I'm working on a redesign for an e-commerce company's blog. From the competitive audit I did, most prominent blogs and e-mags have social widgets rolling alongside the actual article, or share buttons in the area around the article title.

Does anyone have access to any stats on actual user engagement with these things? I'm curious if it's even worth it to put them at the beginning of the article.

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    I personally hate those 'social' button that I use disconnect.me on every browser I use. Those widget are not here to help you but to help them follow each users even not logged everywhere they go to profile them. – Kiwy Feb 28 '14 at 10:31

Statistic varies from blog to blog. I'll state some of my past experience, but the statistics I have will not bring too much information.

Showing a widget with likes -the like of Facebook Facepile will show that are actually people interested (like) this blog/content and it will appear more alive and trustworthy in the eyes of the user.

Share buttons depends on your content, for instance if it is Fashion/Clothing related, Pinterest Pin buttons will work the best. Facebook is always good. But expect a low engagement on like or share, something in the like of 1%-10% of all visitors to the article.

Definitely put the like/share buttons at the bottom of the article or always visible. Because the user won't scroll up only to like or share... If they scroll up is to navigate away from this page.

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