Following: 'following' a business on Twitter or 'liking' a business on Facebook, or subscribing to their YouTube channel.
Sharing: posting something on their wall/Twitter or their content on your wall/Twitter.

I'm designing a site for a business that wants both: social media icons for following in the header and/or footer, and "share" buttons throughout...


  1. Is it confusing to have share AND follow, for the same social networks? If yes, which one is better - share or follow?
  2. Should social icons for sharing be in the header, the footer, or both? Note if they're in the header they'll be smaller and greyscale, but in the footer they will be large and full-color.
  • It's confusing depending on how you do it; Know your Meme has a particularly confusing set up: knowyourmeme.com/videos/39879-supercut they mix the "share this page" with "like us on facebook" on the same horizontal bar.
    – Ben Brocka
    May 23, 2012 at 20:16

2 Answers 2


I think you've answered your own question... Following & Sharing are two distinct actions applied to two different things.

When you're following, you're following a brand or a site as a whole. When you're sharing, you're sharing a specific bit of content.

Which one are you trying to do? Or are you trying to do both?

It's okay to have both Follow link & a Share content link on the same page. Just make sure they're placed in context so the reader don't get confused as to what they're doing. Say, have the Share links next to a blog post, while the Follow/Subscribe links in say the sidebar or footer.


Or you can place them on different pages like how New York Times does it... the Follow Us links are displayed only on their homepage. The news articles only have Sharing links.


Having both share and follow in the same horizontal space can be confusing. I would place the follow page button in the header and/or footer of the page and place the share button at the adjacent to the content - placement could be to the left like on this page or at the end of content.

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