Monday, August 5, 2013

Social media buttons for sharing content - How many are too many?

Social media sharing buttons and plug-ins are everywhere. Businesses small and big, are getting them on their websites, blogs and e-commerce sites, as part of their content marketing strategy.

However, are they adding up to the user experience of a website, or taking away from it? There have been many instances where I was put off by the floating bar of social media buttons that urged me to like, share, tweet etc., even before I got a chance to read the content.

Does this mean that a business should not have content sharing buttons on their website?

Having no buttons means that the reader has to make a little more effort to share and validate the content. Too many buttons, and it clutters the page, increases load time, and some plugins may even trigger security alerts. But the most important negative impact is that, instead of motivating the reader to share the content, too many buttons overwhelm and confuse the reader, making them take no action at all. True. All successful sales people know that fewer choices achieve more sales, and in this case, more shares.

This brings us to the question – how many are too many when it comes to social media sharing buttons?

I would recommend 3, and 5 is the maximum, I'd say.

Top 3 social media sharing buttons for a website:

1) Facebook: This is an obvious choice, because of the sheer number of users, and the high engagement levels.

2) Google+: Yes, G+. The reason this beats Linkedin, Twitter, tumblr and many other social sites, is simply because Google+ really helps the business to be found on the web. Having more +1s on your website in an indicator for Google’s search algos that the content is good. And of course, having a Google+ business page helps with integrating your business presence with maps, local and a host of other Google products and properties.

3) The third place has 2 contenders. Twitter and Pinterest. Each of them is suitable for a specific kind of business. Pinterest is ideal for businesses that have a visual component to their offerings, e.g. e-commerce, food, fashion, apparel, accessories, jewellery, travel and hospitality. Twitter is great for websites that update content on a regular basis, like online news sites, or for web pages of celebrities.

Do you like to see a lot of content sharing buttons when you visit a website? Or do you prefer the uncluttered look, with a chosen few social media buttons?

We’d love to hear from you!