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Quick Thoughts on Sharing Buttons

Published by Chris Coyier

Randomly this week, I've had more-than-normal number of comments from folks who ask me something like:

Went to go tweet/share a blog post of yours, and noticed you don't have any of those on your site. Interesting, any reason why?

I do have some thoughts on that...

When I'm on a site with something awesome that I want to share, I open up a new tweet window, type in what I want to say, copy and paste the URL, and tweet it1. I think that's the most powerful way to share things. It's human. It's also not very difficult. Leaving fancy tweeting buttons off the page I feel encourages those human style tweets over those where tweets with just the title of the post and a link.

I wouldn't be caught dead trying to pass myself off as a "social media expert," but if I have one bit of advice in that arena: craft all your tweets like a human being with language skills and <gasp> emotion.

"It makes it easier and reminds people..."

I can understand how the visual presence of sharing links can both 1) remind someone to share the page if they liked the content on it and 2) make it easier for them to do so.

I've caved in before on the tweet button thing. I watched for weeks and saw only a very slight increase in number of tweets and nearly no additional traffic. So the "reminder" argument doesn't do it for me. For the "make it easier" argument, again, forcing people to manually do it improves the genuine feel of the tweet. I'd be surprised if someone read an article on this site and though to themselves "boy I sure liked this article, I'd like to tweet it, but dang, no tweet button." I hate to say it, but that's so insane to me I'm not sure I want that person tweeting about me anyway.

What's this thing actually going to do?

Personal experience plays into my decision not to include sharing buttons as well: I don't use them. I'm often afraid to click them because who knows what kind of fancy JavaScript is cooking behind them that could potentially auto-tweet something. I get stabby when things auto-tweet. It's like if a ventriloquist snuck up behind me and made me insult my friends.

Not to mention...

  • It's another thing to maintain (gotta keep up with the hippest sharing sites lest look lame).
  • The buttons take up valuable screen real estate.
  • I find them generally rather ugly.
  • It adds additional weight / load time to the page.

Hearts

My thoughts here are about me and this site. No judgements on you or your site. If you have them and they kick ass for your site, that's fabulous. I'd like to hear about it, especially if you have stats to share pre/post sharing buttons.


1 I realize there are more social media sites than Twitter, it was just easier to focus and use the verbiage for one of them for the sake of sharing these thoughts.

Comments

  1. ” It’s like if a ventriloquist snuck up behind me and made me insult my friends”
    I literary laughed out loud when I read that.

  2. Jack Lawson
    Permalink to comment#

    A client that I worked for saw its referrals increase about 4% (total traffic of about 190k visits a month), mostly through Facebook, after adding an “AddThis” button. However, I think the difference is audience; a technical site is more likely to have users that have efficient ways of sharing (I, for example, have a Twitter plugin for Chrome.) The audience at my previous client was a huge range of 20-somethings to 80-somethings, and by adding a share button, we made it easier for un-technical people to easily share.

    That’s my assumption, anyway. Our numbers did increase by a recognizable amount (in the thousands), so it was worth adding a little script to the page for us. YMMV.

    tl;dr: People will share if it’s easy for them

    • I agree with this, it probably has to do with who your audience is.

      Providing a short URL should suffice though.

  3. Dave
    Permalink to comment#

    For what it is worth, I agree.

  4. Having put these kinds of buttons on a lot of websites, I agree. I never use them, and I’ve often found it annoying when they popup in the middle of me trying to read something.

    • Permalink to comment#

      The popup ones are the worst! While I don’t use any sharing buttons, the popup ones actually cause me annoyance when I accidentally activate them, just by moving my mouse.

  5. I agree. I would say, if I may, that it really varies based on the type of social media. I understand in your example, Twitter was the outlet used.

    Let’s say you wanted to post the link on Facebook. It makes very little difference whether you log on and insert the URL or hit the “Share on Facebook Button”, except the button is quicker. (and I have shared links to here on FB, with my designer friends! :-) ).

    So generally I would agree. There’s also always that exception, but then it gets into your personal life with Facebook. Facebook is a tricky one! but I agree that on this site especially, the social media buttons are unnecessary.

    Hilarious puppet example too!

  6. peter
    Permalink to comment#

    words of wisdom

  7. I find it comes down to a combination of audience and also the medium that the post is read on. For example, quite often late at night whilst not sleeping I’ll catch up on my RSS feeds on my mobile. If I read something I like it’s not easy for me to copy the URL and tweet it, it’s actually a big help to have a button that automates the process somewhat.

    I have a little ‘tweet this post’ link at the end of the articles on my blog and to be honest I have seen no change in readership or tweets but the option is there and it’s unobtrusive too.

    I personally don’t think you need a button for every possible service like many sites do. You should chose your options like you do all other design decisions, by evaluating how they meet your business goals and your users needs.

    • Good point.

      It’s an entirely different matter when we’re talking about a mobile audience. I stated below in my comment that I never personally use a sharing tool or button that’s on a website, however, if I’m using my mobile browser, I *always* use them.

      It suddenly becomes an important accessibility issue when your on a mobile screen.

  8. I have to say I agree. I do have them on my site and my clients want them but i find myself doing more copy and paste. We’re losing the personal touch sometimes with Social Media yet that’s what it’s suppose to be improving. It’s all about relationships (or should be) and that’s had to do if everything we do in life is automated.

  9. One of things that I really hate about sharing buttons is that they are 99% of the time default sharing widgets from different sites. And those are almost always ugly and doesn’t fit site’s design.

    Example: Mashable.

    Design of the site looks okay otherwise, but those fricking widgets ruins the whole site. I know that Mashable is social networking based blog network, but seriously do you really need to use default sharing widgets? Just make it look more personal.

    And another thing it’s they really are sometimes waste of space. Who the hell invented idea of “fixed position sharing box”? I hate those everytime. And sometimes there’s way too many sites to share into (that people doesn’t share stuff often). Check where people post your stuff often and put those sites sharing options based on that.

    tldr; Mostly what Chris said on article

  10. Chris, I often tweet about your posts and always forget that I have to do it manually. I spend time searching for the tweet button before I remember. My manual tweet consists of the post title and the URL, which is exactly what would appear with an automated tweet button. So you aren’t getting any extra bang for the buck with a manual tweet. But you are making me work a little to spread the word about your excellent posts.

    • that may be true for you, although a lot of people (myself included) do add a little more than just the blog title and link. I’m not saying your way is the wrong way, but Chris’ goal in not including them is to make Twitter etc more human, rather than just being a large jumble of links to various pages.

  11. Josh
    Permalink to comment#

    Eh, I’m with Chris on not being a fan of the “social buttons”. I think that if everything has a tweet button everyone will just tweet about every little damn thing they see. I’d rather have people spend a little time thinking about if it’s worth it to tweet about something.

  12. Paul
    Permalink to comment#

    So, I sent you that tweet.

    I act like you typically, when I’m in my groove I will open up twitter and share my information manually.

    However, sometimes laziness calls. I know I get the same relative effect by clicking like / tweet this and getting it over with. Great blog post, all your points are valid.

  13. Flavia
    Permalink to comment#

    While I personally agree with Chris, it probably also depends on the goals: if what matters is the sheer number of items shared (for acquisition/visibility/marketing/etc. reasons), it might make sense to have an easy, immediate and visible way for the user to do so. On the other hand, if you value the quality of shared items over quantity, Chris’ approach makes more sense to me, as it theoretically might reduce the signal-to-noise ratio.

    But, in the end, I make a matter of personal preference of it. :)

  14. I have to agree with Chris here. I don’t like to post auto-generated content to my twitter.

    But what could be nice is a permalink for sharing at the bottom of the page. Which doesn’t force any particular service and still suggests sharing the article.

    I know it’s also available in the URL bar but make it a short version like.
    http://css-tricks.com/?p=1902 and not the regular permalink structure.

    Just my thoughts …

    • Permalink to comment#

      That’s exactly what I’m using on one of my sites and css-tricks is a short enough url to do that too.

  15. You should have like a shortened url for each post. That will encourage people to share and force them to actually write something. Shouldn’t slow down page load time either.

  16. Bradley
    Permalink to comment#

    With Twitter, I’d agree, but I actually do use the Facebook Like button a lot when it’s available on sites I frequent. Having said that, I realize Like isn’t exactly the shame as the Share widget which posts to your wall an image/link.

  17. Sam
    Permalink to comment#

    “I hate to say it, but that’s so insane to me I’m not sure I want that person tweeting about me anyway.”

    You made the point clear Chris, this is how lovely Chris is!

  18. Solid points, Chris! Thanks!

  19. Hmmm, I disagree. Sharing links make it easier for others to circulate your content. It’s small effort for big impact.

    • I feel like I touched on these things in the article decently. For me and this site, it’s not a small effort nor a big impact.

  20. Eric
    Permalink to comment#

    Can I just say I agree with this 100%? I’m all for efficient shortcuts–keyword searches, browser plug-ins, give it all to me–but I never use those share buttons. I’d rather write something out alongside a shortened URL.
    Also, the worst part is when you scroll over this tiny button it expands to 100x its size and you have trouble getting it back shut without accidentally auto-tweeting. So frustrating. I’m nearly to the point where I’ll just adblock any share buttons I see.

  21. ikkf
    Permalink to comment#

    Add me to the list of folks glad that you don’t use sharing buttons. Funny thing is I never consciously noticed that you didn’t have them, but always admired the clean design of the site. I definitely agree that they’re an eyesore and increase load time. Very annoying, a bot like Bubonic plague.

  22. You left me with a little bit of unresolved tension. ;) http://xkcd.com/859/

    Great thoughts!

  23. Permalink to comment#

    I think there are two issues working the case here, one: type of website and two: the audience visiting the website. And not to forget, the device the audience is visiting with. Knowing that 76% of the iPad’ish tablets are iPads. Sharing with these devices is extremely simple. Anyway a bit off-topic here, sorry.

    The bounce rate on incoming links with twitter are much higher than search engine pulled in visitors. At least the once I keep track of. I think we never have to forget that content is the king. If somebody chooses not to do so on his own site, it’s cool. Stuff spreads anyway, with or without the feature.

    It is interesting to desing cool nifty and trustfully social links without all the hover, jump up and down, love and share, 3mil icons… those creep me out.

    I started to create my own wordpress theme from scratch. I could not done it without you Chris. You and your friend from Perishable Press. Thanks for that. I’m still a long way from finishing it, but the first steps are taken. I’ve added your link in my footer. I use your stream of information daily, 3 yrs aggo I never touched a script in my life. I’m thinking of getting digwp, but the freaking shipping costs ar high… you can’t help that understandable. I love books, so only the pdf doesnt float my boat :)

  24. I generally agree or at least understand the concerns. I do think that monitoring it for weeks is a bit short.

    Having said that, I am including them for the new community site I am building. It has a very wide (potential) audience which is why I think it can be of help there. I settled on addthis, which is not bad at all since it gives you a lot of control over the look & behavior, it actually blends in quite nicely. Also, you don’t have to do a damn thing. It updates all the links to services and adds services as well. It also automatically detects mobile devices and renders buttons differently there.

    I am not being paid to advertise that plugin, I just genuinely know that it takes away some of your concerns. By the way, it only populates a Tweet message. You can still edit it. Likewise for Facebook.

  25. I very much prefer to set up tweets manually and almost never use those sharing buttons. But I’d guess (without proof) that the vast majority of visitors to your site are pretty Web savvy; however, someone with a site for non-techies would (again, without proof) see something very different in their visitors. Copying and pasting URLs into tweets might very well be over many of them (I STILL run into people who paste URLs into Google, though I’m not sure if that contradicts me or vindicates me).

    So YOU might be able to go without the sharing buttons, but an online shoe retailer might not.

  26. Agreed, especially the concerns about:
    * what will it do?
    * will I need to make yet another account somewhere?
    * how will this thing be written?

  27. Only bad ventriloquists would sneak up behind you. Any self-respecting ventriloquist would just walk by and make you insult somebody, and you wouldn’t even know it was him.

  28. Chris, great points. I get turned off by sites that seem to focus more on making sharing their content easy than on the content itself.

    Plus, I think in our community especially (webdev) there’s so much interconnectivity. What I mean is, if I follow 5 people who also follow Zeldman (for example). When he tweets something, I see that same info RTd up to 5 times. Making that slightly more manual does encourage the kind of genuine human commentary that accompanies that kind of sharing. I think including why you like something or found it interesting enough to share would make a big difference in click-through rates vs a standard RT.

  29. I was going to share this on Twitter, but there wasn’t a Tweet button. Natch.

    While I agree with the general sentiment of this article, I would say for the most part, most web writers would want their content shared as much as possible, and anything that reminds them/encourages them to do so can’t hurt.

    Share buttons typically aren’t the most attractive, but as web designers I hope we can find ways to incorporate them in a nice looking manner. Also, we need to limit the number of share buttons on there. Who shares articles on linkedin anyway?

  30. Chris,
    Thank you for taking the time to defend this particular point of view. The “modern web community” tends to assume that if a website exists, it must have a TweetThis or FB Share button on it. It’s sort of like the assumption that every phone has a ‘redial’ button.

    Personally, it is more important to me what I am communicating, rather than how. If something is truly worth communicating, I am quite content to take the extra thirty seconds to put some context around the link I am sending out.

  31. I agree and disagree

    For facebook, I prefer just copying and pasting the url myself into facebook. While I have used the share button before, I can live without it. So I agree with you there.

    However on Twitter, there’s that added extra process of copying and pasting the URL into an URL shorterning service, then copying that and pasting it into twitter. I’m grateful for a “tweet this” button (or whatever they are called) because it automates that. And I’ve always been able to (and I do) edit the text of the tweet before submitting when using a “tweet” button, so there’s still that personalization part.

    And….
    If there’s no Tweet this button, I use a Chrome Extension to automatically shorten the URL with goo.gl and then I jump into tweetDeck and tweet away.

  32. Dude, I totally want to share this article, but I couldn’t find the share button…

    ;-)

  33. Toni Pearson
    Permalink to comment#

    Making a mental note to NOT have those share posts on my blog when I get it up! I never really thought about it that way. Thanks!

  34. 100% agree about the “unsocial buttons”, but I would be in the tech audience. The tech audience would usually have a twitter feed open so copy + paste+customise is easy.

    It would be interesting for people on an entertainment site to do the same thing.

  35. I tend to agree with you, Chris, on the human factor. Personally, I’ve never once used a social networking button. But, that said, at least on Nettuts+, analytics shows that they do serve a purpose, and help out with traffic.

  36. If Chris Coyers is the Jay-Z of web design, this article is the “Death of Autotune” of social sharing buttons. He killed it on this one. And articles like this prove it: if the content is good, it gets shared. That’s all there is to it.

    I’m hoping it isn’t long ’til those social buttons find their way to the big geocity in the sky. Moment of silence.

    • arnold
      Permalink to comment#

      +1 on that

    • Permalink to comment#

      Ha! Geocity in the sky!

      I agree that we should be focusing on content, not fancy ways to share content. Write it, and if its good, people will read it.

  37. Totally agree. The only reason I have a “tweet” button on my site is because the buttons are blue and it matches the site theme nicely. :)

    Also, I find that many people will rush to share something using those buttons before they even read the article. That’s nonsense, you don’t want that. On the other hand, it’s extremely unlikely for someone to manually tweet (or otherwise share) an article if they haven’t actually read it.

  38. Personally I don’t care one way or the other. I am looking for info, not if it is pretty. If the button is there, I use it. If not, then I manually tweet it. People are mostly going to agree with you on this here because they read your posts and generally go with what you say. But doing something because you don’t like it seems extremely odd. If your audience doesn’t like it, which it seems that they don’t, then you don’t add it. If they want it they do.

    I would be curious what the advertisers paying for spots on your blog have to say considering they are giving you money hoping for traffic. The more traffic that comes through, the more potential dollars they can make. So what if those advertisers said, Chris, put the retweet button up, or I am pulling my ads? Do you keep it off because of your own personal dislike and sticking to your guns? Or do you ‘sell out’ and put in the buttons because of the possible loss of revenue?

    • I of course make this comment without any knowledge of what kind of say, if any, advertisers have, or if they even pay attention to what you are doing on your site. My thought was just that, once you have ads on your site, it is your job to bring as much traffic to them as possible. A retweet button added, over the course of a year, not weeks or a month or two, could increase that traffic enough to make it worthwhile for them to want it here.

    • If the goal of the site were simply to pull in as much traffic as possible for the sake of generating ad revenue, css-tricks.com would’ve devolved into a celebrity gossip site long ago.

    • He did point out in the article that there was *NOT* a significant increase in tweets or traffic to justify the real-estate taken by the feature.

      Besides, I wouldn’t want to give ad space to anyone who started dictating the layout and design of my site. If you have the traffic, they’re will *ALWAYS* be plenty of people eager and willing to take the ad slot on offer. I honestly can’t imagine anyone moaning about something like this because if they don’t like it, they know where they can go. It’s very simple!

  39. I agree with all the post, and I think if you got something great to share the best way is to open new window with your twitter account and share it, like a human, but if you want to win money, get traffic, you need to make a great user experience website, and people preffer share button, is the easy way.

    In your blog is easy, generally you got awasome content.

    PD: sorry for my english.

    • awesome* ^^

    • I’m not sure I am getting this whole “human” element. People are sharing links, not their life story. You have 140 characters to work with. You have to tell people what the hell the article is about, and insert the link. If I want to send something personal, I will tweet about that in a different tweet. Adding “Check this out, its awesome” doesn’t make me it any more personal.

      What about people who schedule their tweets and write them ahead of time. Kind of loses the human element there as well, doesn’t it?

    • If I’m looking at someone to follow, and all it is is a bunch of links and titles, no way will I follow it. That’s where human comes in. I want a little opinion, a little peak at life, a little humanity. That’s just me though I guess, but I’ll tell you what, all the people I see who are HUGE on the Twitter, do just that.

    • Theres a very unsocial feel to machine generated social content.
      For me, if someone can’t be bothered to make a PERSONAL tweet, then I can’t be bothered to follow their link.

  40. Mary
    Permalink to comment#

    For what it’s worth, as ugly and overly obvious as those buttons can be, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been really annoyed when sites don’t have it. At my current job (as a web designer, go figure), I can’t access Twitter, Facebook, or any personal email like Gmail. We can’t even use our work email for non-work purposes. So if I come across something that I want to share with, say, my husband, I can’t if the site doesn’t provide me a way. It pretty much ensures that I won’t be sharing the article.

    • So Twitter is blocked, but if a site has a link on it that links to Twitter, that works? That seems strange.

    • Mary
      Permalink to comment#

      Twitter and Facebook are still blocked. But if a site allows to send an email from the site itself, that’s fair game. If a site only allows Twitter and Facebook, it still prevents me from sharing it.

    • Michael Grindley
      Permalink to comment#

      I’m in a very similar situation at my work. If I run across a site or an article that I like and want to share, I just use the Evernote addon for Firefox and save it for later. That way when I’m on my own time either with my iPhone or at home I can tweet about it, share it, whatever I want to do.

  41. Seriously:
    ” It adds additional weight / load time to the page”

    You are just searching for reasons if you think this is valid!
    If the extra 10 kb image is the deal breaker (and yes I mean in a sprite (so don’t say it takes significantly longer)) I think you are in the wrong business.

    what about “progressive enhancement” ? Why only bash ie? we can bash slow internet connections too!

    • Thinking about how many HTTP Requests a page has is super duper extra mega important. Especially ones that come from third parties that you don’t have any control over. That’s all I have to say about that =)

    • Don Carroll
      Permalink to comment#

      Plus scripts….plus the slew of extra DNS calls…..

    • Don Carroll
      Permalink to comment#

      Doh! Chris beat me to it.

  42. Permalink to comment#

    I am no expert, but I will default to the guy that got this whole crazy WordPress thing going, Matt Mullenweg:

    Scoble: Some of the UI that’s changing about blogs is these toolbars that I’m seeing. I just put one on my blog that has Twitter and Google Buzz and Facebook on the bottom on my blog. What’s your opinion on those?

    Pre-bearded Mullenweg: I think they’re kind of like the mullet of websites. [laughter] I don’t like them. [laughter]

    There you have it: Social toolbars are mullets of websites. Nuff said.

    Source:

    http://wpcandy.com/reports/scoble-interviewed-matt-mullenweg-at-big-omaha

  43. I agree mostly because I think the social buttons are ugly I am always looking for ways to hide them

  44. I have to agree with a lot of other folk that say it depends on the audience. Not including it for your site is completely appropriate because your articles are human, what makes them more interesting, and a pleasure to read! But there are sites out there that lack this “humanness” so it should be expected of tweets about their articles as well. If those articles appeal to you, those tweets probably do to :) Which touches perfectly on the person you don’t want tweeting about you!

  45. To me, twitter is the equivalent of people walking down the street, announcing things at the top of their voices. I don’t regard it to be social at all. I only use Google reader, and I’m pretty fickle with my subscription list.

    So, knowing nothing at all about tweet buttons, I wonder if it’s possible to prompt for the tweet text, so the tweeter can add the personal touch if they’re so inclined? You can either have it blank and force them to enter something. Or put some default text for the lazy, uncreative tweeters.

    If you have good content, people will find it when they are ready for it, and will continue to do so, not just when it’s hot because people are currently tweeting about it. The people who follow tweeted links aren’t the visitors you really need, they’re more likely to be passively visiting out of boredom than actively visiting out of interest. Quality, not quantity.

  46. I’m not sure if any users really benefit from websites having share buttons.

    If someone likes to tweet every blog post they read, it would be a better idea for them to just download one of the many browser extensions and/or bookmarklets to do so (and chances are they already have) instead of relying on every website to have a button for the sharing service they use. That’s more consistent and easier for the user, since they would always know where their browser toolbar buttons are instead of having to find the tweet button on a website.

    If someone doesn’t like to tweet about everything they read, then tweet buttons on websites are probably more annoying clutter than anything.

  47. Permalink to comment#

    Lee K.. Twitter helps your SEO, doesn’t it? Is that Google that adds ranking to your site for being involved in the social media? I really don’t get it that much, but hey, why should I. This whole SEO-thing is a hard thing to grasp, huh?

  48. Hi Chris,

    I think your best point is bringing a bit of human interaction and emotion to the table, and share your sentiments about auto-tweeters. I hate them. They’re intellect is less than that of a clod of miry clay in a primordial swamp.

    Now, all that being said, I don’t mind a simple link (like the one at the bottom of my articles) because it is, well, simple. Sometimes I just want to pass valuable information on without having an emotional (or any) response to it outside of “this is a good read”. I see both sides, but for now, will stick to my little link (for no more reason than I’m not moved enough either way to take it off!)

  49. Matt
    Permalink to comment#

    I agree with everything you said, but I have to say, I thought you would think differently (or at least a tiny bit), I mean, it is one of your top referrals according to your 2010 recap (http://css-tricks.com/thank-you-2010-edition/). But you also make a great point in saying that if it is good content, it will get shared. Great post though. Something everyone should keep in mind.

  50. timmyo
    Permalink to comment#

    @ChrisCoyier hello my friend, have you put more thought into that chat??? ;)

  51. Yeah I agree with you but it depends on the audience. I believe by adding those share buttons will increase the website traffic.

  52. Totally agree about auto-tweets; they scare me too. But not convinced that manual tweets are always more personal, unless someone tweets with a lot of personality to begin with. A good app will show you the preview of your tweet before you tweet and let you customize it to make it as personal as you want. Cutting and pasting feels old-fashioned by comparison. But page load and design continuity are very huge, important points to consider.

  53. This makes sense for a savvy audience like those here on css-tricks, but when I’m doing a website, for say, a local real-estate company. That “Email this to a friend” or “Share” button is pretty important. Many users are not comfortable copying and pasting the URL.

  54. ikkf
    Permalink to comment#

    For anyone who might be interested, Facebook Blocker: http://webgraph.com/resources/facebookblocker/

  55. Bandave
    Permalink to comment#

    I have not heard anyone else say that the buttons are used to display social media presences. What I mean is… when I go to a site that I love that I dont currently follow on Twitter, there is an extra step to find if 1) they are on Twitter and 2) what their Twitter name is. A button takes care of those two steps.
    You are talking about a 5 step, minimum, process to share your site and content. Sorry – I will take the buttons.
    Side note: I follow you on Twitter, but have yet to share one of your posts.

  56. Yes I think everyone should have clearly visable buttons to allow people to follow them on twitter! and various other social media platforms!

  57. Thank you… that’s a really interesting article that’s helped me more than you would believe.

    I’ve been wondering for a few days now, which WordPress plugin to use as a social sharing tool? I’ve been really struggling with all the choices I have and I became totally overwhelmed when I first started looking. I didn’t for one second contemplate *not* actually having a sharing tool. I considered it a *must have* for every website! Anyway, after reading your article you literally brought me back to reality and helped me see the obvious. It’s crazy because you more or less outlined my own online behaviours and I have no idea why I didn’t see this myself.

    Even if a site has a *share* button or some kind of social toolbar, I very rarely use it, instead I’d always just open-up a new tab and share it manually. I’d never really thought why this is, I guess I just like to stay in control and feel more comfortable doing it myself.

    I can only speak for myself but in regards to a share button reminding people to share something, I agree with you, a button would not make me more likely to share something. Not in the slightest! The *only* thing that would make me want to share something is quality of the article and how good the information is. If its a brilliant article that I really enjoyed reading, I will instinctively want to share it with my friends but if its a poor article with poor information this thought wouldn’t even cross my mind. No button of any kind could change or manipulate this natural *instinctive* reaction I have.

    The more I think about this, the more obvious it becomes – If a website has *quality* *unique* content, it doesn’t need to have social buttons as the reader will *instictivly* want to share it anyway. Anyone who does a lot of social sharing will already have some kind of set-up to allow them to do this quickly and the people who don’t do a lot of social sharing would probably do it manually anyway as they’ll usually be a personal specific reason for wanting to share something.

    Of course, I’m not going to write off using social buttons completely as that would be foolish without doing all the proper testing myself first, but its very interesting to know that you never had a huge leap in tweets or more importantly a rise in traffic while using a share button. Very revealing.

    A great article (as usual) with good insight. Thanks!

    P.S I will be sharing this manually ;-)

  58. I never use Tweet buttons on sites. I have a bookmarklet that brings up a New Tweet window from my Twitter client, with the URL filled in. Because I generally like to add my own thoughts.

    I do have and display short URL’s on my blog posts, so people can use those if they wish. But no “share” buttons, if people want to share, I’m sure they already have their own way of going about it. Besides, and I mean no offense, but begging people to please share an article comes off as kinda lame to me.

  59. While I don’t understand sites that put 10+ social media sharing icons next to their articles, I can understand having 1 or 2 there. I’m a big fan of clean layouts and adding my own thoughts to something I tweet, but on a lazy day, I’d use the tweet button or the Facebook “like” button.

  60. I personally think showing buttons that are performing well suggests to users that the particular post is popular. As social creatures we are more likely to share something others thing is popular. It’s called social proof.

    I also don’t see anything wrong with asking your readers to share what they’ve just read if they think it is worth while. Being social creatures we like to feel like we are helping others (whether we actually are or not).

    For this reason I created and maintain the socialize plugin for WordPress. Users can choose default buttons to display across their site and selectivity turn buttons on or off on individual posts/pages/custom.

    The plugin has been received rather well so far and would definitely be interested in more feedback.

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/socialize/

  61. This article has good points in it. Adding the share buttons definitely prolongs the load time with all those external scripts. When I was adding “share” functionality to my website, I was feeling lazy so I just slapped a row of buttons up on my website. But in the future I may take advantage of social networking sites’ APIs and create a modal window that pops up for a custom comment from the “tweeter”.

  62. Ant
    Permalink to comment#

    I’m not fan of sharing buttons too. I find them clutter site design Sometimes I even adblock them. And I would never use them too.

  63. Permalink to comment#

    I don’t think it’s a must have to add tweet buttons (plus others), however I don’t see the bad sides to it…

    I have the tweet api plugged in. When I click, it hooks up to my account, suggests some text (That I can edit to make it more human), and then posts it. The window closes, and I carry on my way… No real downside as far as I can see.

  64. Permalink to comment#

    I’d be surprised if someone read an article on this site and though to themselves “boy I sure liked this article, I’d like to tweet it, but dang, no tweet button.” I hate to say it, but that’s so insane to me I’m not sure I want that person tweeting about me anyway.

    So true! :-D

    If the content is good, it gets shared.

  65. Yes, it is very useful especially if the content is really worth sharing..

  66. Stephen C.
    Permalink to comment#

    Totally agree with you on this…

  67. godbout
    Permalink to comment#

    nice article!
    how to share??

  68. Still keepin it old skool chris! i wanted to argue against what you were saying, but then by the end you did start to persuade me. (not that you were trying to). ..

    i think it’s much easier to share with the buttons, but yeah they do look a bit shit. and i like your reasons. i was just saying the other day to my girlfriend that i still copy urls and paste them when i want to share stuff… and that’s exactly how it should be.

  69. But doesn’t the ‘user preference’ amount to anything? I mean, it is quite unobtrusive if done properly (a classic example is the way it is done in AListApart).

    As far as I am concerned, by just adding a ‘share section’ after each post, you only help people promote your posts.

    Sure, I can do it ‘manually’ and frankly, I like to do it manually. But what about the folks who don’t even ‘remember’ they could post it till they see the share button?

    Just my 0.02$.

  70. ckn
    Permalink to comment#

    Timely post! Prior to visiting css-tricks today, I was on nytimes.com and wanted to share one of their articles with my friends on Facebook. Upon clicking the share button, I received some kind of “popup” window with a list of 4 or 5 items I needed to agree to in order to share the link. It made me uncomfortable. Plus, I didn’t want to waste time going over the information determining what was what so I clicked “cancel” and copied/pasted the link for the page onto my FB wall. It was as easy as 1,2,3,4. Why 4? Because I took the time to write a comment for the link.

    My point is that I get where Chris is coming from…on the other hand, if I was starting out with a new and unknown website, I would probably include a few social media links (FB and Twitter). As sad as it sounds and ridiculous as it is, I think the average people expect those icons on the majority websites.

  71. Well said. I still use the buttons in commercial work but I do believe in the design community a reaction to strong design, code, or just a unique perspective deserves a full tweet. Kind of like a digital pound.

    Your comment box is dope by the way.

    Good thoughts Chris.

  72. freddy
    Permalink to comment#

    About the only thing I disagree with is the idea that a retweet is somehow more valuable or meaningful if it’s manually copied & pasted instead of using a retweet button. Sure, I think it’s likely that someone who tweets it the manual way has more of a connection to the content they’re sharing but there’s no way to quantify this so it’s really a guessing game. Who really cares if 50 out of 100 article retweets are done in knee-jerk fashion? I don’t see why it should be something to discourage or even care about unless it’s for monitoring contests or goal conversions.

    It’s important for us to remember that we may have certain aesthetic preferences when it comes to what we build when we’re designing a site but strategy and user expectations should and must trump our artistic sensitivities every single time (although I tend to think there’s almost always a win-win solution). A web site like CSS-Tricks can survive well without having a retweet button but The Huffington Post is a different story.

    I know, Chris, that you’re not arguing against that at all and are just stating your preference for your own site…I just wanted to drop in my 2 cents.

  73. I think the counts shown with tweet and FB like button actually encourage user to go and read a post, but the same can also be a negative impact as a post with lesser tweets might not be read, even though thats a good post. I think its a trade off. Bigger blogs and sites should have them though

  74. Drew
    Permalink to comment#

    Like anything else, there is no answer to this question other than: test it out, run analytics on it, see if it’s accomplishing what you want. Then modify based on what you see or hear back from users. In my experience, it really matters what sort of page you’re making, and what it’s supposed to do. I agree that generic pages often don’t benefit from them (and in some cases, if the page has a central action, they can even hurt and/or takeaway from that action). But sometimes asking users to share something IS a major focus of a page.

  75. Bril
    Permalink to comment#

    I have to say I disagree. I, too, just searched for a share button that didn’t exist. What about the poor usability of me expecting that function on a site like this and being unable to find it? Don’t dismiss this thought process!

  76. I think it entirely depends on your blog. For some this will work for others it won’t. You tested it out and it didn’t work but for others it will be fine. Like Drew said test it and find out. The only thing that worries me about this post is you are putting negative thoughts into peoples minds about sharing buttons instead of just telling them your findings and asking them to questions why they have them on their site.

  77. Camilo Sanchez
    Permalink to comment#

    I like the way they use the “share option” they make it easy for people to share content without “robotizing” the user.

    http://emberapp.com/explore/categories/web-design/stores/bennihahn:store

  78. Permalink to comment#

    It’s simple, really. If you don’t make it easy for me to share, then I won’t share.

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