Are share buttons damaging your bottom line?

Buttons – they're everywhere
Buttons – they’re everywhere

Social media share buttons could be killing your conversion process.
Yes, I’ve said it. The buttons everybody craves for, are potentially stopping people from buying your stuff.
Now that’s NOT to say that I don’t advocate that people should share your content, or that you should make it easy to share.
But it’s those buttons.
They are conveniently placed at the end of your content, because that’s a great place for people to make a decision.
They’ve read your article. What can they do next?
[tweet “Sharing buttons could be killing your conversion process. #socialmedia”]
You can influence what your users do after reading your article, and the end of the post is a prime spot for that ‘conversion’ to take place.
Slap some share buttons on it? Brilliant. the reader can share your article on Facebook… or Twitter… or LinkedIn… or Pinterest. Maybe even all of them.
But roll back three paragraphs and let’s repeat ‘What can they do next?’
Is that really what you wanted them to do? Didn’t you want them to sign up for your newsletter with an average 40-fold increase in conversion? Or phone you so you can have a real conversation? Or even buy your stuff?
But you wasted that opportunity on a share?
Don’t get me wrong. Sharing is really important. But it should be a considered choice, not an in-your-face one.
In the grand scheme of things if all anyone did on your site was share stuff, you’d be very popular, but maybe not very rich!
I’ve been twitchy about social media share buttons for a while. A good while. In fact, I’ve removed them from this site. Not completely, but I will use them when I want to, not as a site-wide inference that ‘thou shalt share’.
And I don’t recommend them to customers as a matter of course because I think websites can choose a better commercial model than a sharing one.
[tweet “Social media buttons shouldn’t be a site-wide inference that ‘thou shalt share’ #socialmedia #cro”]

Share, share, without a care!

This regimental line of buttons are seen everywhere. Do we read and share, read and share, read and share.
If the last thing people do with your content is share it, then you could be missing a trick.
[tweet “If the last thing people do with your content is share it, then you could be missing a trick. #socialmedia”]
But actually, the problem may be more serious. Are people tired of seeing the buttons and NOT sharing at all?
USA Today’s sports blog ‘For The Win’ found that its readers weren’t sharing content through the tweet button so it replaced it with a much more select opportunity, an SMS sharing button, so readers could share an article with a single friend. Shares went up. Perhaps recognising that readers felt they were spamming their own network by using tweet buttons.
It now has three sharing options, email, SMS and WhatsApp, signalling that one-to-one sharing may be the shape of things to come.
A study by Visual Website Optimizer, a website conversion and testing platform, of a large ecommerce website found that removing social sharing buttons from product pages resulted in an 11.9 percent higher conversion rate than pages that contained them.

Distrust and distraction

Having share buttons on product pages meant that there were a high number of products that had never been shared or only shared a handful of times. The study showed that this led the customer to doubt the company and the quality of the product.
Once again, I have to ask, are share buttons a distraction you can do without. This is only the tip of the iceberg. You’ll learn a lot from reading more at the link below.

And as if more evidence were needed, prominent web commentator Paul Boag has ditched his social media buttons because they are ‘ineffective, damage site performance and distract from primary actions’. That’s enough to put anybody off!

He goes on to say that ‘they clutter the user interface taking precious moments of user attention’, ‘have a significant performance impact’ and ‘offer little benefit to users.’

It’s another great read if you are not a crowd-follower.

Sources:

USA Today’s sports blog ditched twitter buttons – Digiday
Do Social Share Buttons Help Ecommerce Conversions? – Practical Ecommerce
Saying no to social media buttons – Boagworld