Does Anyone Use Social Sharing Buttons?
Social sharing is big. In Q4 of 2014, social drove over 30% of all traffic to sites. With social sharing driving so much website traffic, marketers do everything they can to encourage it and make it easier.
One of the ways we try to encourage users to share our content is by placing social sharing buttons on each page of our sites. The thought is that having easy to access buttons makes people more likely to share as it takes some of the additional steps out of the process. It’s also a top-of-mind thing where having them present may remind or encourage people to share our content. While social sharing buttons seem to be a no-brainer, there’s a big problem with them. Almost no one uses them.
Sharing Is Caring
How often do people click the social sharing buttons? Not very. A recent study by Moovweb found that just 0.6% of desktop users clicked social sharing buttons and only 0.2% of mobile users ever use them. In other words, use of social sharing buttons is almost non-existent. Mobile users are 11.5X more likely to click an ad than they are a social sharing button. Think about how often you click on ads then let that sink in.
Do you use social sharing buttons? Even if they do save us a couple clicks, most seem to prefer to simply copy the URL and paste it into Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn themselves. Or there are those like myself that simply use the Buffer extension to schedule all of our great content to post on schedule. No matter how you choose to share, one thing is clear; no one really uses the social sharing buttons.
Shy Away From Share Buttons?
If no one uses them, are they worth having? The answer is yes, with a couple considerations. Even if only a small percentage of people use them, there still are those that find them useful. At 0.2% of mobile users, that’s still 2 in every thousand that will find them useful. Who knows, those 2 shares may come from people with huge social networks filled with people that are highly engaged and result in thousands of new views. A couple lost shares is a couple lost shares. Don’t miss out on them if you don’t have to. They could potentially be the difference between someone sharing your page or not.
While it may not hurt to have sharing buttons, even if they aren’t overly used, keep in mind that every element of a website adds to the load time of a page. When a single second can cost you millions of dollars in sales per year, it’s something to consider. Many WordPress plugins are heavy resource hogs and quickly load your website down. If you’re going to use a social sharing plugin, make sure you opt for one that’s optimized for speed, like Elegant Themes Monarch. Many plugins also track usage so you’ll be able to see if the buttons are something your visitors make use of, or if it’s time to retire them.
Share Nice. Or Don’t.
While social sharing buttons on your site may not see much use, they’re still an element many expect to see on your website. Though rarely used, those that do make use of it still help to expand the reach of your content. While the choice to keep or retire your sharing buttons may take some analysis, the tradeoffs from removing them or leaving them can help site success either way. Weigh the options and figure out of social sharing buttons are right for your site.