Today's lecture: removing the persistent "share" buttons at the end of every post.
I read a great article today by Oliver Reichenstein at Information Architects called "Sweep The Sleaze" – and it made me think (again!) even more closely about WHY we put all the crufty tidbits all over our pages online. Do we really want our own pages – blog posts, carefully constructed essays, linky goodness – to look like every other page? Do we put up those sharing links to attract more links? Is it voodoo? Or do we put them up as markers about how popular our posts are, bragging about our site?
If I'm a middle-of-the-road sort of book blogger, going my own way, and I'm not attracting Boing Boing levels of attention, does it even matter? Do these buttons BUILD traffic for my3books? Or do they just serve as advertising for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc?
As Reichenstein put it: "What we know for sure is that these magic buttons promote their own brands — and that they tend to make you look a little desperate. Not too desperate, just a little bit... The user doesn’t come out of nowhere. We don’t land on your page and then head happily to those social networks to promote you, just because you have a button on your site. We find content through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest etc., not the other way around."
He also linked to an earlier post at the ZURBlog titled Small, Painful Buttons: Why Social Media Buttons Might Be Killing Your Mobile Site. In one sentence: "Those tiny Tweet, Like, +1 buttons you see on websites are actually brutally large elements to load for these constrained devices."
More evidence in support of this approach, via Smashing Magazine:
We removed FB buttons and traffic from Facebook increased. Reason: instead of "liking" articles, readers share it on their timeleine.— Smashing Magazine (@smashingmag) May 22, 2012
So, today's changes: I pulled the social media link buttons out of my page template. Feel free to tweet about or share my posts on your Tumblr, Facebook page. You don't need my help to do that!