Second Guessing Social Media Buttons

“What if I had put Myspace links on, or Digg links on my stories in 2005? When you go back through the archive those would seem crazy, almost defacing of the content. Don’t those things belong in toolbars or bookmarklets?” – Dave Winer

And that’s just one problem with the proliferation of ‘twitter this’, ‘Facebook like this’, etc buttons.

  • The problem from the visitors’ perspective;
    Either I know what the logos and links mean for those services mean or – I don’t. If I know what they mean – I’ve got a bookmarklet or other mechanism that I’m comfortable using (you know for all the other sites on the internet without the logos). If I don’t know what they mean…um…is this a conversation the website publisher wants to have?
  • The problem from the website publishers’ perspective;
    It’s either free advertising or a complete distraction from the website publisher’s core offering. Worse, it assumes the website publisher knows the services its best customers prefer. In my experience, customer preferences move faster than website refresh schedules – so by the time the ‘Facebook Like’ button is integrated in a useful manner – the visitors changed their preference.

Yes, this is a refresh of the “The Problem with Badges” essay I wrote in 2006.

5 thoughts on “Second Guessing Social Media Buttons

  1. On the website visitors’ side, there’s a group in the middle, a group who knows what a “tweet this” button means and actually prefers to use it because they don’t have fancy bookmarklets (probably couldn’t even tell you what a bookmarklet is) and for whom things like and retweets are vaguely understood at best.

  2. People who never log out of Twitter and Facebook seem like the crowd for badges like this. In fact, for the Facebook crowd, liking stuff with one click whether on’s domain or not, is just what they do.

    1. Ed – I understand the value of performing the ‘Like’ gesture for people in the Facebook crowd. What I’m trying to understand is the business benefit the website publisher receives by hosting these badges.

  3. Yes, this hypothetical user (actually, I could give you names of at least two of them right off the top of my head) has a Twitter account. She uses Twitter somewhat regularly but doesn’t understand or care for URL shorteners and bookmarklets and copying and pasting headlines and the like.

    With just a couple of simple clicks from a Share This button or similar, she’s accomplished her goal of sharing my blog post with her Twitter friends. As a Web publisher, I gain the favor of these non-power users with little to no cost.

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