Yeah. You read it right. Everyone has been using those tiny, little buttons for so long that no one questions their benefits anymore. It never strikes our mind that if we do not really need to promote Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools on our website for free. Most of us think that if Mashable is doing it, we should too. And that is a big mistake.
Think about it. Mashable is popular, hugely popular. It has a solid presence on social media and it uses its clout to share its blogs and encourage readers to visit its website. Most of us do not do it the Mashable way. In fact, we turn the whole thing upside down and then wonder why our marketing strategies fail.
Mashable uses its social media profiles to increase visitor count but we try to increase engagement on our social media profiles through our blogs. Our line of thinking goes something like this: someone will find our blog, share it on his or her Facebook profile, and probably give us a like. The world does not work this way.
In the real world, there is only one thing that works—quality content. Though design is important, in the end, it boils down to those black pixels of text. And Zorbis is not the only one to say it.
Back in May 2012, Smashing Magazine announced it had removed FB buttons from their website. Can you guess what happened afterwards?
“We removed FB buttons and traffic from Facebook increased. Reason: instead of "liking" articles, readers share it on their timeline.”
What Smashing Magazine did flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Three years later, it should have been a part of history. But it did not happen. The magazine is thriving. And it is not the only big website to have foregone FB and Twitter buttons.
Information Architects (IA) have decided that they have had enough, you will not find any share-buttons on Basecamp’s blog, and Signal Tower has realized it can survive without shouting at readers to share its content.
“If readers are too lazy to copy and paste the URL, and write a few words about your content, then it is not because you lack these magical buttons,” writes Oliver Reichenstein, the founder of IA.
What is the harm?
Many of you may be thinking: “That’s okay, but what is the harm in keeping my website as it is? Why shall I bother to make changes?”
It turns out that there is not one, but at least three compelling reasons to call your designer:.
Three Ways Social Media Buttons Hurt Your Business
Slows Down Loading
Buttons can increase the loading time of your website by more than a second. This should be a concern if you are an enterprise. Google prefers websites that load faster. You may see your website rank take a dive if it is slow. In the world of Internet, every second counts.
Hurts Your Brand
You read it right. IA quotes Hilton Lipschitz as saying, “One article got 22,000 page views, but there were no Google+ or Facebook Likes and no Tweet shares.” Imagine this happening to you when you are an enterprise. Seeing those buttons blank may send a wrong impression on your readers and potential customers. They may think you are not popular and may decide not to read you.
Your reader has not jumped into 21st century from Medieval Europe. He or she is very likely to be a millennial, a digital native. If your content is good, it is going to be shared. And if it is poor, those buttons are not going to help you. But there are good chances that you will end up annoying your readers with those “Like It” or “Share It” pop-ups. They are especially annoying on mobiles, where screens are small.
It is unlikely that social media buttons
will be with us in 2020. So why not be ahead of the curve and start preparing for a more reader-friendly future? It is going to help your enterprise a lot.