Website Share Options
Social sharing buttons are not a necessity for online publishing businesses. One study found that, of 61 million mobile sessions, just .2% of mobile users used social sharing buttons and were actually 11.5 times more likely to tap on an ad. Some evidence indicates that removing social sharing buttons increases conversions, with the case study involved improving by 11.9%. This is combined with some real disadvantages with the use of social share buttons, including loss of user engagement and diminished security.
Below you will find our full overview of social share buttons and their usefulness today.
Social Shares today
Social share buttons may have been useful for traffic in previous years, but current perspective appears to be against their use, suggesting either their removal or drastic reduction. In mobile sessions, there is significant evidence that social share buttons are essentially useless. In a report on MoovWeb.com, it was found that, out of 61 million mobile sessions, only 0.2% of users clicked social share buttons, demonstrating 11.5 times greater chance of clicking an advertisement instead.
Evidence exists which suggests the removal of social share buttons will benefit a website. In one case, a blogger experimented with the removal of social share buttons. He found that his site demonstrated a slight drop in social traffic in the immediate period after the buttons' removal, but an increase in direct traffic. His social shares rose, as well, going from 392 shares per post before the removal to 511 per post after they were gone. He then attempted to recreate his results by conducting several comparisons over 6 week period. In the end, he found that his posts with sharing buttons received 1,829 shares, while those without had 2,144 shares. Without the social sharing buttons he had 1,536 more sessions, 1,473 users, and 1,503 more page views than when he included the social sharing buttons. His recommendation from his experiment is to remove the social share buttons.
The blog owner's results in the above study have been corroborated elsewhere. For example, VWO.com discusses an instance of an analytic experiment conducted to test the effectiveness of social share buttons by using an A/B test. The results of that experiment demonstrated the removal of social sharing buttons was followed by an 11.9% increase in CTA clickthroughs than occurred prior to their removal.
The disadvantages of social share buttons
While the benefits of social share buttons may be seriously under question, they contain some disadvantages that are not contested. These disadvantages are listed below, a list which we located on TheNextWeb.com.
1. Loss of user engagement and retention: If a user shares the content on their social media page, that is where the conversation about it will occur.
2. Buttons slow down websites: This is dangerous because 79% of users will wait a maximum of 3 seconds for your site to load.
3. No way to test new widgets: These often have bugs and quirks that can cause a site to malfunction.
In another discussion on FusionBox.com of social share button pros and cons, the points made were similar, but the author's final point was worth noting. The author states "If your content is compelling enough, users will share it of their own accord."
The sources we located made a compelling case for the perspective that social share buttons are an unnecessary addition for online publishers. Users do not often use them, just .2% on mobile, and their removal can increase site traffic and the rate of social shares. This is combined with the very real disadvantages of their inclusion, like decreased user engagement and site security.