Sharing Buttons, Useful Tool or Unnecissary Sleeze?

Ross Johnson's picture
Instructor
6/12/2012

Consider sharing it with your friends.

Sharing buttons— the small graphical icons that make sharing content over social networks and e-mail as easy as one click. Almost like a virus, these buttons have infected an exponentially increasing amount of websites over the past few years. Between the sheer number of social networks and the "more is better" approach, many websites are literally stuffed full of these not so subtle marketing ploys. Until now, most designers (including myself) assumed that including them would naturally lead to more sharing of content. More sharing means more traffic and more traffic means more sales (in theory.) But is the situation that simple? Are users clueless to the capability of sharing content? Do they need to be reminded that they can post an article to Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest? International design firm Information Architects say "No."

Are Sharing Buttons Sleazy?

In their recently published article "Sweep the Sleaze," Information Architects attack websites that overuse social sharing buttons. They claim not only do they rarely increase the number of times an article is shared they give off an air of desperation. Their argument is that great content doesn't need sharing buttons, users will share it regardless. By adding the buttons you are more or less "begging" users to share the content, inadvertently communicating your content might not be worth sharing on it's own merits.

What is Your Experience?

You have undoubtably visited sites that use social sharing buttons. How do you react to them? Do they remind you to share the content? Do they make you feel differently about the content, as if the publisher is begging you to share their less than stellar content? Let me know your thoughts about sharing buttons as marketing tool.

Comments & Feedback

Student

I think the share button has its negative and positive results since it is an instant social media action that you may not be able to take back; but in my opinion it is mostly beneficial than harmful so i use it often as well.Sharing the content is a way of sharing an experience or something that you basically enjoyed at the moment and that is what social media is about, I think. I think it is a necessary way of engaging with your followers or friends, so I use it especially in Facebook. Once the word is passed around it is exciting to see how much people discover other things than their interests by reading or listening another person's share. So in my opinion share button is a necessary and entertaining part of the social media features to engage .

 

Student

I guess I will have to agree to disagree, sharing icons, especially for Pinterest, are great! I can share information without even having to change platforms. Adding pins, tweeting articles and posting funny pictures to Facebook are all done with literally a click of a button. It’s especially great when articles make me think of specific people and I can just post is straight to their wall or tag them in the post. It may be sleazy, if you’re looking at a sleazy website. I have seen more websites that are well done and organized and offers you the ability to share to social media, doesn’t force you to share to social media. I guess that’s just my personal take, I like the sharing capability.  

Student

I think that the share buttons create unnecessary clutter on social media sights. They also create repeats upon repeats of the same information that clog up my news feeds. Also I think we the share button it gives companies exactly what they want... for their content to go viral on the internet and get the most recognition possible. I will admit that sometimes they make me feel differently about the content. Like if I see something I like I base my immediate recation towards the content on how likely I am to purchase it. This is exactly what companys want and I do agree that the share button is sleezy. It is a way to trick the consumer into making impusle decisions they would not make otherwise.

Student

I find that these "Share" buttons are quite sleazy. But not in the way described above, but more like the way that sleaziness brings infections. I feel like if I click those "Share" buttons, I'll probably end up in some sort of internet virus. If I were to see something posted on Facebook, I would be hesitant to click on it because Facebook is known to contain viruses like that. Maybe it's because I've never clicked the button before, but I feel nervous to post articles and videos places. In terms of websites having them for others to share, I think it's fine for websites to have them on there because it gives people the opportunities to share them with a click of the button. I just wouldn't do it for myself. 

Student
Student

I think the "Share" button is far from sleazy.  I think this is a great way for companies to gain earned media.  This is something that all companies or blogs hope for.  It is an easy way to get more information right from the source if it interests you.  Companies try so hard to build their reputation and they can only hope that trend setters pick up on their product or company and share it to all of their friends!  Very valuable resource to social media.

Student

The only time I really use sharing buttons is when I am too lazy to re-open my Facebook or Twitter, and I just want to click on the icon at the bottom of the page. I agree with the statement that if it is great content, people will share it anyways. I do this myself. I RARELY hit the share button on the articles site. I copy and paste the URL onto my Facebook or Twitter because I can add my own thoughts at the start of the post.

Share buttons do not change my opinion on the article, because I do not fault authors for wanting their work to spread through social media. I view those share buttons as a gentle reminder to pass along a great read. It's the world that we live in. Take advantage of every tool available to you and share your work.

Student

I personally am a big fan of social media and websites that has the sharing button. Social media is all about sharing your thoughts and getting connected with people online. A lot of articles, blogs, news pages and other internet websites now have sharing button. And a lot of social media users surf on the new pages, blogs and artilces online and often times wants to share whatever it is interesting and shocking to their friends. The "share button" makes it so much easier. A lot of times the "share button" do not only share the specific piece of information to people but also the source (website) of the information to people so they can follow the source website in the future for similar type of information.

Student

There are definitely both positive and negative aspects of Sharing Buttons. When used in moderation, they can do a lot of good for an individual or a specific company/website. When people “share” via social media it is a way to learn about what friends and others are interested in right now. When you share something you are letting others know that this product or topic is something of importance to you and maybe it will be to others as well. Websites containing share buttons are growing immensely I think due to the obvious fact that it draws more people in. While the attention may be positive or negative it is still a way for sites to get their name out there to the media and active consumers. There will always be those over users of sharing and putting too much information out there but overall, in moderation, share buttons in my opinion can have a positive impact on websites popularity.

 

Student

There are definitely both positive and negative aspects of Sharing Buttons. When used in moderation, they can do a lot of good for an individual or a specific company/website. When people “share” via social media it is a way to learn about what friends and others are interested in right now. When you share something you are letting others know that this product or topic is something of importance to you and maybe it will be to others as well. Websites containing share buttons are growing immensely I think due to the obvious fact that it draws more people in. While the attention may be positive or negative it is still a way for sites to get their name out there to the media and active consumers. There will always be those over users of sharing and putting too much information out there but overall, in moderation, share buttons in my opinion can have a positive impact on websites popularity.

Student

I think the Sharing Buttons are a great advertising strategy, if used correctly, but in today's world I feel like they are doing more harm them good.

I think the Sharing Button says a lot about a person's interests meaning if you "share" something you must feel strongly about the topic. With that, especially on social media sites I think the sharing button has the potential to cause many controversey because you are connected to so many people that the people who disagree with whatever is being shared, make judgements and either make an argument or pass right over the link. Facebook for example, if someone shares a link about politics, you right away open yourself up for a discussion on your page. 1. you are specifying a topic that is important to you and 2. you are drawing the attention of your friends who share the same interests about poltics, weather they disagree or agree. On the other side, your friends who don't care to much about politics find the "share" tactic annoying, bothersome, and taking up their feed.

I also think the Share button has the potential to make our society lazy. The share button allows us to focus on a single aspect of an event of news, it draws all of our attention to one place, which opposite to the news paper, only allows us to see a certain angle of what is going on it our world.

On the positive side, I think that share button is great marketing tool for advertising because for restraunts or retail stores they can spread the word about their store, coupons, future events in a quick easy way, "the click of a button." Easy. However I think because it is realitvely new, the share button is not necessary working in a way that best suits its potential.

Student

In my experience, I don't mind sharing buttons as long as they are not overly emphasized.  In the Are Sharing Buttons Sleazy? paragraph you said, "Their argument is that great content doesn't need sharing buttons, users will share it regardless."  I don't totally agree with this statement because people these days are lazy, and if something isn't convenient, they won’t do it.  Having the sharing buttons gives the reader a one-click solution to sharing the content with their friends.  Without the sharing buttons, the reader has to highlight the URL copy it then go to the desired social media site and then paste the URL into the status bar.  That might not seem like much work, but for some people they just won’t take the time.

            I do however agree that if there are too many different social sharing buttons it can look like you are begging people to share.  However, if a site has a Twitter and Facebook share button it does not give off that impression to me.

Student

In some cases, sharing button could be pretty annoying. Especially when you login into one of your social media account, and everyone was sharing one post for million times. however, as a marketing tool, sharing button seems to work very well. 

Even though some people may think that sharing buttion is unnecessary if the post or video really make a big deal or attractive enough. I agree that quality of the resources is quite important, but at the same time, sharing button is more effecient way to let other people know about how good the resources are. There will be no good about it if no one knows the resource. sharing button makes it more easier and faster when some good resources need to be shared, and it is also a good way doing advertising. More sharing buttons mean more people see the resource, I saw a lot of resources have been spreading out through sharing button. It gives people more information. sometimes you can find something useful and something you have always been looking for among others sharings. So I like sharing button and I think it works well.

Student

I feel that the social buttons are more on the side of unnecissary sleeze mostly because of the self advertising all of these share buttons try to attach to your shares. For example to tweet they usually add in the companies twitter name as well as a body that trys to get you to see more of the whole website rather than just the article. I feel if the share buttons just offered the link and you put your own text in there that would be a big improvement. If someone wants to share a page, they can just copy the URL and stick it in a post. It then becomes a 100% personal post, and not just using the website's post usually trying to help advertise themselves. Many website also display their share buttons in a way that they are overpowering the content of the site. By making them big and colorful, user's attention is dragged to the share buttons and not the main content of the page. I think share buttons should be used, but in moderation, and without prepopulated text.

Student

I don't think I could go without sharing buttons. While I'll admit that I can find a lot of over-hashed content very annoying, I also have to say that shared content has allowed me awareness to subjects that I'm very glad I was able to access. If it weren't for a share or two every now and then, I feel like I'd be out of touch with the world. A gem of useful information get's passed down the lines of sharing, and as small as it may be, I can't deny that I always find it. I don't often share, but other users sharing is something that I've typically appreciated rather than abhored. I'm a fan of sharing.

Student

Sharing buttons can be a little sleezy but in my opinion I actually like them makes it easier to share materials to their friends across networks without having to take the time out to make them have to go to the particular sites to see what you were talking about you can simply just push the share link send it to the person that you wanted to see what it is you wanted them to see. Therefore overall I like the share button.

Student
After last week's blog post I checked my Facebook page if any of my friend's were sharing any articles on their Facebook page. Turns out there were quite a few people sharing photos or articles on the web there. And I found myself clicking the weblink, any photos or article titles that seemed amusing to me. Obviously most of the sites now a days will have a share button, but there's nothing wrong with it. Even a bad article will have one, but there is a reason why they have and they just want to create more traffic. Just because the article has a share button makes it sleezy. I guess the way to know is to just read the article. Maybe the share button might turn some people off on certain occaison, and if I was the one that read a bad article I might feel I wasted my time there. My strategy will be to avoid any dodgy sites: any sites that are not well recognized. 
Student

I enjoy sites that have a sharing features. The site I often go to is NHL.com. and I have a group of friends who are big hockey fans. So if i see an article that is interesting or and video that I think they would enjoy I can simply click the share button, type in my friends name, and click post and still remain on the inital site. It makes sharing content easier and faster. Instead of copying the url, switching over to the social site, and typing it into their wall, posting, and returning back to my site the sharing button just makes this whole process cleaner and faster. After i share one article if i quickly find another good one i can click share again within 2 seconds its on their wall and im still on my site and if i find another good content i want to share i can repeat the process. This way i share more content faster. It's also nicer to see a link to an article on your wall vs seeing the whole url typed into your wall. 

Student

After giving it some more thought, I think share buttons can be very a useful tool. After commenting on this last week, I started paying attention to pages and how effective their share buttons are (how many facebook likes or Twitter shares they have.) It's very interesting how they are way more shares than I anticipted. I think this is because of the importance of these pages (video feeds, articles, promotions) that everyone wants to share with their friends. 

Student

While I did comment on this blog post last week, I sort of changed my mind after working further on this class, so here I go again. For the most part, I do agree with my last comment. I think sharing buttons have their place. But now after working on my blog and caring about it a lot more than I thought I would, I kind of wish there were sharing buttons available on each post. Then maybe my work would get passed around more, and my blog can grow even more. 

Student

I really don't have a problem with a Share button on websites. It's a good way to direct people to your website. As long as the two websites are reasonably similar in content, I think it's acceptable to do. If they aren't reasonably similar, then it doesn't really make sense, and I would have more of a problem with it.

Student

I personally use the Share buttons all the time! While, yes, sometimes they do make a website or article appear desperate (especially the more it has) it is an extremely helpful tool. I find myself almost always in a hurry, who isn't, and wanting to share things I read with friends, family, or even myself for future reference. A lot of times it actually even reminds me to share when I really liked it and wouldn't have thought to otherwise. Unnecessary at times, maybe, but well worth it for the times it is needed and utilized!

Student

I would tend to agree that the share button no longer increases the sharing of content. People have grown immune to the share button because it can be found everywhere. At the same time it has become so expected that if a website didn't have a share button people would complain. I think most people believe it has value, they just no longer fall for the marketing ploy.  

Student

I think sharing is great. I think it is very useful when everything flows together. If you are a fashion designer and that is your image across your blogs and other social media tools and you connect them all together I think that is perfect especially if you are heavily involved with all of your social media sites. I have never really used the sharing tools becuase all of my social media tools are used for play instead of building my own brand.

Student

To expand on what I wrote as a comment last week, I'm going to discuss my personal experience with share buttons. One issue that I consistently run into while sharing is the need to be constanly connected to your social media outlets in order to share things quickly and conveniently. If you are not logged in to your Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn pages constantly (as one's own personal computer might be) you would have to log in to be able to share it (of course, emailing a story does not have this barrier, but it is more difficult to share with the social networks available on the larger sites). This problem arises if you are not constantly logged in on your home computer or if you are using a public or work computer. There really isn't a solution to this (as in, there are no fixes if a reader isn't logged in). All web content creators can do is strive to write with such insight that users are motivated to share no matter what obstacles they encounter.

Student

Sharing is great, however it does at times become a little overwhelming. When people blow up the news feeds with only shared content it does get a bit distracting/rediculous. However, through all of their shitty posts, there are usually a few hidden gems. 

Content was meant to be shared, but try to find a happy medium between informative, and simply annoying. 

Student

I personally love the sharing button on websites that offer them. They help you send a message to your family and friends easily. It is a nice thing to just be able to click a button type in a friends email and send them the latest clothing item you think is hot instead of just telling them about it. They are not sleezy they may take away some leadership into the website seeing they may look like they are spam or just too much into your personal life but overall with my experience with the sharing to I think it is very helpful.

Student
I commented on this blog post last week, and seeing that there was no new post for this week I'll just comment on this one again. The cool thing is, I have proof that share buttons are effective and can help increase a site or blogs awareness. Last week I added share buttons to my blog and all of my posts. At first nothing changed, but after a couple of days I actually saw results. My latest post was shared four times last week and my amount of views actually went up substantially! There was a short period of time where I was down on my blog because I wasn't getting any feedback, but this has given me new hope. Share, share, and share some more people. Trust me, it works.
Student

I think that sharing buttons are actaully quite useful and aren't "sleazy" at all. When I read an interesting article and think other people will think it's interesting too, it's a lot easier for me to hit an icon that says "like" or "share." I don't need the buttons to remind me to share something but I do use them for convenience, which is a big reason internet use is so popular. Things that used to take hours to look up in books now take seconds, so let's apply that same conept to sharing buttons. If I want to share something and have to phyiscally copy and paste the link, it takes around a minute. But if I can find an aritcle I want to share and just hit a button to post it on my social media sites, that's way more efficient. These buttons don't bring a sense of desperation in my eyes, they give a sense of convenience. It shows me that whoever posted the article is confident in what they posted and are asking you to share it with others and I see nothing wrong with that.

Student

I don't think sharing buttons are "sleazy." I do think that because they are so common, they're overlooked much of the time or used unnecessarily in some cases. For example, here's a page from The Huffington Post. If you look in the right column under social news. There are "like" buttons below the thumbnail images of the headlines. This is an example of including unecessary sharing options. I haven't even clicked on the the article to read it yet, how do I know I want to share it or if I even like it? At the same time though, I do think they're somewhat useful. We write content so that others will read it and pass it on, not so that it can sit dormantly on the internet. Share buttons are a good one-click way to let readers voice their opinion about your content, good or bad. They don't change my mind about what I've read. What's less than stellar to me, may be brilliant to someone else and worth them having the option to share. 

Student

Sharing buttons have their pros and cons. I think I only used these buttons either when someone asked me, or when the topic was so interesting, that I really wanted to tell my friends about it. I think social media using consumers are sometimes worried, that if they share everything they like, that effects their friend of follower list negatively: no one's likes to read promotional materials all the time posted by someone. This created a selective sharing, which means, an average person (on my friends list at least) shares either something really funny or something really interesting. Boring things never get shared. 

Student

I think sharing content is a good way to increase traffic to a website, but I think that a lot of sites are overusing share buttons. Personally, when I see a lot of share buttons for an article, blog post, video, etc. I definitely take it to mean desperation. If something is sharable to my network, I don’t need to be reminded to show them on 583149264 different social media platforms. Oftentimes, I post the link to what I want to share on Facebook and a thumbnail of the link shows up, taking you directly to the content. You can bypass the share buttons entirely. However, share buttons do look nice on websites when displayed tactfully.

Student

I think sharing buttons are very convenient all you have to do is click share and your done. It takes a lot longer if you have to do it the old fashion way. Share buttons are a great idea and I don’t feel that having share buttons on your page is you begging for the shares, it’s there for convenience.

Student

I like sharing buttons. I am definitely guilty of filling my friends' newsfeeds with stupid articles and random announcements that only I care about. I think that posting share buttons in every grubby instance is definitely annoying but I wouldn't get rid of them completely. I love how simple it is to spam my friends, but I'm sure they'd take an opposite stance on this matter. 

Student

I am indifferent when it comes to the "share button" on social networks. I personally never used that button but it is extremely commonon Facebook. It does essentially provide friends an easy way to share photos, videos and articles. I don't feel like its cheesy just easier !

Student

I liked the sharing buttons you chose to share this particular post :) I think they are ultimately very useful but they can be annoying if you don't have your computer set up to automatically log in to all your accounts. If you're a heavy user it may be convenient but there is the security risk.

Student

I rarely share material with my entire social network, but I often share content privately with a few close friends.

Why is that?

Well, I suppose if I’m going to make the effort – even if it is just a mouse click – to share material, then I want it to be with those I feel will truly appreciate it.

Yes, I could post a video of a cat playing the piano for my entire network. And, maybe a few random people will see it. And, maybe they’ll find it amusing. But, I’d much rather send the video directly to a close friend who is a cat lover because I know they will definitely watch it and enjoy it.

Although, I’ve found some of the most interesting and entertaining material often comes via mass broadcasts through my social network. So, I’m grateful when people alert me to articles and such that I might not otherwise see. I’m just not one to send out content to the masses.

Interesting dichotomy, huh? 

 

Student

Sharing Buttons aren't sleazy if your content is well written and interesting. Sharing buttons just make it that much easier and more convenient for me to share great information and content. I would most likely share the post anyway, but adding the sharing buttons allows me to do so quickly - not to mention, it gives me more time to move on to the next great post! If the content is boring, I usually just ignore the share button and don't even notice their existence.

Student

I wouldn't say these social sharing buttons have any affect on the percieved merit of the content. I have never used these buttons myself, I just overlook them entirely. To me they just serve as decoration, if someone really wanted to share something they would take the lengths to do so. I feel like these social sharing buttons are everywhere now, so I just expect them to be there and generally ignore them. 

Student
It’s interesting how you blogged on this subject. I was just talking with a friend about when I see a site with a list of more than 3 or 4 social media buttons it appears to as if they are acting out of desperation. A desperation stemming from a lack of true target markets identification. Does it affect the merits of the content? No. If the content is good, then it’s good. My true feeling on the matter is that the ‘poor’ site manager is being pressured into covering all of his/her bases.
Student

I don't usually notice the sharing buttons on different websites, mainly because they are everywhere now. If I ever do decide to share a website, article, or video I just post the a link on my Facebook or Twitter with out even thinking of the share buttons.  Using that logic I think the share buttons are pretty much useless and it does seem like they are trying too hard to get you to share their content. 

Student

In my opinion the sharing icons you see on many websites are not sleezing to me, I think a marketing genius came up with this idea. Sharing things pushes profit for your business which is what every seller is trying to do. The button allows for people to share with their friends significant other and anyone they feel it may be useful to. Sharing is caring as most say and the more you share the more you are able to share the experience with someone else which makes it that much better. As long as the sharing icon is not on my bank statement or anything with personal information on I am perfectly fine with the sharing key and think it should continued to be implemented.

Student

I think share buttons are very unnecessary. Although there may be that one chance that you would repost the information if you found it interesting. When ever I find information that I find interesting I save it on my computer then share it with a direct person through Facebook, Twitter, or Email. I do not find it necessary to share something on the feed of Facebook so everyone can see it. Most likely when this does occur it is some viral or offensive picture with thousands of likes but half the time it is something that only one person may have been interested in. I just find it relevant that if you find something interesting to directly share it with someone that will find interest in it, not the whole social media scene.

Student

I think they are tacky. That being said, I will admit to sharing posts on Facebook from other people I'm friends with if it makes a huge impact on me. Generally the only things I share are local news stories that I know will affect people in my community (mostly kids my age). BUT I think relevant news stories are a very small percentage of the share button stats. Mostly it's spam and accidental clicks that get shared. Or pointless pictures with overused quotes. Either way, I'm not a fan 95% of the time and I think it's true what was said above- great content will be shared regardless of the existence of a share button.

Student

I really don't pay too much attention to the sharing buttons on websites, and I'm honestly not sure if I have ever used one. That being said, I agree with the part of the post that says good content will be shared regardless, but why not make it easier for people to do so. If someone really wants to share something they'll find a way anyways, but I don't see anything wrong with having the option there of making it faster and easier. I don't think these buttons being on a page are desperation, I think it encourages people to share the content, and is almost a courtesy to those who do share it.

Student

When it comes to share buttons, I feel like there has to be a happy medium. There are, of course, the sites that overload on the share buttons and lose credibility because of all their solicitation for shares. However, when considering the steps that some sites are taking to seemingly force sharing, we should be fortunate that we're given a choice. Recent sharing settings being employed through certain Facebook applications require users to automatically their reading of an article or their viewing of a video, effectively requiring privacy infringements if you want to use the application.

Like I said earlier, there has to be a happy medium when it comes to sharing. Giving users no options to share won't help you at all, and it will impede users who decide to share content on thier own. However, overwhelming users with too many share options or forced sharing could turn users away from sharing all together. If you are able to provide a reasonable amount of share buttons that make sharing convenient but not feel forced, you'll have found the happy medium.

Student

I personally feel as though the sharing button is a useful and easy way of advertising something you want to be known! I always using sharing buttons becuase I feel they are useful! If i come across something I find interesting Im quick to press the share button. I have seen many post that have been shared on facebook and I think like whats the point of sharing certain things and when things are shared too much then I feel thats when it becomes a problem! I dont feel publishers are begging me to share their content becuase if its somethings thats not interesting to me or that I feel isnt worth sharing then I wont shre it! I share what I feel is necessary and things I like!

Student

Sharing buttons seem to have started taking steroids in the past few months/years.  While they can be a clean and convenient tool for the very rare time I feel compelled to share what I've read with others, they have also gone a bit overboard. I never perceived it as begging but rather, it seems more like when someone asks you for a favor and makes it very very easy for you to say yes. What concerns me is I feel that sharing buttons have become an indicator of quality.  If you are reading an article that has many shares listed, is that good reason to assume it is a quality article? Or is it just popular? 

Student

I do not think the share buttons themselves are annoying, as long as their compact in one place on a page. However, I do find the people who constantly share every single page or article they read quite annoying. Personally, I don't think everyone wants to know every little thing I read or view online, and I certainly don't care for everything others view. In certain cases I will click someone's shared link if it looks interesting to me. I just can't stand people who clutter my newsfeeds with page after page shared. I think the buttons help encourage people to share the content with the ease of one click, instead of copy-pasting a link. I suppose that point makes the buttons effective in a way.

Student

For me the sharing buttons are sleazy. For my own personal website or blog I just want to express myself and share my thoughts on it and I do not think i need to push the specific button to share it with others I do not recall. But for business purposes I think this button can be very useful. I think it is very important to show and express their items or their ideas for many people as possible and some websites visitor depends on their certain business such as putting a advertisement on their website could lead to a profit of the business. personally I would not use the button to let other people that I do not know to share anything with it but for business I think it is another way of show off to others.