Since the beginning of the social media boom a few years ago, social media sharing buttons have always been a popular choice for anyone trying to promote their work. They seem like the silver bullet in getting readers to spread your work across the various social platforms. Unfortunately for many websites, social media buttons are proving more harmful than helpful.
The Search Engine Journal published a great article yesterday about the potential hazards of having too many sharing buttons. The main three reasons they cite are:
- Too many social buttons can slow your site’s performance: More buttons means more things for the browser to load, which can lead to slower load time and possibly annoyed users.
- Too many options can cripple decision making: Anyone who has been to the salad dressing aisle knows the difficulties of making a single choice when given a ton of options. We are often worried that we might make the wrong choice or miss out on the better option. These feelings hold true in all aspects of our lives, including our social media habits. Don’t force too many options on your readers.
- Content with zero shares looks unpopular: Most social media buttons come with a built in counter to show off just how popular your content is. But for most of us that aren’t the major blogs raking in millions of views a month, our counters are a bit lackluster. It turns out these low numbers could have an effect on how new readers share, or don’t share, your work. Just to be safe, remove the counter from your social buttons and let the reader decide on their own if the work is worthy of sharing.
So the question remains, which buttons should you keep? Before making that decision, there are a few things you must look at:
Understand Your Traffic: Before making any decision, you should always check your analytics and understand where your traffic is coming from. If 20% of your users are coming to your site from Twitter, there is obviously a strong reason to keep your “Tweet” button alive. On the other hand, if only 0.001% of your traffic comes from Reddit, maybe a Reddit button is unnecessary. Knowing where your traffic comes from is critical in optimizing your site for your users.
Understand Your Content: Next, take a look at the type of content you are posting. If you have a blog that posts daily photos of your work, then focus on platforms that cater to your visual-heavy content. Pinterest, Facebook and Google+ are all great places for people to find and share photos and videos.
Understand Your Demographics: Lastly, it is important you understand who your users are. Each social media platform has its own unique type of people that dominates their user base. Pinterest is most popular among women (age 25-54), Google+ is mostly used by young males (24 and younger). Knowing who your audience is will help you decide which platform they are hanging out at.
Still Not Sure? If you still are struggling with deciding which buttons to keep, and which to kill, there is always the safe bet of simply using the most popular platforms. Facebook and Twitter are the two biggest players in social media, so it makes the most sense to keep those buttons. The Google+ button has many advantages as well, especially since content shared on Google+ is automatically added to search engine results, a major SEO benefit.
Most of all, it is important to understand that social media buttons are not a cure-all for your marketing troubles. They are simply additional tools to your already beefy marketing arsenal. Use them carefully and always check your analytics to see what is and isn’t working.
Which social media buttons do you use on your site? How helpful have they been in spreading your work?
Photo courtesy of Kexino