New Poll: Sharing Buttons

Published by Chris Coyier

Throughout the life of this site, I've flipflopped (nope, yep) on whether or not I show social sharing buttons on articles. As anything, there are arguments in either direction. We can cover that briefly, but I also want to gather a bit of data on the subject, so that will be our next poll.

The impetus for this poll is the comments I get from people during times where there are no sharing buttons present on my articles. Like:

Hey Chris, I wanted to share an article from CSS-Tricks but there were no sharing buttons. Why?

Sometimes that will come in the form of the tweet, which is sometimes just someone wanting to know if I have any specific thoughts on that, but sometimes someone who legitimately thinks they can't share pages that don't have sharing buttons. Leading me to wonder:

Luke Wroblewski collected some data indicating 0.25% of pageviews will share the page (from great studies like this). That is with sharing buttons present. Make me wonder what that number would be without sharing buttons. Presumably lower, but just to be clear, people can share any link they want, they don't need a button to do it, and certainly some people prefer doing it that way.

There is also the issue of how much an individual share matters. One share from a trusted and highly followed source is better than 1,000 spambot shares. My unscientific guess is that shares you miss out on by not having buttons present aren't worth much anyway. And in fact having sharing buttons can be a turnoff to the same type of people you want sharing the page. I'm not sure how we could get data on that, so let's just go with:

This best describes how I share links on my social media site(s) of choice:

  • I typically only share pages that have sharing buttons.
  • I don't use ever use sharing buttons. I share my own way.
  • I can go either way.

Actual poll is embedded on the site.

I'm not sure if we'll land on any perfect answer, but it will be interesting to think about.

General positives about sharing buttons:

  • They can make sharing easier, more sharing means more traffic
  • They remind people to share
  • You might get more sharing

General negatives about sharing buttons:

  • They can negatively affect page performance
  • They can look garish
  • Low numbers can look embarrassing

At the time of this writing, I have social sharing buttons on this site in the form of simple anchor links that link to those services dedicated sharing pages (rather than the JavaScript powered sharing buttons with all the extra functionality). Like these.