Implement a Share to Socials Feature in Under 5 Minutes

John Braat

Jonathan Braat / August 13, 2022 7 min read

Learn how to quickly build a share to socials feature. Including LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, HackerNews and Facebook on web and native share on mobile.

Why you need a social sharing feature

  • Pages shared often will establish you as an expert in the industry
  • Shared pages will improve your SEO ranking (qualified backlinks is one of the big ranking factors on Google)
  • Increase social visibility, which in turn will help you get exposure to potential customers for your business or content
  • More exposure makes it easier to get new followers
  • Great for building relationships and loyalty
  • A direct sharing feature will reduce friction for users. You want to make it as easy as possible for your users to share from your site

Keep in mind, that we want to reduce as much friction as possible for your users. This means, 1 click to share is better than 2. 2 is better than 3 and so on. Make it easy while keeping it nice looking and intuitive.

Technically you could already just "mark the url in the address bar, copy and paste it somewhere else". This requires work on the users end. I don't know how you feel about it, but I prefer go through fewer steps, rather than more.

Not everything that's shareable should be self-promotional. Make sure your content provides value to the consumer. Content with value to others will be shared more often.

What exactly is a sharing feature

This one is simple. It's a button or link forwarding your content/link to a social network, messenger or another app.

Here are some examples from popular sites and networks with a sharing feature:

  • YouTube: Share video link with or without timestamp
  • TikTok: Native share on Mobile (we will get to that later as well)
  • Medium: Share article on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn

There are quite a few ways and libraries to implement this. If you are super pressed for time, I would recommend using a library like react-share or the Vue/Angualar equivalent. It comes with tons of social networks including icons integrated.

How to implement a simple sharing feature on your site

This article is geared towards web apps. If you are implementing for mobile applications please refer to the native sharing method for the specific platform.

My implementation for the web can be used in plain JS applications and any kind of frontend framework as it is as simple anchor tag (<a ...> ... </a>) for each network we cover. The code is implemented in TypeScript, if you are using plain JS, just remove the types. We will build a link each for the following networks:

  • LinkedIn
  • HackerNews
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Facebook

In addition to each link, I will provide an example usage implementation for React.

Once that's done we will also build a Share via feature for mobile devices utilizing the web native share API. With this, we will have a button opening the native share drawer. This enables users to share to apps installed on their device.

Let's go!

As mentioned above we will construct a share link for each network and put it into a simple <a> tag. In this example we are sharing blog post articles and are passing some metadata about the articles such as url, title and author to the social network. Let's look at share to twitter first:

share-utils.ts
export function shareToTwitter(
  url: string,
  title: string,
  author: string
) {
  const text =
    encodeURIComponent(`"${title}" by ${author}`)
    + '%0A%0A'
    + encodeURIComponent(url)
  return `https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=${text}`
}

This is a simple function returning a string to be plugged into an <a href="<return string>" ...> ... </a>. Since twitter accepts a text param, you can pass any value you want to that function and construct the string. I decided to pass a blog post url and the corresponding title as well as author of the post. The general steps to construct share links for any social network are as follows:

  1. Read passed params
  2. Form the string or strings for your query
  3. Encode the shareable strings
  4. Append the encoded strings to your base url. In this case we append text=<encoded string> to https://twitter.com/intent/tweet

It's important to use encodeURIComponent for any text you will use as a query param. Otherwise, you might run into issues and your shared text gets messed up, or won't be shared at all.

This is the result when you click the Twitter share link for one of my blog posts:

Share Tweet Preview

Side note: You may have noticed the %0A%0A I have added to the text. %0A is the URL encoded equivalent to a line break, which you see two of after "@jebraat" in the image above.

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Let's create a function to construct the URLs for the other networks.

share-utils.ts
//... snip

// Share to linkedin
export function shareToLinkedIn(url: string) {
  return `https://www.linkedin.com/sharing/share-offsite/?url=${
      encodeURIComponent(url)
    }`
}

// Share to reddit
export function shareToReddit(url: string, title: string) {
  return `https://www.reddit.com/submit?url=${
      encodeURIComponent(url)
    }&title=${encodeURIComponent(title)}`
}

// Share to hacker news
export function shareToHackerNews(url: string, title: string) {
  return `https://news.ycombinator.com/submitlink?u=${
      encodeURIComponent(url)
    }&t=${encodeURIComponent(title)}`
}

// Share to facebook
export function shareToFacebook(url: string) {
  return `https://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?u=${
      encodeURIComponent(url)
    }`
}

As you can see the URLs and passable metadata differ slightly between the networks. E.g.: some allow for titles to be sent through, others don't. You can find a list of 25+ social network links and how to construct them here.

Onto the usage example with React.

Again. Usage is simple as we really just put the previously constructed string into an <a> tag.

Here is a simple React component implementing the share to Twitter function from above:

ShareToTwitter.tsx
import React from 'react'
import { shareToTwitter } from './share-utils'

type Props = {
  url: string // URL to be shared
  title: string // Blog post title
  author: string  // Blog post author twitter handle
  children: React.ReactNode  // E.g.: link text or twitter icon
}

export default function ShareToTwitter({
  url,
  title,
  author,
  children
}: Props) {
  return (
    <a
      href={shareToTwitter(url, title, author)}
      target="_blank"
      rel="noopener norefferrer"
    >
      {children}
    </a>
  )
}

And that's it!

Let's move on to sharing with the native share drawer on mobile 👇

Implementing mobile native share

To make it feel more natural on mobile devices we want the user to be able to click "share" and then have the platform specific (iOS/Android) sharing experience. This is usually a drawer sliding in from the bottom of the screen providing them with options to copy the link, or share to apps on their device.

ios and android native share drawer

Lucky for us, we can use the Navigator.share() method available in the browser. Be aware that this feature is built for mobile browsers. However, it works for desktop browsers as well, except Firefox. I only mention this, so you won't be surprised if it doesn't work on your development machine in case you are using Firefox.

Here is a simple React component to showcase the native share implementation:

ShareViaButton.tsx
import React from 'react'

// ShareData: { url?: string; text?: string; title?: string; files?: File[] }
type Props = {
  shareData: ShareData // find the full docs through the link above
}

/** This will only work with HTTPS */
export default function ShareViaButton({ shareData }: Props) {
  return (
    <button
      onClick={() => {
        navigator.share(shareData)
          .catch(e => console.warn(e))
      }}
      type="button"
    >
      Share via ...
    </button>
  )
}

As this API should really only be used on mobile devices, I recommend only showing the button if the client is on a mobile device. You can use the is-mobile npm package for that.

Alternatively you could use the Navigator.canShare() API and display the social links from above when it returns false or the ShareViaButton when it returns true.

And that's it!

If you want to see how I implemented the share to social links on my website, including a copy to clipboard, feel free to check out my GitHub repository and maybe leave a ⭐.

If you liked this article and know a friend who could benefit from it as well, please consider sharing it 🙏 If you want to get news and updates from me, subscribe to the newsletter below 👇 or follow me on Twitter.

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