Social Media – It’s everywhere. And businesses use it for market research and intelligence. They use it for branding. They use it for Lead Generation. They use it for interactivity. And some of us understand that it’s tied at the hip with SEO, PPC and other Online Marketing methodologies.

5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic

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I recently wrote an article for the company I work for, entitled “5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic to your Vacation Rental Website” and it’s pretty powerful stuff.

Even if you are not in the Vacation Rental industry, these SEO or Search Engine Optimization methods and logic, that I go into great detail about in the article, are extremely beneficial to most industries.

My boss even gave me accolades in our meetings – it’s gotten the most re-Tweets, the most shares, the most likes and so on, compared to any other one thus far on the site, so please go read it. 🙂

5 Tactics to Boost Local Traffic to your Vacation Rental Website

21 Hot Online Marketing Articles

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It’s Friday night and I thought I’d drop this little Online Marketing Article Roundup into the mix…

One morning this past week, like most mornings, my Inbox was busting at the seams with Online Marketing newsletters, articles, tips, guides and so on.

It’s rare that I have the time to read them, letting my Outlook Filters, Rules and Alerts do their organizing tricks. Of course, with the intention of visiting them at some point in the near future.

But last night, after I finished teaching my Kung Fu class, I opened a few of them and found some interesting reads.

21 Online Marketing Articles to Read Today

We’ve got 6 SEO Articles, 4 Google Articles, 6 Social Media Articles, 3 User Experience (UX) Articles, and 2 WordPress Articles. There may even a Bonus Article at the bottom!

SEO

Google

Google

Social Media

Social Media

User Experience

User Experience

WordPress

WordPress

Bonus

Bonus

Do You Like Facebook Reactions?

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Ever come across a tear-jerking video or post on that well-known social media giant, Facebook, and struggle with how to digitally react?

Sure. Everyone has. You don’t necessary Like that a friend’s family-member is in the hospital, but you want to show support and give the post a boost, with the hopes of others will see it – be notified, share emotional support, etc.

Liking something just doesn’t seem to cover many emotional reactions we may have to a story.

Facebook has finally upped their game in this area.

They’ve now introduced more post reactions. If you hover your mouse over the "Like" link, you’re now presented with additional options.

There’s the Thumbs-Up, representing the typical Like. But now you also have Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry, along with their acompanying cute emoticons.

But this has been released for a few weeks now, actually. And although I, personally, have been making use of the new choices, I am only seeing slight traction from others. What say you? Are you using them? Do you Like them?

Simple Social Icons – Add or Re-order in 9 Simple Steps

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Simple Social Icons Fontello

For the Short and Sweet instructions, Click Here. Otherwise, read on.

You’re running a WordPress site and wanted some cool "Follow Me" social icons your users could click on and get social.

So you install the Simple Social Icons plugin (especially if you’ve got a Genesis theme). The plugin is easy-to-use and cool, but…

You soon realize that there’s no options for re-ordering the icons or adding new ones, like Yelp. 🙁

You search online and find links to a few tutorials. Only…They ask you to become a paid member in order to read the tutorial!

This happened to me on a recent site re-design, so after digging around I figured it out and thought I would share. For Free.

Remember: If the plugin is updated, you will have to do this all over again. Unless the developers build in the options in a new release.

Point to remember: The "image" used to link to a site = an icon = a font (think like the font Wingdings) = a Glyph.

The Nine Simple Steps – Detailed Version

Simple Social Icons Plugin Editor

WordPress Plugin editor simple social icons

In the back-end Admin area of your WordPress site, go to Plugins - Editor. Select Simple Social Icons from the drop-down box on the top right and click "Select".

Click on simple-social-icons/simple-social-icons.php.

Open a new tab in your browser and go to www.fontello.com

Open your preferred code editing software. Mine is Dreamweaver. You could also just use Notepad or something similar for this, and use the Edit – Find functions to locate the bits that you will need to work with.

Get your preferred FTP software handy (I use FilezillaIt’s Free :)). If you rely on cPanel, for uploading files, open up a new tab and get it ready.

Write down / type up a complete list of all the sites / icons you will want. Decide what order you want the icons to be in. If you only need to add one site, then there’s no need for this.

Fontello's SERPs for Yelp

Fontello Search – Yelp

Go to the browser tab with www.fontello.com.

Type the name of the first site into the search bar. For example, yelp. The search functionality happens as you type and it will show a list of available icons for this site. In the yelp example, it pulled up two: Font Awesome and Zocial. Pick one and click it.

Look over at the red button on the right, labeled "Download webfont". You should now see it saying (1). This number will increase each time you select one, like a shopping cart.

Go back over to the search box and type in your next one. Click the one you want & Download number goes up. Continue doing this until you have all you need.

If you forget which ones you have selected, click on "Customize Names" and you can see a list. You may have noticed there are many icons available, with only a small percentage being the social website ones.

So if you see one you like (that’s not a website) and select it, make sure you come to the "Customize Names" area, click on the icon’s name after "icon-" and give it a name that you can remember.

You might have to do this anyway on some of them. For example, the name of Flickr’s icon is icon-dot-2, which will probably be hard to remember – even if the icon is actually two dots; so I’d change it to icon-Flickr, but it’s up to you.

Now, once you have all of the ones you want selected, click on "Download webfont (number of icons)".

Save the downloaded zip file somewhere you can easily access it.

Extract the contents to a similarly-accessible location. I tend to use my desktop for temporary use / immediately-available files.

Go to your code editor and open /font/fontello.svg from the folder you downloaded & extracted.

The majority of the code is comprised of <glyph> tags.

There should be one <glyph> tag for every site/icon that you selected and downloaded from fontello.com. But they might not be in the order that you want them in.

Although the order here does not affect the order on your site, it would help to put them in the proper order to make things easier on yourself.

So just take each complete tag, for example:

<glyph glyph-name="youtube" unicode="&#xe800;" d="…numbers, letters, dashes…" horiz-adv-x="857.1" />

and copy and paste them in the order that you want and then save the file but don’t close it.

We will be going back and forth between our the plugin editor in our browser and this file.

Any time you are editing code, be very careful what you select, copy, paste. Moving or deleting any parenthesis, semi-colon, etc. that you don’t need to, will potentially break your site.

Save your work.

Go over to the browser tab with the plugin editor opened to simple-social-icons/simple-social-icons.php.

Luckily, the plugin developers commented their code, so it’s very easy to find what we need to work with.

Scroll down through the page and take a look. PHP comments are usually labels saying "This is what this bit of code below will do" and looks like this:

	  /**
	  * Default widget option values.
	  */

There are three blocks of code that we will be working with, each labelled by a comment above it. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, use the browser’s built-in Edit-Find functionality.

  1. Default widget option values.
    This creates an instance of each of our icons.
  2. Social profile glyphs.
    This assigns each icon name a font number; it’s how our fontello.svg file & this file work together.
  3. Social profile choices.
    This sets up the HTML code (and individual classes for CSS) to display each icon link on the front-end of your site.

We want each of these code blocks & icons to be in the same order as we set up over in fontello.svg.

Let’s look at the first code block, "Default widget option values.".

The first 12 or so lines establish the default CSS values. I wouldn’t suggest messing with these – just use the regular Admin options or CSS to change them. You can if you want, but these values will be the norm defaults.

After that, we start getting into the names of the actual icons.

The one that is listed in my code first is 'bloglovin' => '',. But let’s say I wanted Yelp to be first on my list, as I’ve ordered them in fontello.svg. I would select that line of code and copy. Then put my cursor in front of it and hit enter (re-adjust the spacing) and paste that bit in the new line. And then I’d change the bloglovin text to yelp. Do this for the whole list.

Scroll down to the next code block, "Social profile glyphs." and do the same thing – place the lines of code in the desired order.

Next, we need to edit the values for each icon in this code block. Go back to fontello.svg (you should have been going back & forth between these two anyway, to help you with the order) and look at your first <glyph> tag. Each tag has four attributes, but we are only interested in the first two: glyph-name and unicode.


<glyph glyph-name="bloglovin" unicode="&#xe800;" d="…numbers, letters, dashes…" horiz-adv-x="857.1" />

Grab the unicode value, go back to the plugin-editor screen and paste it into the spot between the single quotes for the relevant glyph. Be sure to include the & (ampersand), # (hash mark) and ; (semi-colon), but not double or single quotes. Do this for the whole list.

Scroll down to the next code block, "Social profile choices." and place the lines of code in the desired order.

Be Careful. An entire section here looks like this:

				'bloglovin' => array(
				'label'   => __( 'Bloglovin URI', 'ssiw' ),
				'pattern' => '<li class="social-bloglovin"><a href="%s" %s>' . $this->glyphs['bloglovin'] . '</a></li>',
			),

Take note of the single quotes and especially the parenthesis + comma at the end.

Use the same process for those custom or newly-created glyphs; grab a block of relevant code, copy & paste it where it belongs in the list. Then change all the name values to be the proper ones, including the li class. There are four places in each block of code where the name should be changed.

If you want to edit the output HTML, go for it. If you’re not familiar with HTML and/or PHP, I’d just leave them alone and only move the code segments and edit the text.

Save the file.

We’re done with the hard part. 🙂 You can close your code editor program after you save your work.

Go to your FTP program or cPanel. Navigate to the plugin folder /wp-content/plugins/simple-social-icons/.

Go to the folder you downloaded and extracted. Move the file config.json into the plugin’s font folder. Yes, you want to replace the one that is currently there with the new one you downloaded.

Don’t worry about the CSS folder.

Move the font folder over to the plugin root folder on your site, replacing the old one.

Close your FTP and code editor programs.

In the Admin area of your site, go to Appearance – Widgets. Drag and Drop the Simple Social Icons widget where you want it. Check it out! There’s your new site inputs and with everything in the right order.

Go to the front end of your site and make sure to flush your browser cache. And then voila! New Simple Social Icons in the order you want, customized the way you want!

The Nine Simple Steps – Short Version

SHORT & SWEET

  1. Go to www.fontello.com
  2. Select icons, Customize the names, Download and Extract
  3. Open /font/fontello.svg in editor & reorder glyph tags
  4. Go to WordPress Admin – Plugins – Editor – Simple Social Icons – simple-social-icons.php. See 3 blocks of relevant code. Reorder & Add/Edit text values.
  5. Replace Unicode values in plugin file with those in the downloaded fontello.svg.
  6. Edit HTML & CSS classes to your liking
  7. Replace config.json in plugin’s font folder with downloaded one (it’s in the root)
  8. Replace font folder with the one you downloaded – ignore CSS folder
  9. Flush browser cache and have fun!

Big Data = Little People

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Big Data

Wikipedia will tell you that Big Data "is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications".

Online Marketers have jumped all over this (not-so-new) Big Data concept, buzzword and hype. Why? Well it’s fairly obvious. Data = Information and Information = Power. But beyond that, it’s what we use in Marketing; email lists, social media profiles, analytics, CRM (Customer / Client Relationship Management), and many other things are opportunities to fine-tune our message, our audience, our websites, our understanding…

There are blatant advantages in having access to deep data in marketing. However, there is also the innate potential that is not so good; and it is happening right now.

Just look at the recent hot trend of Infographics. During 2011 – 2013, I have seen so many of them, but now we are seeing fewer and fewer as it’s become saturated (Marketers and saturation in the same sentence? Say it ain’t so… 😛), over-hyped, over-used, mis-used and just plain tired.

But think for a moment why they popped up in the first place. Unless you’re an Accountant or someone who just gets overly-excited by seeing a gazillion numbers in a spreadsheet, which I doubt, then you need a way to visualize the information being thrown your way.

I’m searching for employment. So I’m looking at Job Boards, LinkedIn, classifieds, blogs – you name it – but basically I am reading a whole lot of Job Descriptions. And I learn a lot from this activity, besides merely collecting Big Data:

  • What the hiring trends are
  • What recruiters, hiring managers and HR Pros believe certain technologies, buzzwords and more mean
  • What these people believe are best practices
  • What they feel is good experience or knowledge to fulfill these roles are
  • What the best KPI (Key Performance Indicators) are
  • What the latest trend, tool, methodology, etc. is and how important it is to them
  • And much more

For the most part, what I learn is both disappointing (as someone fairly knowledgeable in the field) and frustrating (as someone looking to fill these roles). For example, I see many companies with e-commerce websites who want Online Marketers or SEO Pros to specifically have X years in Retail. This tells me that they really do not understand what is involved in these areas; yes – understanding the retail holiday shopping calendar is important – but this is common "marketing" knowledge; yes we need to understand taxes, shipping, etc. and again – this is "marketing" knowledge. Or how about the ads that say they want a Front-End Developer (and this always kills me), yet the Job Requirements list a host of Server-Side Languages. And a bit more relevant…Social Media Marketer needs to be expert in analytics, CRM, CMS, (Content Management System) jQuery and other completely irrelevant things…

Another area of example is the last item in that list up there – the "Latest & Greatest" craze. People listen to podcasts, read blogs and other media, attend conferences, etc. and hear about the hottest new thing. And they gobble it up. This piece of "Big Data" would be called Early Adopters.

Those rare good Marketing Managers source and read a whole lotta Case Studies. And this is a good thing. I, for one, love Case Studies. They help you learn, help you sell, help you win. Often. However…These two things go hand-in-hand more often than not: Latest & Greatest + Case Studies. Take a look at it and think for a minute – Twitter comes out – everybody loves it – it’s the coolest ever! All sorts of studies, all sorts of best practices, all sorts of new tools and methodologies. And then there is our earlier example of Infographics. But look at it today – yes all that stuff is still out there. But now we realize it may not be for everybody. We realize that it takes some sort of magic to have decent ROI (Return On Investment) in its use. Or does it?

You are doing it wrong

Bad Big Data?

So am I saying Big Data, Data Visualization, Case Studies, Social Media, Actionable Data and all the other goodies are bad? Definitely not. However I am saying something similar to a recently popular Facebook meme. You’ve seen them – funny photos with a specific quote – for example the picture of a bus in NYC, where the front LED sign says something like "Moon" and the quote says something like "Go Home bus, You’re Drunk" or "You’re Doing it Wrong". Yep – that’s what I want to say to a whole lot of folks out there – you’re doing it wrong.

Yeah, yeah, I know – Who am I to say such a thing? How Dare I? And so on. But hear me out.

Although I have been feeling this way for quite a while now, it wasn’t until recently when I began re-reading (for like the 10th time) a certain collaborative work that hoped to give a clue to these very people. Reading it for the tenth time should tell you something:

  1. It’s an older work, and more importantly
  2. It’s valuable and still relevant

That last piece is the most bothersome. It’s a very popular work – many people have read it, thought they understood it and implemented it in the way they understood it. And that’s where I have to say yet again You Totally Missed the Boat, Missed the Point; in short – You’re Doing It Wrong.

So get on your thinking caps and take off your PR Magical Buzzwords from the Big Data Boss Hats and let’s get cracking!

Listen to Market

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Listen

Listen to Market

It still surprises me how many people, businesses, big brands and even agencies miss this extremely important yet basic concept: Listen to Market.

Yes it’s a double entendre; a play on words, if you will.

You need to listen in order to market and you must also listen to your market.

These concepts seem so common sense that it almost feels ridiculous to point them out, however… These concepts are often not being utilized by many businesses.

From targeting irrelevant keywords to being unaware of waves of negative online reputation, the list of examples go on and on.

Yes, you’re in business to make money. But does the money you receive just come a poppin out of Narnia via wardrobe? Or is there…Hmmm…another entity that gets a minus where you get a plus?

Getting the hint? You actually have to pay some attention to your customers. You have to know your audience. You have to listen to your ideal market.

Ideal customer personas. Target markets. Social Media. Comments. Buzz. Conversations. Relevance. Solutions. Trust. And many others.

These things had better be more than just a trumped up list of buzz terms in your business strategy and methodology.

Listen to Market.

10 Hottest YouTube Videos of 2012

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We love Youtube and all it has to offer, don’t we? It can be used for marketing purposes, training, education, communication, and just plain fun. Of course the N00B comments we could do without.

Here’s a quick look at ten of the hottest Youtube videos gone viral of 2012.

  1. KONY 2012
  2. Gangnam Style
  3. A Dramatic Surprise on a Quiet Street
  4. Opera duo Charlotte & Jonathan — Britain’s Got Talent 2012 audition
  5. Call Me Maybe
  6. Catch the Ice Dude
  7. Somebody That I Used to Know
  8. Donna the Deer Lady
  9. Arrested Drunk Guy Sings Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
  10. Golden Eagle snatches kid

I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did!

Quality vs. Quantity

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Quality vs. Quantity

Quality vs. Quantity

Which is better?

If you know me at all, you’ll bet I choose Quality; and you’d be right – every time.

Consider all of the times you’ve dealt with Customer Service for a large company. Out of all the interactions you had, what percentage of them were pretty awesome? I’m going to take a stab and say that it’s a very low number.

So if you have a bad experience, what do you do? Perhaps you complain. And do the companies care? Do they actually do anything about it?

Think now about the "Occupy *blank*" movements. Quite literally, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have complained to governments and big business to change their ways. And what positive change has that brought about?

Now head over to oDesk.com. Do a search for an SEO project or long term job. Look at the rates being bid upon, look at the average rate the employer pays; it’s pennies on the dollar.

Go to LinkedIn.com. Look at the discussions in an SEO group – if the group manager is slack (like most are), then you’ll see the majority of "discussions" are mainly spam. Get bold and become a manager of a group like I did. Delete those topics, send warning posts, delete shady members and…it never stops – they don’t get the message nor care.

Or how about reporting Spam email messages. Does it stop them?

Why Quality is so-often overlooked in favor of Quantity

So why, in all of these examples, and countless others, does nothing positive happen?

Because the world is obsessed with Quantity over Quality. Why on earth should they care about dissatisfaction from a relatively small number of complaintants when the potential opportunities or the non-complainers occupy a much higher number?

And then there is the appearance of the ever-decreasing natural resource: TIME. People feel they have less and less of it – so they need to make those efforts multi-faceted and cover as much ground as necessary in as little time as possible.

Think About It

What would happen if

  • At a restaurant, your waiter buzzed from table to table, getting orders incorrect, not clearing your dishes til after you left, not re-flling your drinks, etc.?
  • You practice a martial arts technique 10,000 times without focusing on proper execution, power, speed, timing, relaxation, application, body structure & alignment, footwork, etc.?
  • You have several job interviews planned in one day and cut each employer short because you’re going to be late to the next one?
  • As a student, you blaze through all required reading assignments and remember nothing from them?
  • Your legs and ribs are broken from an automobile accident, where a driver didn’t have time for pesky stop lights?
  • You spent tens of thousands of dollars in the hottest new automated marketing delivery software and yet…you have a .07% ROI?
  • After your father dies in the hospital due to malpractice, the judge says "Well, 1 out of 10,000 isn’t bad at all"?
  • People used the bathroom without wiping (it takes up too much time)?

Now let’s look at the flip-side. What would happen if

  • Your waiter did their job amazingly well, was conversational, cleared dishes on time, did not seem rushed, smiled, apologized for any mistakes, etc.,?
  • You practice said martial arts technique perfectly, paying attention to all important details, perhaps even focusing on one aspect at a time?
  • During rush hour traffic, someone paused and waved you into the line of traffic?
  • A brand actually responds conversationaly to you after you left a comment on one of their Facebook posts?

Quality Does Matter

You get the point. And the point is Quality DOES Matter!

This has HUGE effects on not only life in so many different aspects, but more specifically to Online Marketing and SEO as well.

THINK before you blast out 500k email marketing campaigns – did you really create your customer personas? Did you really select all the relevant criteria when creating that query of your CRM or database? Are you really sending the email at the right time to the right people? Does your offer really stand out?

THINK before you engage in another mad-genius Social Marketing effort of blasting links, Tweets, blog posts, re-sharing etc., nearly a hundred times a day. Do your customers or potentials really want or need your stuff in their faces that frequently?

THINK before you post a project on oDesk and accept a bid at $2 per hour or some other ridiculous thing (I was personally just approached about an Online Marketing & SEO Manager role, paying $16 per hour – and the average Costco employee makes $17 per hour…get a clue)

THINK before you send out the fifth touch-point email to a potential customer in a month

THINK before you release your Customer Service reps into the wild – Do they really understand the processes enough that they can Converse with the Customer?

And THINK before you enter into some sort of Link Scheme.

In short, Quantity over Quality is the way of the World. In some instances, this is necessary, for example direct sales (those who don’t understand the difference between Sales and Marketing drive me up the wall, by the way). Yet in most other circumstances, it’s a horrible trend that rarely produces anything resembling a positive experience for either party.

Think about it. And feel free to leave your comments.

Social Search Research with Microsoft

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Microsoft's So.Cl

So.Cl

Microsoft’s Bing is rising strong and fast in the battle of Search Engines. Google experiments with Universal and Social Search. Facebook knocks out the competition. Google attempts to integrate.

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing trends.

Last year a handful of students at select universities began testing a new Microsoft website: So.Cl.

Recently the site came out of Beta.

Social, Soshul or So.Cl?

Pronounced “Social”, So.Cl is a combination of Search and Sharing for Research.

Developed by Microsoft’s FUSE Labs (now defunct), So.Cl. is similar to Pinterest, in that you can “Pin” things, specifically search results. Web pages, Images, Videos, whatever you can think of.

As was once mentioned on their FAQs (they’re no longer online), “We expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools”.

Also on their FAQ, they mention:

  • “So.cl combines social networking and search, to help people find and share interesting web pages in the way students do when they work together.
  • So.cl helps you create rich posts, by assembling montages of visual web content.
  • To encourage interaction and collaboration, So.cl provides rich media sharing, and real time sharing of videos via "video parties."

What’s The Point?

Social Search. Privacy Concerns. True Analytics of Search. Micro-Targeted Ads. Oh and the end-all to academic research.

It’s wide open. So.Cl will be here for awhile and people will be talking (they already are).

I can see this as a pretty great tool for SEO, Marketing and others (I’ve already seen Spam & Scam on the site) in a Research context, but I personally worry about it’s over-saturation, as has been the case with every other hot new thing.

Do you plan to join So.Cl? What do you think are Microsoft’s true aims with this So.Cl project?

What Others are Saying

Social Media Buttons and their Impact

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Social Media Buttons

Social Media. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Pinterest. I’m fairly certain you’re familiar with those names.

Branding hasn’t been much of an issue for Social Media. Most everyone at least knows about them, what they are and even their branding images – even if they don’t actively participate.

You can find those little Social Media icons and buttons all over the internet. Like us here, Share us there, Follow us everywhere.

Everybody uses Social Media and they recognize the social media buttons and icons.

For example on this website, you can find ways to share articles on your favorite social site – just scroll down. And up top? You can see links to my various social sites as well.

Social Media Buttons and Proximity

Do these little social graphics actually have any effect, aside from being a click-able way to share?

Some recent research suggests they do.

A joint study by the University of Miami School of Business Administration, Empirica Research and StyleCaster Media Group hints that consumers are affected by these little jewels…Subconsciously.

When social media icons were in close proximity to items that users would be proud to show off, such as sportswear or fragrances, it was found that users were 25% more likely to make a purchase.

However the flip side seemed also to be true. When those social buttons were near items that might embarrass them, like a weight-loss product or acne medication, users were 25% less likely to buy the product.

Interestingly enough, the buttons had the same impact on the users regardless of whether or not they consciously remember seeing them…

As an aside, however, it’s important to note that if you are using a WordPress-powered site, the majority of Social plugins out there cause huge bloat, meaning that they seriously slow down your site. So this is a trade off. Consider CSS sprites or hard-coding out the links yourself.

Social Media Buttons Study