Showing the total number of social media shares in your share bar seems to be a growing trend these days.
I’m not sure if it started with Mashable or not, but many people often reference the tech news site when trying to describe what they want: “You know, like they do on Mashable,” they’ll say.
Social Proof – Positive and Negative
The benefits of doing this seem pretty obvious. For the most part, people probably aren’t visiting your site to do math (unless, well, you know – your site is about doing math). When they see a few shares on Twitter and a few on Facebook and maybe one or two on Google+, it doesn’t look very impressive.
But if you were to add all those numbers up, it might start to look pretty respectable.
This, of course, is the idea of social proof – the idea that people will have a more favorable view of something if they see a number of other people with a favorable view of it.
But there’s also negative social proof. If your social media buttons are flashing zeros, that says the opposite. And many people don’t want to be the first to make a share either.
And so I went looking for free plugins that could help with this.
I found three. Only one, however, (the first one – Social Share Starter) deals with the negative social proof in an in-depth way, letting you not only hide the social number if you have a zero, but letting you hide it up until the number you specify.
As I say, I only found three, but I looked through quite a lot. I was hoping to find more. So if you know of any others, let us know in the comments.
The Social Share Starter plugin applies attractive large share icons that you can choose to place above the post, below the post, or both. There is also a shortcode that you can place where you like. You can also control the maximum width of the entire share block.
It comes with options for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. You can also choose the minimum number of shares before it starts showing numbers. So, for example, if you set your minimum number to 6, but you only have 3 tweets and 2 likes for a total of 5, no numbers will appear until you get one more share.
This plugin is available on the plugin author’s website.
AddThis is a plugin that’s been around for a while now. Out of the box you have a choice of sharing a number of different default styles either before or after posts (or both). In terms of showing a cumulative number of shares, it seems all but one do this. The one that doesn’t is a very small share box that doesn’t show any numbers at all.
Except for that small share box option, all the styles with show a 0 if there are no shares.
One of AddThis’ claims to fame is that it lets you share on more than 330 different services, including email sharing. They also have a number of analytics you can see if you sign up for an account with them.
The Mashshare Share Button plugin gives you clean, flat share buttons for Facebook and Twitter. If you want other social networks, you’ll need to by an addon.
You can place this plugin above, below, or both above and below posts and pages. You can also insert it where you like with a shortcode or a piece of code for your template.
While this plugin shows a total count for shares, it also shows a large green 0 when you have no shares.
More to Come?
As mentioned, it would be nice to see more of these types of plugins. It really is a fairer way to represent the amount of social juice your post has accrued.
It would also be nice to see some in the form of scrolling/floating sidebar versions. Here’s hoping this trend picks up fast, and we have even more choices to pick from.