Social share buttons have become something of an expectation. Look at almost any eCommerce website and you’ll likely see the familiar icons of Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest accompanying individual products or blog posts.
But are all these social share icons really necessary?
The answer might appear to hinge on whether or not you’re using social media in your marketing strategy (you should be, by the way). But in reality, your own social media presence doesn’t matter in this case.
What Social Share Buttons Do
Social sharing refers to social media users broadcasting web content on a social network to their connections, groups, or specific individuals. Products, blog posts, articles, and other content appears in the user’s profile and news feed as a post, or can be sent directly via message or email.
It’s become one of the most flattering benchmarks for brands to measure their content performance and quality. The more the content is shared, the more people see it and the higher quality it appears to be.
One of the primary aims of corporate social media marketing strategies is to generate brand awareness by encouraging their audience to share content. It’s a way of getting their brand in front of a larger audience with little effort (or cost) on their end.
Social share buttons make it easy to do this with a couple clicks. Users don’t have to leave your website to share a great piece of content with their connections. Just click the button and you can post directly to your social media profiles.
What You Should (And Shouldn’t) Expect from Your Social Sharing Buttons
On the surface, social sharing buttons sound like a no-brainer feature. Of course you want your audience to share your products with others. It’s free marketing!
But marketers and e-tailers tend to set unrealistic expectations when it comes to what those social sharing buttons actually deliver.
Unfortunately, 99.8% of mobile users never touch the social sharing buttons. Desktop users are more likely to use social sharing buttons (35% more than mobile users), but would rather share content in their own way.
In fact, some studies have discovered that removing social sharing buttons increased conversions! This is a tough pill for marketers to swallow, since the majority of online shoppers have at least one social media profile.
If you’re on the fence about using social sharing buttons, consider whether they’re bringing real value to your website. Or are they only there because they’ve become a standard feature on most websites?
In a case study that saw higher conversions after removing social sharing buttons, it was determined that the number of social shares was too low. This discouraged other users from sharing. That is an annoying, vicious cycle; users won’t share because not enough users have shared!
On top of that, having social share buttons seemed like a distraction from the main goal of selling the product. They cluttered the page, and the easily identifiable logos pulled attention from the Add to Cart button.
It’s important to remember that social sharing does not equal sales. Don’t let your goal of increasing shares pull focus from your actual goal of driving sales. It’s a vanity metric that doesn’t offer the best insights into your marketing, especially when you can’t determine why people are sharing your content.
How to Choose What’s Worth Sharing
This isn’t to say that social sharing buttons never work—in fact, they do in many cases! But it’s not the best move for every page on every website. Store owners will need to look at their own content to see if they have something worth sharing.
For eCommerce store owners, you’ll need to consider your audience and the types of products you’re selling.
Are your products likely to make someone “pin now, look later”, or earn the envy of their friends on Facebook? If so, then by all means you should enable sharing buttons.
Are you writing blog posts that can help to sell your products? If so, then you’ll want to enable sharing for Facebook and Twitter (and possibly other networks).
If you opt for social sharing, make it easy for your users to take advantage of it. Test your content to see what it looks like when users click the Share button. If you find that images are pixelated or your content otherwise looks strange, you’ll either need to fix it or nix it altogether.
Remember, the whole goal of social sharing is to promote yourself across channels. If your products aren’t going to reach the right audiences or your users aren’t concerned with sharing, then it’s not a worthwhile investment for you. But if you feel confident your users will want to share your content, high numbers can help build trust with future customers.
It’s up to you to make every share count.
How to Add Social Share Buttons to Your E-Commerce Website
If you don’t already have social share buttons on your product pages or blog posts, they’re not hard to add.
Services like AddThis, AddShopper or ShareThis make it easy to implement social sharing functionality and include data insights with the account. In some cases, users can see how many times a particular item has been shared, which can be a performance indicator.
At a minimum, you should aim for some of the more popular networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can also add LinkedIn to the mix if it makes sense for your business and audience. The option to share a direct link via email, messenger, or SMS can be beneficial as well.
There’s no set rule about how many social share buttons you need, but most websites stick with three or four. Too many can feel busy and overwhelming and take away from your sharing goals. And like any other feature you add to your site, be sure to test it very well before making it widespread.
How to Encourage Social Sharing
If you do decide to move forward (or continue) with social share buttons, you may need to consider ways in which to encourage their use.
- Call to action. It really could be as simple as asking users to share. A call to action like “Don’t forget to share this post!” can be enough to convince users to do it. How many times have you been watching a YouTube video and only click “like” or “subscribe” after you’ve been reminded?
- Reward Points. If you offer loyalty rewards to your shoppers, then sharing is an excellent way to improve interaction while earning your customers points. Many businesses offer an exchange of points for social posts, and use of hashtags.
- Shareable Content. Above all else, make sure your content is worth sharing. Beautiful images, catchy headlines and product names, and interesting meta descriptions will all help.
Final Verdict: Do You Need Social Share Buttons on Your eCommerce Website?
There’s a strong argument for and against adding social share buttons to your website. Consider removing the shares counter from the page so low shares don’t discourage others. And don’t forget that sharing is, at most, a secondary goal on a product page; don’t sacrifice your sales funnel for social shares.
Though completely optional, we do recommend adding them. If placed correctly, they’re not hurting anything by being on your web page. And even if only a handful of your customers decide to use them, you’ve earned some free marketing that took very little effort on your end.
Need help adding social share buttons to your e-commerce website? Schedule a consultation with our team today and let us help you maximize your social presence.