Before we dive into which social media buttons, we need to cover how many you should use.
Each and every social media button on your site needs to earn its place. If your visitors aren’t using the button, it’s only getting in their way.
Take the Indian Luxury Trains Blog (totally random, I know) as an example. When scrolling down the home page, your browser will come to the bottom of the post and you’ll see 17 social media buttons lined up pleading for your attention. That’s right, 17 of them. Here’s a screen shot to prove it:
They actually have another 5 to bring the total to 23. The ShareThis button opens a pop-up with 5 more buttons. That’s ridiculous.
So why is this a problem? Aren’t we giving our visitors more choice? Won’t more people like us if we always have their preferred social network? Wrong.
When you only have 2-4 buttons, it’s supper easy to get people to act on impulse. The thought process for sharing is so quick, simple, and easy that people can instantly do it. There’ no thinking and no effort. And when there’s no effort, more people will do it. Which gives you more tweets, likes, and +1’s.
You’re asking your visitors for a favor (to market your business for you) so don’t make them work harder than they need to.
Choice is good, but too much choice is awful. When people have more choices than thay can comfortably handle, they’re forced to make a deliberate decision. This takes time and energy that could be better spent elsewhere.
And don’t assume a few seconds looking through social media buttons isn’t a big deal. You’re fighting for every second of attention you can get. There’s viral Youtube videos, Facebook chats, trending hashtags, new emails, and texts all competing for the same few seconds. And once one of these more entertaining sites grabs the attention of your visitor, s/he is gone. You probably won’t get a second chance so make every moment count.
Here’s the bottom line: every second of our visitor’s attention is precious. Use it as wisely as you can. Focus your website on the few critical elements that make or break your business. Take a machete to everything else.
7 Principles for Selecting the Right Social Media Buttons
- Above all else, use the social media buttons that your target market uses. If they don’t use Facebook or Google+, get rid of them. If they’re on Pinterest and StumbleUpon, definitely use those buttons
- When you don’t know what to use, start with Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
- If you focus heavily on a B2B market, test out LinkedIn.
- Aim for 2-4 social media buttons.
- Be wary with StumbleUpon. Even though a few sites have built their business models on StumbleUpon traffic, this is not the norm. The conversion rates from StumbleUpon tend to be horrendous. If you need to make room for another social media button, StumbleUpon should be the first to go.
- Definitely test new buttons. But when one consistently under performs, get rid of it.
- Don’t hide your buttons in a pop-up. Plugins like ShareThis are very popular because they condense dozens of buttons into a single pop-up. When you use plugins like this, you inconvenience your users. Remember: every second of attention and every click is precious. Pick the most important buttons and make them super easy to use.