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There are millions of social networks out there. Of the top popular ones, like Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.,

Q: How many, in numbers, should be put up at all?

UPDATE: Organization website; I'm talking about click buttons, graphics.

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This doesn't look like a constructive question to me. You'll either get lists of the current popular social networking sites (which isn't a good fit for a Q&A site because it will gradually go out of date meaning that the top answers will no longer be relevant) or else you'll get a bunch of answers suggesting that you just need to test for your site. Is there a particular aspect of the number of social buttons you're interested in? –  3nafish Mar 19 '13 at 19:43
    
It would also be helpful to mention what your website is for and who your audience is if possible. The question itself is very vague and 3nafish is correct with the type of answers you will receive. –  Chris N. Mar 19 '13 at 19:45
    
What do you mean by 'Social Buttons'? There are two types of social media buttons - there is the 'come visit out Facebook / Twitter / Instagram' type button, and there is the 'Please share this article on LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter' type. Which are you referring to? –  JonW Mar 19 '13 at 20:20
    
From a UX perspective? I'd say zero. Why clutter your page? –  DA01 Mar 22 '13 at 6:26
    
You're asking a question that is related to the field of content-strategy, not UX. –  nimrod Mar 22 '13 at 10:24
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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This is entirely dependent on your target audience.

For example: A career oriented website may only need linkedin or dribbble.

Different social media platforms caters to different types of audiences. It's never a good idea to slap as many social media networks for the sake of it just being there.

You should also keep in mind that in most cases less is more. Social media requires consistent updates, which in turn means extra work. There's nothing worse than seeing a website's facebook page that hasn't been updated for years. Make sure you have enough content, time, and manpower to do this before hand.

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The answer for that changes depending on your target audience. If, for example, you are an app targeting women between the ages of 29 and 49, you would likely only need Facebook and Pinterest. However if you were focused on a tech crowd, the Google+ and Twitter would make the most sense.

In general I would recommend restricting it to 3 or 4 at most, but only if those 3 or 4 options are actively used by your target audience.

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I see what is making you ask this. There are lots of Social Share services but we can classify them in 3 major groups.

  1. Social Collaboration (Facebook, Twitter, G+)
  2. Social Bookmarking (Del.icio.us, Pintrest)
  3. Social Collections/Reading Lists (Digg, Reddit)

If you know exactly what you are looking to do, you can decide how many of these you would need. Also the audience and content matters a lot. If it was a news item, people wouldn't bookmark it and sharing it on social media might be the only logical sharing option but if it was a technical article then people from niche are likely to keep it for later.

If you are concerned that if you had to use them all then how many icons can be displayed in a list then I would say learn from Bigger Players who invest good deal of money in research and user-testing. Like BBC is using 3 Icons (taking the printing out as it is not sharing) in the list with the option to see the other from a drop down. I would recommend using something similar.

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I think your question is more: On what platforms should we be active? If you have not a sophisticated Facebook group you are updating frequently. Who would then take advantage of this button? I think a like or twitter button is just one component of a social strategy. The other component would be to be active on the platform from your side. If you cannot provide any useful content on it, I do not recommend to provide any button. I do not like pages showing me buttons I should click just to generate some reputation for the page. I want to have something provided for me exactly on this platform. You should probably think about to provide some information that is unique and cannot be found on your homepage.

To pick up your examples: - Who uses google+? - Facebook is probably the most important one - I never use the Linke... - Twitter is fast but does not often provide information of quality

I would also recommend to put it not on every page (not for static pages but for news/article pages)

You should think about your target audience and on which platforms they already have an account.

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Have a few popular buttons showing, and then an "others" button with a drop down list to click on. Code it so that as you gather statistics the buttons shown change according to what users have clicked on in the past. For logged in users you'll show their favourite sites on buttons, for other users you'll show recently popular sites on buttons.

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