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I have a web application that hosts some user content, say tutorials.

I'd want to give users opportunity to share this content using social network buttons like Facebook Like/Share, Twitter, Reddit, etc.

What will be better:

  • to show 6 social network buttons on a page
  • to show one Share button that opens tooltip that contains 6 share buttons?
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3  
It mostly depends on implementation - could you attach a screenshot or wireframe of the interface? In general: there is no point hiding the share buttons unless these create clutter. –  Dominik Oslizlo Mar 22 '13 at 13:23
    
This is very similar to a question I asked a couple years ago -- there was not a clear, easy answer, but it seemed like "keep the number of networks small, and show them directly" was a reasonable approach: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/4063/… –  Michael Histen Mar 22 '13 at 20:59
    
Tricky question indeed, you can also look at this post: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/4727/… –  gotson Mar 23 '13 at 4:56

7 Answers 7

You will have more sharing if you only use the 2 or 3 most used social network sharing options.

I have seen this work time and time again. More is not better.

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4  
Lol. Two days ago you said 3 to 4. (ux.stackexchange.com/questions/36660/…) What changed your mind? –  3nafish Mar 22 '13 at 13:51
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@3nafish I said "3 or 4 at most, but only if those 3 or 4 options are actively used by your target audience". I don't see the conflict. –  JohnGB Mar 22 '13 at 14:02
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Hmmm...I suppose what I'm saying is it seems a bit arbitrary to suggest any number at all when the right number will depend on the site's audience. Maybe almost all of your site's visitors only use one social site, or maybe they're evenly distributed among five. Suggesting an exact range runs contrary to the idea of only using the most essential sharing options. (For example, saying "3 or 4 at most" is a lot different from saying "4 at most" because it implies that you shouldn't use just one or two. Bolding "2 or 3" implies that it's a magic range than shouldn't be deviated from.) –  3nafish Mar 22 '13 at 14:35
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+1 For the 2 or 3 - this is actually how stack does it as well - FB, Twitter, and Google+ –  Josh Bruce Mar 23 '13 at 1:25
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@3nafish — No, saying “3 or 4 at most” does not exclude 2. –  Nicolas Barbulesco Mar 23 '13 at 23:04

How about direct share buttons for the 2-3 most used networks, with a 'More' option bringing up a menu; I'd say the menu should include the networks with direct share buttons as well, so the user wouldn't get confused if they only spotted the menu button at the main page.

Best of both worlds: lower friction for high use networks + access to lower use networks without clutter.

Bonus: you can determine when to promote/demote networks to/from the direct cluster and/or how many direct links to provide based on click-throughs via the menu, enabling responsiveness to up-and-coming networks.

Edit: In response to Josh's comment, the direct share buttons could be the most generally popular by default, but customized in response to past use by individually identifiable users (i.e., a logged in user would get direct links to the networks they've used most often/recently, with the default direct links demoted to the menu for them).

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+1 For the combination idea. However, it might be interesting to see how it affects user response for those who use those "misc." networks. i.e., Will it engender negative feelings, what we're not good enough. –  Josh Bruce Mar 23 '13 at 1:20

I would go with the popup method. You can include as many buttons as you want without adding clutter. You can also add more information and update it separately in the future.

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There's a good article on 'too many choices', they make an excellent point near the bottom of the article:

If you have a hard time deciding which social sharing buttons to list, you should generally only list the networks you or your company most frequently monitor.

So unless you can say you're seriously active on all six of the networks, cut back drastically.

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Label the share button something like "Share on social(other) networks" and make it a checkbox selection so users can share on multiple networks in a single go. Doing this makes it a better option than showing all options individually

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If I were you, I would have a mini menu that slides on mouse 'overing' a button-ish share icon. List top 3 social n/w sites and let the last option be more.. and when user clicks mode.. the mini slide down menu becomes a bigger that mini slide down menu and lists all networking sites you cover. Obviously the menu slides back in on mouse out. HTH

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The box in which you would show buttons would certainly not be a tooltip. A tooltip is a help bubble.

I have seen a site with a whole army of 20 or so “Share” buttons, it is ridiculous.

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