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.