How many social shares has my website had?

How many social shares has my website had?

Finding out how many social shares your content has received should, essentially, be a very simple thing to do. When the main social networks launched, they offered share count buttons that would very easily tell you how many times someone had shared the content from a specific URL. You merely needed to use one of these buttons to see for yourself, and to show everyone else visiting your website just how popular your content was.

They became a badge to be worn with pride.

However, the presence of share counts led many website owners and social media marketers to ‘game’ the system and ‘shoot for the shares’ with artificially-inflated share counts created by the use of fake accounts and purchased shares. This led some social media sites, including Twitter, to remove the share counts altogether.

One knock-on issue caused by this was the beautifully displayed share badges for the different social networks, all with their nice share counts, no longer being lined up perfectly because Twitter’s count was missing.

As a side note, it’s worth pointing out that Twitter may have removed share counts, but it’s perfectly fine with allowing bot accounts. Make of that what you will.

Additionally, Facebook has a number of different types of interactions. There are reactions (which used to be known simply as ‘likes’ but now extend to ‘love’, ‘ha ha’, ‘angry face’ and so on), there are comments and there are shares. These are all different types of interaction. Discovering exactly how many interactions you have received becomes even more difficult when you realise you’re often unable to see the interactions your content has received from the shares it has, especially when it’s shared by people who don’t have ‘public’ privacy settings, or it’s shared in groups you cannot see.

The likes and comments you receive on your own Facebook Page’s share of your content could be just a small sample of the interaction it has received.

So how can you see the total number of interactions?

There are various websites that offer, or claim to offer, a way to find out share counts for your content. The trouble is that many of them do not work due to the fact that social networks, Facebook especially, are constantly changing the way their functionality works. Any website that uses an API key for one of the social networks to create a tool gathering data may find the tool broken in the future. This is why, when you search for websites that claim to show you share counts, they often do not work.

For example, this Share Count Checker tool claims to be able to check shares from a number of social media websites. The Facebook count on this is certainly correct, but the others may not be so accurate.

Another tool, Website SEO Checker, has correct stats for Facebook and Google+. However it’s attempts to show LinkedIn shares are not appearing. The website sharescount.com successfully shows Facebook engagements, and doesn’t attempt to show any other social networks.

What we can see from this is that Facebook is readily offering its data via API and it consistently works. However, it has rolled up all of the engagements into one figure. None of these websites actually gives a split figure for shares, likes and comments.

There is a way, however, that you can get the actual share count on Facebook and not have it inflated by the likes and comments. This only works if the share count is sufficient for Facebook to display it, though. The lowest we have seen has been around the 130 mark.

How you track total shares across Facebook of a URL is to find an example on Facebook of where the URL has been shared. It can be from your personal account, from your Facebook Page or from any example of the share. If you can’t find it, you can share it yourself now.

Once you have shared the link on Facebook, or found a suitable example of a share, click the ‘I’ button which is located to the right of the Title, and intersects the image and the title box. When you hover over it the text, ‘Show more information about this link’ pops up. Click on that, and Facebook will give you information about the age of the website domain, when the link was first shared on Facebook and, if it has enough shares, will display a map at the bottom showing how many shares it has received and the locations where it has received the most shares.

This number, under the map, will be your true share count for that link. You can assume that, by subtracting that share count from the totals you receive by checking your link with one of the websites we have mentioned, you will then find out how many likes and comments your link has generated around Facebook on the back of all of those shares.

It’s a shame there isn’t a nice tool where you can check all of this in one place, isn’t it? Maybe Facebook will offer this one day. It would really allow you to see exactly which content works, where it works and how it works.

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.

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