In a bid to increase its presence across the Web, Twitter today announced the “follow button,” a snippet of code that can be placed on any Web site that allows readers logged into Twitter to click and follow instantly.
Previously, a Twitter user would have to click-through to the Web site’s Twitter.com page and click “follow” to achieve the same effect. Users who aren’t logged into Twitter still have to log in before the new account is added to their subscription list. It’s unclear whether the value proposition of the new button will be compelling enough to spur website owners to replace the previous buttons they’ve likely already implemented on their sites.
The default Follow button implementation shows a button that instantly subscribes users to a feed, alongside the Twitter username and the number of followers. The company has provided a fairly comprehensive developers guide, which allows for extensive customization and makes widespread adoption more likely. The button doesn’t yet work in SSL though the company says it’s investigating making that possible. When the button has trouble rendering, it appears to default to text.
Twitter will still be offering the old version of its button, which leads users to the site’s page on Twitter.com.
The company is touting its new follow button as a tool for publishers and brands to boost their follower counts, and thereby increase engagement. “People who follow your account are much more likely to retweet and engage with your Tweets, and to repeatedly visit your website,” the company’s blog post reads.
The new follow button launches with a variety of partners already on board, including AOL, CBS, Conde Nast, Fox, IMDb, The Wall Street Journal, WordPress.com and Yahoo Local. Celebrity brands adopting the new button include Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears. A spot check of some of these web sites shows it can be difficult to find the new follow button, though other Twitter integration is ubiquitous.
The announcement comes at a time when social players are angling for additional real estate on web sites. Tomorrow, Google is launching its “+1″ for web sites.