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6 Reasons to Stop Placing Social Share Buttons on Your Website

In the past, I recommended social share buttons as a website feature to my clients. With all the plugins and options available, why not? As the adage goes, “It never hurts to ask”. I’m not very fond of that particular aphorism. I’m no longer keen on social share buttons either. The negative impact on user experience outweighs the slim chance someone will use the button to share your content.

No One Clicks Them

How many web visitors use social share buttons?

Not a lot of independent data exists on this topic. That might be evidence enough. Across my own portfolio of clients, I can say almost no one uses the buttons. A 2017 report by Moovweb, a mobile conversion company, tracked 250 mobile experiences and found that only .2% of users ever clicked on a social share button. Not 2 out of 100, but 2 out of 1000.

They also found mobile users clicked on these buttons 35% less often than desktop users. Significant, given mobile users continue to account for a higher and higher percentage of web visitors overall.

In a 2017 Marketing School Podcast, Do Social Sharing Buttons Still Work?, Neil Patel & Eric Siu also came to the conclusion that social sharing buttons do not work well.

Redundant and Obsolete

It should be no surprise to mobile users that people do not use social share buttons, as this capability already exists on modern smartphones and tablets. iPhone owners, for example, can share web content to other social media apps (Facebook, Twitter, etc) by using the Share button built into web browsing apps like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. This same feature exists on the desktop versions of these browsers as well.

It’s also not that difficult to just copy and paste a link.

Security and Privacy

Sharing content between apps gives the web visitor more control over their data and privacy. They do not need to login to a social media platform’s website or share any information with the website whose content they will post. Not true for social share buttons. Users must be logged into the social media website via the same web browser or login through a prompt via the social share button.

Depending on the service used to provide the buttons, a cookie may save and transfer web visitor data. This can be a violation of the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and other local and international data privacy laws.

Another Distraction

The average website implements multiple calls-to-action to engage and capture web visitors (leads). These can include mailing list opt-ins, blog post comments, social media follows, and in-page advertisement. Social share buttons compete with these other calls and could detract from web visitors taking those actions.

Poor Presentation and Tunnel Vision

A list of social media buttons that hover and follow the web visitor around do not provide any value for your visitors. Buttons that virtually no one will click on at the beginning, end, or anywhere else in the content do not provide any additional benefit either.

Like banner ads, websites across the Internet still use social share buttons and place them in similar places on web pages. And like banner blindness, the behavior in which web visitors consciously or unconsciously tune out online ads, visitors develop a tunnel vision like behavior which tunes out useless social share buttons.

Plus, unwanted social share buttons diminish the overall aesthetic and presentation of your website.

Performance

Many of the popular services and plugins that provide social share buttons use cumbersome scripts and numerous offsite requests that can slow down the load speed. This can offer a less than ideal experience for your web visitors as well as be a negative contributing factor for your SEO.

Are Social Share Buttons Effective?

Not really.

Social share buttons provide a superfluous, intrusive, and sluggish solution to a problem that does not exist. You can safely spare yourself and your visitors from adding this feature to your web pages.

If you still feel inclined to include social share buttons, stick with Neil Patel’s recommendations and just use click-to-tweet features for targeted quotes in the page copy. Limit your actual buttons to Facebook and Twitter, the two largest and most shared to social media platforms.

Also, try to find a method, plugin, or service which does not require the use of cookies or transfer of web visitor data.

I dropped social share buttons from my website in 2017 and I will continue to suggest my clients not use them as well.

Warren Samu
Last edited on
May 22nd, 2020
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