Are social buttons worth the effort?

Max Shearer, a member of our talented web design team, brought a burning issue into our office this morning and it seemed quite the potent debate amongst the staff here at Branded3.

The debate was concerning social media buttons on websites, and whether or not they are worth adding. It would seem social share buttons are fairly thoroughly used by most news and big blog sites and as a result of this; big brands have been caught up in a social media arms race, adding share buttons to every item available on their sites.

The main points against the use of social media buttons are:

  • They’re surplus to requirement – people use other means of sharing content; copy and pasting or browser plug-ins. Often this is in an effort into deviating from the predetermined text in the share, authored by the site.
  • They clutter up the page.
  • They make the site run slower – one or two seconds slower.

With these concerns in mind it seemed worth sending the question around the office and taking a poll as to how we share content online, here are the results:


Q. Which do you use more to share content?

A.

Which do you use more to share content?

Q. Would the fact that a page didn’t have share buttons put you off sharing the content?

A.

Would the fact that a page didn’t have share buttons put you off sharing the content?

Here are some of the comments made to the poll:

“Social Buttons look completely out of place on so many sites (yet on some sites it’s worth it). To be honest, I never really understood sharing buttons, what’s so hard about CTRL+C then CTRL+V? Basically, if it’s really worth sharing, you’d go the ‘extra mile’ rather than just clicking two buttons.”

Emma Barnes, Data Insights

“The content would have to be amazing in order for me to share without the buttons.”

Mike Jeffs, Search Strategist

“I use both, for example I have a browser plug-in for my Pinterest because there are loads of images on the web that I would like to share, but Pinterest share buttons are few and far between. As for Twitter, Facebook and Google+, I use the share buttons in different ways too, for example I like to author my own tweets but I also find the shortened URL within the predetermined tweet useful.”

Georgia Halston, Copy Writer, Social Media & Online PR

“They’re slow, and they look desperate. But if the content’s good, the content’s good. I’d still probably copy and paste the URL though.”

Max Shearer, Front End Developer

“The quality of the content determines whether I share it.”

Mark Bowering, Content Manager

“If it’s quality content, I always share.”

Puneet Mitra, Link Builder

“I think every website feels like they should have social media buttons, without really knowing how it adds to the user experience. It’s the same every time a new social platform comes out, people want to jump on the bandwagon and think they should be using it, but they don’t really think about whether it benefits their users from a usability point of view. Personally, on most sites I think social share buttons look ugly, and I rarely use them. But these views are coming from the angle of those within the industry, it’d be interesting to see some real hard facts and research about whether those not as digitally-savvy as us do need that extra prompt to share.”

Felicity Crouch, Marketing Manager

“If something is interesting then I’ll share it, even if someone sends me an email I might share this joke on Twitter or through Facebook despite the email not having share buttons.”

Matthew Jackson, Head of SEO Strategy

“I like the easiest way to share, so the more the merrier!”

Steve Shaw, Head of Digital

“Whilst it would not put me off sharing content, to less technical users it may mean they don’t share as much.”

Andrew Machin, Head of Design

“If I didn’t have a browser plugin I would find it annoying to share content – ease of sharing is vital.”

Max Stanworth, Designer

By at 3:47PM on Wednesday, 03 Oct 2012

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