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This is tangentially related to the question "Social Media Icons - show all visible, or group under 'share'?".

In my organization, we've generally found that displaying the individual icons for Facebook, Twitter, etc. leads to better sharing results on those platforms than showing an "all-in-one" share button...

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However, I've also heard the argument that having these icons visible on one's content "reminds" visitors to share on those services (and, thus, increases the overall number of "shares") even if the user doesn't actual sharing service that you've provided. Said another way, the theory goes that because the user saw the Facebook or Twitter icon, they are more likely to independently share the content.

Our (somewhat limited) testing seems to bear this out, but are there accepted research findings or A/B test reports that support this hypothesis?

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I'm also interested in whether changing the visual design of the buttons reduces the affordance, since users are probably very familiar with the exact gradient, tons, font, brightness etc of each network's respective button. As such I'm wary whena designer wants to change a button just so it fits better in the overall style. –  Rahul Aug 15 '11 at 19:57
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+1 good question, especially the call for actual research/testing (we all have a gut feeling on this one, right? :D) –  Jeroen Aug 15 '11 at 21:29
    
This is becoming an increasingly difficult UI problem to solve too for every new social site that becomes popular. Progressive disclosure doesn't meet the business requirements of making the page sharable. –  Virtuosi Media Aug 15 '11 at 22:33
    
It will be interested to know how many people don't press these buttons at all :) –  igor Aug 16 '11 at 7:24
    
You do realize more sharing doesn't mean better ux? It just means more sharing. If you have to trick the user into sharing with slick buttons, the content isn't good enough. –  Rudie Mar 2 '13 at 0:16

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Interesting question, so I've gone digging for some research on this.

This study indicates that more than one sharing button does improve CTR when included in EMail messages (although it is referring to a single specific sharing button (i.e. Twitter) rather than a generic 'Share This' button).

enter image description here

A lot of my initial searching seems to point to this one piece of research, but if I find anything else I'll update this post.

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Similar to the choice of radio buttons vs. a select menu, showing all allows users to see all options instead of guessing.

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