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Do Social Sharing Icons Negatively Impact on Marketers Conversion Rates?

Do Social Sharing Icons Negatively Impact on Marketers Conversion Rates?

by Ben Wittams-Smith21st January 2015

Do Social Sharing Icons negatively impact on Marketers Conversion Rates

The impact of Social Media on online marketing is profound. Such a large proportion of the developed world are signed up to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+, seeking to connect with people, material and companies which could enhance their prospects, industry knowledge and business networks.

As such, it seems logical that marketers ought to include social sharing icons on their product pages, their promotional articles and product galleries.

Surely these would provide visitors with a way of distributing your material across multiple social networks via the click of a couple of buttons, rather than cut & pasting the URL, and most likely posting it on only one of their social media profiles before moving on?

Wouldn’t boosted coverage, resulting from a visitor approving of your product or content enough to share it with the people they hold in esteem, positively impact upon your conversion rate? And thus, is including social sharing icons not a way to provide these visitors with as much convenience as possible to this end?

Whilst there can be no doubt that social sharing icons do increase the efficiency with which visitors can share a site’s material, there is an argument that they could call the visitor away from the primary purpose of a marketer’s webpage – to sell the product.

Social Sharing Icons negatively influencing Conversion Rate…?

According to a case study from Visual Website Optimizer,, a Finnish online retailer selling a multitude of hardware items A/B tested their product page to assess what format would yield the greatest click-through rate.

Taloon.coms’ data showed that their pages yielded an 11.9% greater conversion rate when they did not include social sharing buttons.

“Maybe those share buttons were just extra clutter and distraction on a very good spot,” mused Jani Uusi-Pantti of

This is a sentiment echoed by Paul Boag, in his article entitled ‘Saying No to Social Media Buttons’ – – he accuses social sharing buttons of swaying visitor’s attention away from a marketer’s primary call of action, whilst detracting away from the product page’s interface. He even lambasts them for their debilitating impact on page loading times due to stemming from a third party server, which would further hamper their ranking in search engines.

However, going back to, it must be remembered that the majority of the Finnish retailer’s pages had not been shared by visitors. This implies that social icons do affect conversion rates, as visitors are far less likely to engage with pages which ostensibly have low interaction already – and advertising that your pages have few to no social media interaction is likely to dissuade potential leads from converting as it suggests lack of worth.

But people are inherently self-concerned; they imbibe the information needed to aid their endeavours, and any notions of sharing the information or product are, in the main, considered unnecessary.

As such, they are concentrated on finding what they seek – whether that be a product or piece of content – and then moving on – this brings us onto the concept of ‘social proof’.

Social Proof – Impact on Conversion Rates

Social proof is the psychological phenomenon denoting the need felt by humans to seek the dispositions of others as a gauge of how to behave in a given situation.

It’s classic follow the leader – if something is obviously popular, we’ll credit its legitimacy and buy into it, whereas if something has not been engaged with by many people, we’ll innately overlook it.

Thus, if your product page or content page displays social sharing icons, which show low engagement with your site, visitors will be more likely to bounce; conversely, if your site’s page has been tweeted, shared on Facebook and G+’d profusely, it follows your site will yield greater numbers of conversion.


Simply including social sharing buttons on your product and content pages will not intrinsically encourage visitors to share your content. For someone to share something, they must consider it innovative, instructive and engaging.

Thus, using tact and straight-up common sense when placing your social sharing buttons is paramount; let’s face it, anyone seeking to purchase an electrical device from isn’t looking to share it with their entire social/business network – that’s preposterous.

However, if you run a blog or release how to guides/case studies, then interested parties will share your information with peers they seek to impress their newfound opinions on; they’ll seek to spark debate placing your perspective alongside many others in a field. Social media is exactly for that – generating a buzz, synthesising debate.

As far as marketer’s peddling tangible goods are concerned, sales are far more significant than social media. As such, promotional material about the product could have social sharing buttons placed alongside it, but on the product page itself – why imperil the call to action i.e. the ‘buy here/add to cart’ button with social sharing buttons.

Perhaps introducing the buttons on the page following a successful transaction could work, and A/B testing this for your product page would no doubt make for some interesting inferences.



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About The Author
Ben Wittams-Smith
Ben Wittams-Smith is a content writer for Just SEO and the Company Director of JSEO LTD. As a specialist in SEO, SEM and digital marketing, Ben regularly contributes content and provides analytic insight in these areas.

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