Report: Social Share Buttons Are Useless and Unused

Share buttons were implemented to give readers an easy way to share content, but 99.8 percent of them are unused on desktop and on mobile.

MoobwebShareButtonsMobileChartWhen Web use was dominated by desktop and laptop browsers, social share buttons were an important part of social media campaigns. Now users are spending more time on mobile devices and more time in applications. Data from Moovweb, a mobile experience optimization firm, shows that social share buttons are practically useless on mobile.

Moovweb studied 61 million mobile sessions and discovered that 99.8 percent of mobile users never engage with social share buttons. In fact, mobile users are 11.5 times more likely to click ads than they are to click social share buttons.

But how does that compare with desktop browsing? Only 0.6 percent of desktop users clicked share buttons, compared with 0.2 percent for mobile users, so overall engagement with these buttons is very low.

Moovweb was still able to track tens of thousands of share button engagements during the research period. The site with the highest engagement was Facebook, followed by Pinterest and Twitter, but all of these numbers were still below 0.1 percent.

The real story isn’t the decline of share buttons, but the growth of apps. Most social users are accessing networks through apps, not browsers. Many apps have tried to eliminate the need to leave the app with in-app browser experiences or by implementing deep links to move between apps.

Moovweb also notes that without being logged in socially, sharing with share buttons can be more cumbersome than useful:

For starters, you have to thumb type your user name and password. If you’ve been saving your password in-app or in-browser, you might have forgotten it. Resetting a lost password is a huge hassle on mobile.

For now, apps seem to be the best solution we have for accessing networks through mobile. Maybe in the future, apps will go away, but it’s unlikely that we’ll see a resurgence of the social share button if they do.


Image of share button courtesy of Shutterstock.