Social Media Share Buttons Suck – Here’s Why

Are you thinking about putting social media share buttons on your website, or do you have them already?

Sharing a webpage with just one click, seems handy, right? Well, it turns out nobody really uses them.

And in fact, they could actually hurt your website.

While sharing with one click seems enticing, a large majority of consumers prefer to just copy a link and format it themselves. But that’s not the only problem. I’ll go over the shockingly abysmal statistics and why those little share buttons should become a thing of the past.

Mobile Users are 11.5 times more likely to click on an ad than a social media share button.

“Share buttons were implemented to give readers an easy way to share content, but 99.8 percent of them are unused on desktop and on mobile.” – Adweek

  • Moovweb studied 61 million mobile sessions and discovered that 99.8% of mobile users never engage with social media share buttons. In fact, mobile users are 11.5 times more likely to click ads than they are to click social share buttons.
  • Desktop users click on social sharing buttons about 35% more often, but they still prefer sharing links their own way, rather than using these buttons.

Taloon’s A/B experiment on social media share buttons


Going against the more common approach, Jani Uusi-Pantti of Taloon.com decided to remove the Google+, Pin it, and Facebook share buttons from their product pages.

  • Compared with the original, the variation recorded an 11.9% increase in call to action click-throughs. This means these buttons actively reduce the number of people accomplishing the goal you set for them.
  • “Social proof isn’t always the best proof – you would think that social proof helps boost conversion rates, but it doesn’t always work that way.”
  • According to Jani, the number of shares on most of Taloon’s product pages was zero. While a high number of shares and likes acted as positive reinforcement, a low number of shares bred distrust in the minds of customers about both the company and the quality of its products.
  • Social Media share buttons served as distractions, rather than assets.

Site Speed Issues

Social sharing plugins are notorious for slowing down your site loading speed.

I use an extremely lightweight plugin. But it still adds half a second to my page load time.” – Just Publishing Advice

Some social plugins’ design and development can add a considerable amount of load time and add many requests.

These requests are often data collection for ad networks or for calibrating share counts.

If you have a sharing plugin, you should check its performance. If it turns out to be a resource hog and is collecting personal data, you should look for a better, safer, and faster alternative.

And what about privacy?

Share buttons are not as innocent as you think.

Most share buttons use cookies, which track user behavior.

An article by Business2Community about privacy issues discusses the often unknown consequences of these buttons – for the business and end user.

Even if they’re not used by a visitor, share buttons place cookies on a user’s device when they view a website.

Most brands that provide these share buttons sell the cookies to third-party services, which then use cookies to track users’ web browsing activities so companies can send them personalized ads.

Even if your visitor doesn’t even look at or use your Twitter or Facebook share button, they are still being tracked. The share button plugin is free because of ad-tracking data.

It’s that common adage in action: “If it’s free, you’re the customer.”

No matter the number of shares you get from it, every one of your visitors will have an unannounced tracking cookie added to their browser.

This is just one reason why you should always have a cookie policy agreement on your site.

Conclusion

There’s a strong case against social share buttons with few upsides. They’ll slow down your site and track your users. Nowadays, customers want fast-loading pages and have deep concerns about privacy.

Besides, think of your own behavior. Have you used one of these buttons in the last few days? The last month? Or even the last year? Probably not.

Most users prefer to control how they share, via copying and pasting the URL or using screenshots.

When it comes to social share buttons, it’s probably not worth keeping them around.