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BEST of the Best Social Media Icons and How to Optimize Them

Adding social media icons and logos to your blog, website or email is an integral component in building your audience and sharing your content.

Frankly, it’s a no-brainer. However, it’s important to make sure you get the design and placement of your icons correct. It’s not enough that they simply look good, or that they are randomly placed somewhere on your page. You need to put them where they can catch your reader’s attention – make it easy for someone to follow you on social media and to share your content with their followers.

In this post, we’ll discuss (use the links to jump to what interests you):

1 – Always up to date list of FREE social media icons. Jump here. (Most recent update: August 24, 2016)

2 – Discover what icon style is the best suited for your business. Is your personality flat, chic, retro, gooey or grunge? Jump here. 

3 – Expert tips on how to optimize your social media icons. Jump here. 

4 – Different types of social media icons: Share vs. Follow. Jump here. 


Types of Social Media Icons: Share vs. Follow

There are two types of social media icons: share buttons and follow buttons (or profile links)

Share Buttons

Share buttons are easy-to-use links to create a new post on a social network. They do not take your visitors to your social profiles. Rather, clicking prompts them to share your content to a particular social network.

Instead of copying the page’s URL, heading over to Facebook, pasting it into a new post, and writing a text caption, your visitors can click ‘share this’, and go back to your site, where you want them.

The easier something is to share, the more likely people are to do it. Flywheel

In short, share buttons are essential for expanding the social reach of your site. They’re also an integral component in building an audience.

Follow Buttons (or profile links)

While the actual lingo may vary – like, follow, circle, etc. – the concept is the same on each social network. Follow buttons simply link to your social profiles so people can add you to their network there.

Follow buttons can take any number of forms from just the social network’s icon to the icon plus the network’s name. You can also customize an icon to reflect your brand better. The type of site and the space allotted for social media icons will determine what option is best for you. Profile links give your visitors the chance to connect directly with you on your various social networks

Why you should have Follow Buttons:

It’s pretty rare that someone will see a website once and think, “I’m going to keep up with them forever.” Nope, it takes much longer for someone to become a real fan or customer or even to remember that you site exists.

You have to make sure they don’t forget about you. By having readers follow your active social media profiles, you’ll pop up there to help stay top of mind.

Designing Your Social Media Icons

A Google search for social media icons produces masses of options for you, ranging from a clean, flat design, to watercolor, retro, vintage, grunge, gooey and just about everything else in between.

If you’re going to build and design a blog worth following it is essential that your social media links are both visible and current and always up-to-date. – Dustin Stout

Staying on the cutting edge keeps you:

Here are some examples of different types of current icon designs featured in a post on the Canva blog:

Flat Social Media Icons

Chic Watercolor Icons

Retro Social Media Icons

Grunge Flat Social Media Icons

Social Media Icons with a Gooey Effect

Master List of Free Social Media Icons

In addition to the icons listed above, here is a collection of 100+ free social media icon sets to help save you some time and find the perfect group of icons – no matter what your style!

1 – Free Social Media Icon Set, Always Updated!

For the most meticulously updated and accurately crafted minimal social media icon set on the internet. Now including the new Instagram icon! Dustin hand picked the most popular social sites out there and created six different downloadable sets.

The social networks included in the set are:

2 – 50+ Sets of Free Social Media Icons

Steven Snell at Vandelay Design put together a comprehensive list of over 50 social media icon sets from his favorite designers from around the world. Here is a preview of a few of them:

→Social Media Icons

Contains cool Social Media icons vectors pack with logos of the largest network sites. Download speech bubble composition with vector icons of Facebook, Google+, YouTube, RSS Feed, Twitter, MySpace, Linkedin, Flickr, Digg, MeetUp, StumbleUpon, WordPress, and Blogger.

→Social Media Icon Stickers

Here is an awesome, trendy set of curled sticker style social media icons that I am sure you will find very useful!

→Free Triangle Vector Icons Set

Need a trendy and fresh take on a social media icon vector set? Check out this Triangle Vector Icon Set, useful for promoting your website or social media profile. Includes 20 social media vector icons in a triangle shape.

Make sure to check out the other 47 free icon sets put together by Vandelay Design.

3 – 50 Free Flat Icons (Sketch & Illustrator)

Alexis Doreau’s fantastic collection includes some of the most difficult to find social media icons like SnapChat, Periscope, and Slack.

How to Optimize Your Social Media Icons: Ask the Experts

1 – Where are the most popular places for my social media buttons?

The short answer from the CoSchedule blog:

The answer?


Popular Placement Options For Social Media Buttons:

2 – Can you have too may social buttons on your website?

Yes, too many social buttons will make things worse. – Search Engine Journal

Doug Antkowiak makes a great point about social media buttons on the Search Engine Journal blog. He points out that too many social buttons may negatively impact the speed of your website. This impact is a big red flag, as you can clearly link site speed to better readership and SEO performance.

The most valuable conclusion is that we should limit the number of social media buttons that we display to as few as possible. The risks of slowing down our site just aren’t worth it. Social media buttons provide one of those situations where more is not necessarily better.

This evidence is backed up by TrackMaven’s polarizing conclusion after examining nearly 2 billion social shares.

Their data concluded that the vast majority of social shares take place on the top two social networks (Twitter and Facebook).

Clearly, we don’t need to include all networks to make a good use of social media buttons. In this report, TrackMaven reveals that 38.6% of social shares were on Twitter. Facebook “likes” and “shares” accommodated for another 60.3%.

3 – Should I use custom or standard buttons?

From Jeff Bullas: It’s a real dilemma today when there are many cool social button designs.

But there a few pros and cons to using custom social media buttons over standard ones.

→Pros: Custom buttons are easier to introduce to the website design. You can ask your web designer to draw you absolutely unique buttons that will appear only on your site and perfectly match its style and look;

→Cons: Custom social media buttons can become “invisible” for ordinary users. Most people are used to certain icons on social media. And sometimes attempts to create a unique “Like”, “Tweet” or “Share” icon can lead to people won’t understand that it’s a social button they see.

The example below shows the sharing buttons on a website that will do your head in. Don’t make it this hard!

Being this smart is sometimes very dumb!

4 – Are social media icons a must in email?

This question is a tricky one. Here is the response from Creative Market:

On one hand, some people would tell you that social media details will only add to the clutter. On the contrary, social media is a great way for your email recipient to find out more about you and your brand. So how do you decide if you need to include this?

Here’s an example of a great use of social media icons in an email signature by dlvr.it’s CEO, Bill Flitter:

Read more: How to Make a Great Email Signature That Gets Noticed

5 – Should you add sharing buttons to all your email newsletters?

From GetResponse: Yes, make it obvious and make social media icons look like social media icons!

Bottom line: Social media icons in your email signature are a constant invitation for people to connect with you.

6 – Why are visual links to my social profiles important on my blog?

From the Later blog:

Having links to your social media profiles on your blog is an excellent way to increase your followers, but don’t stop there! In addition to the usual social media icons, adding an Instagram or Pinterest grid to your sidebar or footer shows your readers what they can expect from following you. A visual reference of your feed is more likely to catch their attention (and have them click through to follow you!).

Stats show that blogs with a prominent widget on their site drive up to 10X more clicks, and gain followers up to 3X faster than those without. – Bloglovin’

Here’s an example of a right sidebar with follow buttons and an Instagram widget from lifestyle blog Bethany Menzel:

7 – How can I optimize my social profiles on YouTube?

From Kissmetrics post on Create A YouTube Traffic Jam With These 4 Simple Optimization Tips:

Any opportunity to showcase links to your other social networks, blogs, website, etc. is worth utilizing. With YouTube’s latest upgrade to the look and feel of the channel, there are new ways of displaying your other online properties. Many brands, like Chow.com, choose to utilize the space about their channel at the top right of the dashboard as a place to link to their Twitter, Facebook, blog, website and other destinations of relevance to their YouTube audience.

8 – Can I showcase my social profiles in my ads on social media?

Yes, this is currently in beta and being tested by advertisers in Bing Ads.

The new extension – simply called Social Extensions – allows advertisers to pick up to 4 social media profiles to showcase.  For now, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr are the ones to choose from, but support for Pinterest is coming, and possibly for YouTube as well.

The Twitter example is interesting since it shows that you don’t just have to link to your Twitter handle, linking to branded hashtags – or any hashtag at all – is something that you can do.

Here is what it looks like:



It’s Your Turn

Have any social media trends, tips, tools or tricks to share?

Where do you go for free social media icons?

We’d love to hear from you.