Event Website & Creative Agency

13 Jun 2016

Is social sharing killing your event website?

Sam May

I’m sure at the sight of this title, many event marketers will spit their coffee at the screen in disgust.  How can this be true — social validation in the form of sharing is the marketer’s highest accolade, is it not?

So how can social sharing be killing your site? – Perhaps I need to provide some clarification…

On balance, some types of social sharing buttons could be causing you more harm than good.

The internet has long been the home of ‘something for nothing’. When it comes to free social sharing plugins, that’s no different.

The only problem is that there is a cost to these buttons. That cost just happens to be paid for in an altogether different currency.

Online, the new intangible currency is a share of your time. Understanding how and where you spend your time online is becoming more and more important to online brands. Tracking pixels and analytics code lurk behind the curtains of most sites. The user profiles built by these services are rather valuable — funding your plugin.

A good example would be ShareThis - one of the most popular sharing sites in the world. A social sharing widget which can be implemented on almost any platform, with minimal effort and zero monetary cost. There is, however, a hidden cost of time.

Inspecting the network tab on a site using Chrome’s DevTools reveals a bigger story. A widget like ShareThis calls approximately 40 domains when it loads to your site. Approximately 50% of these are tracking pixels from other sites building user profiles. Now, I’m all for using analytics to measure your user’s behaviour so you can improve your site, but when this party gets too crowded and there are too many pixels loading into a session, it slows the page down too much.

You’re sacrificing your site speed and potential conversions so other providers can build a better profile for themselves. And you are making this sacrifice for every page that includes the plugin – whether the user intends to share or not!

We now know (and have done since 2010) that Google counts page speed as a metric in its algorithm. Any delay in your page load speed has an impact how well your site performs for your users and for your event itself.

The table below of Eric Schurman and Jake Brutlag's experiment on server delays shows how adding as little as seconds to the time it takes to load a page can shave over 4% off your interaction and revenue per user!

Eric Shurman and Jake Brutlag's server delay experiment

Your free social sharing buttons might be pulling in a few shares, retweets and likes for your content, but it’s time to weigh up whether it’s worth it. Is it worth more to you to keep your social sharing plugin? Or is it more important to you to have a faster site, which performs better in search results and better for your users and better for your ROI?

Some content management systems (CMS) will have their own integrated share widgets, but it’s worth checking which ones are custom built from the ground up. ASP has tried to address this issue with the share widget (like the ones at the top of this page) included in our new SHOWOFF CMS.

Unlike many plugins, the ASP widget doesn’t contact any other servers when the page is loaded – only once a share option is selected by a user, so the load on the website is quite light and the user doesn’t experience a reduction in speed for every page they load.

As a marketer you know that you are only paying out in terms of speed, when you are about to get the return in the form of a real social share.  Much better for users and much better for your ROI.

If you’re still needing to use a third-party service, perhaps try the lightweight options from providers like AddThis, which don’t call nearly as many resources and will have less impact on your site speed (and users).

If you want to find out more about making your event website social, talk to the team at ASP

View all Blogs