How Many Social Sharing Buttons Do I Need?

Your web content should include social sharing buttons. People love discovering and sharing great content and social sharing buttons make it as easy as possible for people to do this.

The right number of social sharing buttons prompts more people to share content.
The right number of social sharing buttons prompts more people to share content.

A 2012 BrightEdge survey found that 84 percent of search marketing professionals believe social signals like Google +1s, Tweets, and Likes will be either “more important’ or “much more important” to SEO in the future. The rest of the respondents said they will pay the same attention to social signals as before. In other words, no one thinks that social signals will decrease in importance any time soon. Knowing which social sharing buttons benefit you most and keeping only those buttons is much smarter than putting up every sharing button you can find.

Too Many Social Sharing Buttons Can Overwhelm Readers

You’ve heard of banner blindness, but did you know there’s such a thing as “button blindness,” too? Overcrowding your site with share buttons overwhelms readers and can render them indecisive as to which sharing button or buttons to use. The result is that they’re more likely to skip sharing altogether.

Another consideration concerning sharing buttons is page load speed. The more buttons, the slower your page loads. Page load speed affects the user experience and hampers search engine optimization. And in 2007, Amazon reported that they lost one percent of sales for every 100 millisecond increase in page load time. Google has used load speed as a search ranking factor since 2010.

A third factor you should consider sounds rather juvenile, but it’s true: Content with zero shares looks bad. The more social sharing buttons with running tallies, the more your chances of “advertising” that a piece got no shares. Until your site consistently gets a healthy number of shares, choose sharing buttons that do not keep a running tally of shares.

How Many Sharing Buttons Should Your Content Have?

Your site should have sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Whether you should include other sharing buttons, like Pinterest or LinkedIn, depends on the specifics of your site. Look at the traffic sources reported in your site analytics to learn which social sites you get the most traffic from and make sure you have sharing buttons for them. For example, B2B sites often get regular traffic from LinkedIn and should probably choose that social sharing button over Pinterest. On the other hand, a trade site for caterers should include a social sharing button for Pinterest, which has a lot of content about food and weddings and caters mostly to women aged 25 to 54. In general, three to five sharing buttons is enough.

Great Content Prompts People to Share Regardless of Button Presence

Making content the best it can be prompts sharing regardless of sharing button presence.
Making content the best it can be prompts sharing regardless of sharing button presence.

You may worry that not having every social sharing button holds your content back from being shared. While you might miss the isolated share this way, the truth is people have shared content long before Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other sites came into being. People do know how to copy a link and share it, and if you have super content, they’ll find a way to share it even if you don’t have the sharing button they want. With three or four sharing buttons for the most popular sites, plus a consistent emphasis on the quality of your content, you can be confident that you’re maximizing sharing without causing button blindness or causing page load time to increase too much.

Social sharing is like free advertising. The more people share your site’s content, the higher your site’s profile. Having social sharing buttons is important to your audience development efforts, and having a selection of the most relevant sharing buttons is better than including every possible button available. If your site is loading slow, or if social sharing buttons aren’t delivering traffic, maybe it’s time to cull a few of them.

Audience development goes hand-in-hand with revenue development, and social sharing buttons can indirectly increase your site’s sales and ad revenues. RealMatch offers recruitment advertising solutions for media companies and digital publishers, which bring in new visitors and gives familiar visitors one more reason to bookmark your site. With powerful job board software, your site can be stickier and can make the most of the attention social sharing brings.

Photo Credits: bplanet /, adamr /

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