The Nieman Journalism Lab followed up a few months ago:
Oftentimes an ugly site with ads and popups everywhere will perform better than a beautiful, minimalist site. Sorry, but that's just reality.
But I'm starting to find it inconvenient when social buttons aren't used. Maybe it's because I'm getting older...but partially because web developers are either moving too fast for me, or have no concept of graceful degradation. For example it is now impossible, from what I can tell, to provide a "right-click" tap on the New York Times website when you're on an iPad. That is, you can't hold to highlight text (which is helpful when tweeting the title of Tweet).
So call me a surrender monkey. Social buttons are the web-widget we deserve in the fractured development landscape.
Edit: I also have to dispute the OP's contention that the buttons are never used...blog posts of mine that get shared a lot almost always involve the Tweet button...It's easy to tell because I've configured the button to post the title and my name in a way that you wouldn't if you were manually creating the Tweet itself.
But if you're actually in the content game? hmm..
Edit: I should clarify - the extra traffic we received as a result of the extra social activity was tiny and in no way made up for the damage to conversion.
And there is this: http://www.areweprivateyet.com
The whole "Social" thing is .... largely annoying.
Of course, out of sight, out of mind - if your audience isn't tech savvy, perhaps they need that visible reminder to share something.
Also the craft of redesigning the buttons annoys me. How many designer-years have been spent redesigning the Twitter bird? This activity completely goes against basic UX principles but you cannot tell designers the truth about that.
Remember page counters? I think a 'Predator vs Aliens' style sequel to social network buttons is needed where you can see x million people have viewed this page but 0 people have shared it on StumbleUpon...
For example, take a technical blog post about something to do with computers. Facebook-wise, why on earth would most people share this? It's technical, and only a few of my friends out of about 150 (the average is ~130 I'm told) are actually techies. The kind of post that goes on FB is mostly personal or funny, never work.
Whereas Twitter, I might have followers who have 10,000+ followers of their own, ready for retweeting. This is more like a public broadcast, therefore I will be reaching the demographic I want, regardless of whether I know these people or not. It's an entirely different marketing strategy and yet you'll almost always see the whole cluster of buttons, without any consideration to their appropriateness.
I wish more web designers would think of the privacy violations they subject their users to, rather than just their own page impressions.
You lost me. Which privacy policies are they violating?
The second reason is they are ugly as sin and most of the community hate them.
A distant third reason is you then have an argument about neutrality and inclusion - which sites do we include and why. Which is an argument nobody seems keen on having given reasons (1) and (2).
More seriously, as others have said, the violation is of my privacy, not of some company's policy. Why did you jump to the other conclusion?
I don't actually have a EULA I make sites sign before I visit, but perhaps I should.
For Facebook, it is around 5% of all likes our articles collected. Not bad actually.
I think IE, of all things, had a feature a few releases back for exactly this scenario: a page could define some markup around the content that was shareable, and users could add browser plugins that picked them up and published them wherever they wanted. Does anyone remember what it was called?
Not sure why it's a surprise that IE would add features that require proprietary markup.
I came in hoping to see "because I realize I am making an assumption as to my readers' willingness to be tracked across multiple web sites". Instead, I got "it doesn't work because nobody really uses them".
I have always hated it. From a UX standpoint, it's just one more piece of distraction. I don't want your eyes looking at buttons, I want your eyes looking at my content.
(Or clicking on my ad, which I also hate but can't get rid of.)
- Facebook is not viral anymore and share or likes hardly bring extra traffic
- Twitter is mixed: in general you do not get decent traffic from them; but from time to time a +100K follower user either shares or retweets your thing and you get extra traffic or he/she initiate kind of virality (again this happens even for high traffic sites not very often)
- and of course they are just ugly
I created a small JS snippet (still need to put that up on Github) to grab the counts too which is quite easy.
Makes me wary of such things these days.
"If you found this interesting, I'd love it if you would spread the word [on Twitter]"
ugliness of buttons (you can style or use images however you like),
social media button visitor tracking
If I want to share, the URL's fine and dandy.
The one that immediately comes to mind is Information Architects."
Sharing buttons make it easy for non tech users to interact with your content on desktop. The alternative for them is to open a new tab with the social network they use, and paste your link. You lose the people who are too lazy to do this (a large chunk of your audience, don't fool yourself into thinking your content is so amazing that people can't wait to share it).
DNTMe is probably the worst choice to use for tracking protection, heres a study we have on the topic http://www.areweprivateyet.com
And yes, still not going to use Ghostery. :)