Deciding whether to put social share buttons at the top or bottom of your articles?
Here’s my take on it…
The big question you have to ask yourself is what purpose do these social share buttons serve?
- Are they for social proof? – showing off your website’s popularity or authority?
- Are they for priority? – helping users find the most popular (or most impactful) articles.
- Are they just because you think everybody’s doing it? – hahaha.
- Or are they really for sharing? – to help users share on their networks or bookmark to read/re-read later.
What most sites do (top, bottom, everywhere)
Most sites are annoying and spammy as heck. They place social share buttons everywhere; sometimes even with a sliding button rack that follows you along the page when you scroll down. As if readers are more likely to share because a convenient share button was placed there.
That might work for a Facebook post but not for a real website in my opinion. C’mon now…we both know that isn’t true. When was the last time you shared anything from a website? And when was the last time you did because the button was readily available?!
The only kind of sites that this works well for are sites with viral-based content or time-based content. Funny video, catchy news story, big sporting event. The kind of thing that’s shared because it’s mainstream stuff that easy to talk about.
But I’m willing to bet your site isn’t one of these. So then why do it? Some do it because they think it makes their site look more legitimate or more professional…since it has all the common visual elements or the more well-known sites. If this is your rationale, I’d advise you not to worry about that. If you want a “professional” looking site, you can do it simply by having a nice clean web design.
What many other sites do (bottom of article)
This is the other most common option. They put the social share buttons at the bottom of the article. This to me, makes the most sense as typically users don’t share until after they’ve read your content and totally identified with it. I also like this as being cleaner and less clutter/distraction around the top of your website when you want users to go straight to reading the article.
I prefer having a clean streamlined design more than anything. Clutter-free access to high-quality content! Believe me, if your content is that good….they’ll share it.
I think the worst case scenario is when sites throw social share buttons everywhere and they either A) have zero share counts so it looks like a super spammy site just recycling content, or B) distract from higher value conversions like your own products, newsletter sign-ups, etc.
I guess it’s not WHERE you put the share buttons but HOW you do it. Are they gonna be clean and discreet? Or obnoxious in-your-face, and begging for attention?