Manual placement does not need to be within the loop, but placement will affect what data is passed along to the service (e.g., title, photo, URL).
Manual Mode is very commonly used by those who utilize custom post types on their blog as we do not currently support custom post types. The shortcode that calls our buttons will need to be placed in the correct post-type template.
Here's the article in our support center concerning Manual Mode: http://support.shareaholic.com/entries/23339372-Using-Share-Buttons-in-Manual-Mode-on-WordPress
Could you please contact us through our support center by submitting a request, so that I may speak with your specifically about your blog? Include a link to this forum thread and your blog's web address. Thanks!