An article making the rounds today entitled Sweep the Sleeze talks about how website owners should be ditching the plus, like, share, tweet, etc. buttons that are on so many web pages, blog posts and the internet as a whole.
Popular tech blogs I read (i.e. Daringfireball.net, ShawnBlanc.net, The Loop) all have mixed reaction ranging from “those insipid per-post social media buttons” to “If nobody is using the buttons on the page, I’d gladly get rid of them.”
As of this posting, I have them on this site on individual posts only:
Social media buttons are not a social media strategy, even though they’re often sold that way. Excellent content, serious networking and constant human engagement is the way to build your profile. Adding those sleazy buttons won’t achieve anything. Social media is not easy — there is no simple trick. Usually, what most people do is not the winning strategy but the safe strategy, and safe rarely wins.
Which on principle I completely agree with. Creating good content is the key to building a successful blog or website. I do think that the buttons unnecessarily clutter up a website. They also make you look like you’re begging for someone to share your content and not just letting it happen organically. They also slow down the loading of your page, with multiple requests and bandwidth usage that can be painful for a mobile reader.
But the one part of the article I disagree with is this statement:
What I know for sure is that most people who know how to use social media also know how to share URLs
You can find anecdotal evidence to back up almost any argument if you search long enough on the internet. But I’ve met a few normal1 people who use Twitter or Facebook but have no idea how to copy and paste. Which means they literally do not know how to copy the URL for your amazing blog post and paste that into Facebook or Twitter.
Which is why I do include the share, tweet and G+ buttons on individual posts for now. I’ll see how much usage they get over time and decide if I should remove them. From a visual and technically standpoint, I’d ditch them right away. I do think it comes off a bit desperate and looks a little pathetic to see a fat zero next to a share or tweet button.
But for the same reason I try to add an accurate alt tag description to images on my site for people who don’t browse with images enabled, I want to make sure I’m helping those who wouldn’t otherwise know how to share or tweet about a web page2.