Twitter scraps share counts in tweet buttons

  • 0
  • September 28, 2015
Stephen Kenwright

Stephen Kenwright

Director of Search

Twitter just announced that it will be removing the share counters from its tweet buttons within the next month as the buttons are redesigned.

twitterbuttons

Twitter’s first redesign of share buttons since 2012 will remove share counts but not follower counts.

Chris Perkins wrote on Mashable:

“For larger publishers (including ​Mashable), who already have relationships with Gnip, Twitter’s data arm, nothing will change. Those companies and publishers will continue to be able to publish and glean share counts from share buttons and article links in real-time. It’s smaller publishers and individual sites that will be affected.

“These sites will need to engineer a new share count feature, using Twitter’s REST API, or by working with Gnip for gathering full-archive search counts.”

So this change shouldn’t have a huge effect on publications-as-media-companies like Mashable, but it could mean that the Slashdot effect will go the same way as Slashdot with “viral” campaigns potentially smaller than before: users won’t be peer-pressured into sharing content to the same degree.

The 2015 Edelman Media Forecast showed that 76% of journalists are now feeling more pressure to consider their story’s potential to be shared on social media: share counts are a key ingredient in the social proofing that propels a story across the net.

76% of all journalists don’t work at Mashable et al – local reporters feel many of the same pressures and this will undoubtedly cause problems for regional newspapers, with smaller newsrooms and a less advanced grasp of digital than their new media counterparts.

…and on Perkins’ point about engineering a new solution for share counts, developers would absolutely have to use the REST API; they would have to be able to get permissions to act on behalf of each user, requiring OAuth; and they would have to be prepared for Twitter to move the goalposts again at any time.

Implementing share counts on Twitter buttons after next month will likely require a business case – you can do much more productive things with your time, especially if your blog generally doesn’t get a lot of shares.

There’s no argument that the number of times a campaign is shared is a poor measure of success, but success isn’t the only thing that needs to be measured.

Share counts are a useful reference point for at-a-glance assessment of a potential PR placement, for example, and are one of the more informative metrics for occasions when a website’s analytics platform is off limits.

…but share counts can be – and are being – gamed like follower counts or links, and are only as useful as Domain Authority when judging a partner’s potential. At best, an indication – at worst, a red herring.

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