Don’t use social media sharing buttons

Social media sharing buttons are quite ugly. How do you stop them ruining a design if they’re requested by a client?

My answer is simple; don’t use them.

If you want to learn more about my attitude to social media and how it should work with our websites read my post “It’s time for your site to play nicely with social media” or watch my presentation on the same subject.

  • I agree with you that they’re annoying and distract from the primary call to action. They’re also very effective. As much as I hate them they do work. The main goal of our site is to collect email addresses for a email newsletter. We need lots and lots of new people looking at our pages as much as possible.

    You wouldn’t believe how many people just share a page because they like the headline, or the image at the top of the screen. Those shares, and subsequent page views convert to email signups. I wish they didn’t, but they do. When we removed the share buttons from the top of the page, shares dropped off dramatically.

    • But what effect did it have on email subscriptions? My fear is that people end up sharing rather than subscribing.

  • There is the argument that if the user wants to share, they will. By manually doing it and writing their own introduction to the link will gain more interest, and with a greater click through ratio.

    On another note, I never quite understood why Mashable have social links next to the “read more’ Hooklines – before you’ve before you’ve even read the article. As if the user is more inclined to read an article with higher amount of likes?

  • afterburnerapp

    I love the idea of putting the tweet right inside the post, you just eliminated a whole snare of clicking and browser tab actions. I don’t think there is any reason to have the tweet look like it came right off of twitter. Perhaps you could brand it to YOUR page.

    I have been using small neutral icons for social media, as they definitely take away from the brand experience.

    • Absolutely. That is what I have done on my site too.

  • At first, I didn’t really know what to think about this, but as you got in to the discussion, I have to say that I agree. Those buttons (which I have on my site) may even just be a lazy way of trying to compel visitors to engage with your content! Using a tool like Buffer eliminates the need for those buttons anyway.

  • From a layman’s perspective surely a blog post or news article needs some form of quick and easy sharing device? I agree not to pepper the site with them. Just used in places for practical purposes, subtle and not taking over the page. Design them in a way that fits in with the sites branding too. A common sense approach.

    • That is essentially what I said. Pick and choose when you use them. Look at the way I use sharing as a tab at the bottom of my posts. They don’t need to be the normal share buttons. You can do something more.

  • But Paul, it’s so much EASIER to just plaster sites with the dang buttons!