed share buttons for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in emails. Could be a great technique to include in our emailed press releases and event information mailings. The guy who wrote the post, Martin Hawksey, has even come up with an online tool to generate the custom links we’d need. More info at
Getting your message out: Embedding social media buttons in emailed event and press release information
PS You can share this post (if html email is enabled) with these links:
Share on Facebook | Tweet This | Share on LinkedIn

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comment 2 comments
  • Caroline

    QR codes are another option, if they can easily be linked to the press release in question (see Krishna De’s post on this).

    • Martin Hawksey

      QR codes would definitely be something else to consider for print. You could even encode the urls for the share buttons (i’d put those in a url shortner just to keep the size needed for the code down)

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