Sharing buttons that beg

How do you feel about social sharing buttons on websites?  This is not be confused with social media icons that allow users to connect with a company’s social media platforms.  Social sharing buttons are usually located nearby chunks of content, allowing readers to share content with their social media platform of choice.

Their effectiveness is debatable, you can easily find research both in favor and not in favor of their influence on increased shares. Of course, content owners all want sharing, it’s wonderful for your content.  Sharing can lead to an increase of visitors to your website and if shared enough, boost your search engine results.

The key is balance.  Non-intrusive yet easy to locate sharing buttons vs. in your-face-not-leaving-even-when-you-scroll-down-the-page sharing buttons.  It’s always a good thing to give people options, and the sharing buttons are a great option, and convenient when done right.   But buttons that diminish from the content itself can come across as desperate.  When I encounter social sharing buttons that float, slide, or do anything else that should be saved for the swimming pool, I feel as if I’m being begged to share.  The content should be strong enough that the user won’t need to be begged.

Creating opportunities for your users to spread your word is a good thing.  Having the sharing menu eclipse the content that it is intended to be shared is a disproportionate, distracting display of content.

I have three questions, answers all three if you are able.  What do you think about sharing buttons?  Do you use them?  Do you use them as a web owner?  Do you use them as a web user?  Okay, that’s four questions.