Two weeks ago Smashing Magazine caused a commotion on Twitter:
We removed FB buttons and traffic from Facebook increased. Reason: instead of "liking" articles, readers share it on their timeleine.— Smashing Magazine (@smashingmag) May 22, 2012
If you’re planning to follow them here’s my advice: Think it twice.
Who is your audience?Smashing Magazine's readers are mainly designers and web developers. Both know perfectly how social networks work, and although they probably find the sharing icons useful (I do), they have no problems manually sharing good articles. We damn love showing our friends how much we know about everything.
Is your audience that Internet-savvy?
You’ll probably think that copying and pasting a link on Facebook is trivial, but you’ll be surprised on how many people struggle to do apparently trivial stuff. Don’t forget you’re an expert, and that maybe others could benefit of those little aids when they read something interesting. Which brings me to my next point.
How good is your content?People love sharing good content. The absence of Like buttons, share on Twitter and so on won't stop them if they find a great article.
Is your content that good? If the answer is yes don’t worry, you probably don’t need all those sharing icons that add clutter to your design. Actually your traffic could be increased as algorithms tend to promote manually shared content versus automatically posted one.
But chances are that your content isn’t that good. In that case a nicely positioned Like can be of great help, as many users react to them as a meh, worth having a read. If they have to make the effort to manually share it then probably won’t do it.
In a nutshellPublish good content and people will talk about it.
And if you’re not convinced about my reasons, you should check Oliver Reichenstein’s post about the topic, he explains it a lot better than me.
Extra ball: In the near future browsers will have sharing buttons. iOS already integrates Twitter and Mountain Lion’s will do it this summer. I can only see other OS following this trend.