I regularly deliberate over where to position share buttons and their associated counters on blog posts.
There’s two key tensions:
- Making counters large and positioned prominently can mean more sharing of your posts but it can also mean more clutter which distracts a reader away from the content itself and may even be off-putting.
- Placing share counters at the top of blog posts or on pages for which there are just post excerpts may encourage people to share before reading but it may also encourage others to read if there are a lot of shares for that post already (or vice versa for posts without shares).
I do not like the share buttons which follow you down the page as you scroll as a general rule. However, I do not mind it on Mashable, since it is a tech/breaking news blog and people share their content in large quantities. On other sites, these make me feel as if I’m being continually pestered to share the content and it is distracting and off-putting.
When I’m browsing, I prefer to see sharing buttons at the bottom of blog posts as an optional action after I have read the post.
For those pages where you do want to help readers make a decision about reading it by using shares, a combined share measure would* be ideal. (I recently discovered Sharrre which gives you more flexibility than AddThis or ShareThis). Just as “220 comments” tells me something about a post before reading it, so does “20K shares”.
* I say would, because the Twitter/Facebook/G+ branded buttons are now so familiar that these have seem to have more trustworthiness than generic “share” counters or buttons.
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