Sharing Buttons, Useful Tool or Unnecissary Sleeze?
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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.