Do Social Media Buttons Really Work?

As designers, it is our job to question why elements should exist. Sometimes we get so caught up in new ideas about navigation and animations that we forget to go back and examine more common elements—like social media buttons. ~Sam Solomon

Every site I work on has social media buttons and until now I never have stopped to analyze their use.

Share vs. Likes

social media photoOne reason not to put a “like” button on your posts is that users tend to click those instead of sharing the article to their timeline.  The number in the “like” box will increase, but the user isn’t sharing your content with their associates.  Most of the big sites I’ve looked at include a “share” button and have ditched the “like” button altogether.

Some of the research I’ve read suggest people don’t use share buttons on articles.  I use the share button for Facebook, but not for Twitter.  I want my own flexibility for commenting and the way twitter buttons set up the tweet irritates me.  The share button for Facebook makes sharing easier – it is usually formatted correctly and ready for my comment.

If you garner less than 1,000 “likes” per post, why would you want that advertised on your articles?

How Users Act

The user doesn’t come out of nowhere. We don’t land on your page and then head happily to those social networks to promote you, just because you have a button on your site. We find content through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest etc., not the other way around. ~Sweep the Sleaze, io.net

If I go to a web page from a social media link, I’m far more likely to re-share the original link then to add a new one.

Facebook and Twitter Spy on Your Users

 If you visit any web page with a “Like” button on it (like this one), Facebook knows about it. And the buttons “could link users’ browsing habits to their social-networking profile, which often contains their name,”says Amir Efrati in The Wall Street Journal. ~via The Week, Is Facebook’s Like Button Spying On You

Um, definitely a “dislike”.

Have Your Say

I’m definitely interested in what you have to say about this issue.  Do you use like or share buttons?  For which social networks?  Do they work for you?

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