Promote Social Sharing, Don’t Demand It…

Sep 07

In a disturbing new online trend, I have recently noticed an increasing amount of websites begging users to like, tweet, +1 and otherwise share their pages in ways that have not been seen before online. While asking users to share content is not new in itself, it has become more invasive, and last night reached a new height that I had seen.

Thanks to users on Reddit, these two great examples where sitting at the top of my front page when I logged in;


Soccercaffe - Wait 600 seconds or likelike to see recipe directions

Bribing readers to ‘like’ content to avoid a 10 minute delay, or them having to ‘like’ a page before they can even read it, is simply not acceptable and something that no website should utilize. In fact, using buttons in this way can, in some cases, breach website terms of service

Platform Policies

IV. Application Integration Points
You must not incentivize users to use (or gate content behind the use of) Facebook social channels, or imply that an incentive is directly tied to the use of our channels.http://developers.facebook.com/policy/)

It is clear what these websites owners are thinking; if they can get people to like their content, they can appear on the news feeds of an even wider audience and grow their website exponentially. These likes and tweets can also improve SEO and search result rankings to further grow their audience beyond just those on these social networks.

However, this is incredibly short sighted for website owners. Not only do these sharing requirements annoy users (if this is under any question, check out the reddit comments here and here), but they are not supporting the core goals of the website. These barriers to entry to a page stop a user from completing the websites actual goal, such as a purchase a product or click on advertising, by requiring them to perform another action first.

Take a look the soccer example (I refuse to link to it to pass it any value), the goal of the website is to make money via advertising. By blocking user’s access to the page, the possible number of people who can click on advertising is reduced dramatically. (Unless of course they aim to spam users on Facebook once their content is liked…).

I hope website owners who implement these changes quickly discover the costs of their decisions and this trend is quickly reversed. To any other website owners thinking about doing this to improve their social networks; don’t.