Are Social Share Buttons Really Necessary on Your E-Commerce Website?

Social share buttons have become something of an expectation. Look at almost any e-Commerce 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. 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.

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 leveraging their existing audience to share content. It’s a way of getting their brand in front of a larger audience with little effort 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.

According to Moovweb, 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 if they’re bringing real value to your website, or if you just think they are integrated 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 negative social proof and too many undefined goals could have been the culprits. The number of social shares was too low, showing that not many people were engaged with the content. Also, having social share buttons seemed like a distraction from the main goal of selling the product.

It’s important to remember that social sharing does not equal sales. You should never let your sharing status 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 website. Store owners will need to look at their own content to see if they have something worth sharing.

For e-commerce store owners, you’ll need to consider your audience and the types of products you’re selling:

Will your products make someone likely to “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 sharing data with the account. In some cases, users can see how many times a particular item has been shared, which can be a quality indicator.

At a minimum, you should aim for some of the most popular networks: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube (for video content), and Pinterest. You can also add LinkedIn to the mix if it makes sense for your business and audience.

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.

Final Verdict: Do You Need Social Share Buttons on Your E-Commerce Website?

There’s a strong argument for and against adding social share buttons to your website. Almost 100% of mobile customers never use the social share buttons, but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely useless.

Though completely optional, our team at Glendale Designs recommends them. 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 —even if you’re not on social media yourself!