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Social sharing buttons

I don’t like sharing buttons. Here's a short Sunday afternoon rant about why.

Very low share rates

Shares as a percentage of page views seem to come out at less than 1%. That’s shockingly low.

The UK government did a great write up of their analysis of some of their stats: GOV.UK social sharing buttons: the first 10 weeks.

The always great Luke W has gathered a bunch of data together: What Percent of Page Views Share on Social Media? All of them shown share link clicks at less than 1%, the average being about 0.25%.

Share icon code tends to be bad

On top of that, the code for sharing icons tends to be quite a lot of JavaScript. This mean a heavier, slower, page, and a worse user experience. Philip Walton wrote about this in Stop Copying Social Code Snippets and Jonathan Suh did in Responsible Social Share Links.

There are lightweight alternatives out there, like Kurt Noble’s Ridiculously Responsive Social Sharing Buttons, but many people still use the heavier defaults provided by Twitter, Facebook, et al.

Sharing without reading

The final kicker is covered in You’re not going to read this (But you’ll probably share it anyway) on The Verge. Even when someone shares an article, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve read it.

It depends what your goal is, of course. Do you just want more page views, or do you want people to actually read and take in the content? For the kind of thing I do at my workplace, we’re more interested in the latter.

Further Reading