Use Fewer Buttons

When it comes to social buttons, fewer is better. 

It’s ironic that I’m suggesting bloggers use fewer social buttons (given what my startup is about) but that’s exactly my recommendation.

I spend everyday scouring the web looking for new publishers to work with and I’ve seen thousands of sites, widgets, and layouts. The thing I can’t help but notice is that people are using way too many buttons.

A very smart person I spoke with at Upworthy gave me a brilliant insight a few months ago. The less choice you give people in terms of sharing tools, the more focused sharing will be. That means you’re going for frequency versus reach. Why is this important? Because virality (pretend I’m someone who doesn’t toss that word around loosely) is sparked on individual networks, not a combination of networks. The combinatorial effects of multiple network sharing only comes into play after something has already caught fire.

Let me clarify my point with a hypothetical: 10,000 shares on one social network X is a LOT more valuable than 3,000 shares on network A, plus 3,000 on B, plus 3,000 on C, plus 3,000 on D. Trending content happens when thresholds set by specific networks are met (depending on how active the news cycle is that day). By focusing how your content is shared, your increasing the odds that you’ll hit the right tipping point.

But won’t more buttons mean people will share my blog post in more places? No. Because you’re assuming that 1 person will share your blog post in several places using your 5 or 10 different buttons. They won’t. You’ll get a tiny percentage that uses 2 of your buttons, but don’t be naive enough to think anyone but you is going to sit and share the link across all possible networks.

Tools like “AddThis” or “ShareThis” came along and have made it easier to implement such buttons on your site. They’re quite useful, but keep in mind that they’re built to offer you a large variety of choices so you can pick the ones that serve you best. They are not meant to display every button in existence. (So don’t)

The idea of ,“the paralysis of choice” is very real. Don’t overwhelm your readers into inaction. Pick the sharing buttons that drive the most traffic to your site and ditch the rest. If you don’t get value out of a button, then it’s taking up very expensive pixel real estate on your site.

So with all that said, why SHOULD you include a social sharing button on your site?

  • Because the social network attached to it contributes to more than 10% of your traffic.
  • Because your readers have repeatedly asked for it.
  • Because it functions as more than a simple sharing button.
Clean up those buttons.
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