Homepage Social Buttons: What Effect Do They Have?

Homepage Social Buttons: What Effect Do They Have?

Dennis van der Heijden
December 18, 2014
Social Buttons Conversion Rates

Do social media buttons have the conversion optimization effect we all think they have, or are they just website embellishments that are a must-have on your homepage? We try to clarify the matter during the Ultimate Conversion Website Review Webinar hosted by Convert and Creative Thirst. You can find the full webinar here

In this age of media availability and networking, it is almost impossible to find a marketable website without any social media buttons, either on their home page or landing pages. They are everywhere. Everyone has them. Among the most common social media platforms include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Google+

This was actually one of the pressing issues that cropped up, and being a common practice among website owners – personal or business – we diverted attention from the main topic of the day and touched briefly on it. Bobby of Creative Thirst aired his two cents on the issue, so read on to see the consensus on the effect social buttons have on your site.

Hi, What’s your Number?

Bobby seems to think including social buttons on a site’s landing page is too early in the conversation process. You could think of it as meeting someone for the very first time. Normally, you will not ask for their personal details such as their phone number, address and so on. That would be getting ahead of yourself. The natural thing would be is to first strike a conversation about who you are, what you do, and what you have in common.

[Tweet “Including social buttons on a landing page is too early in the conversation process. – @Bobbyhewitt”]

The same thing applies with websites. Trust has to be established before they are willing to say, ‘Okay, you know what, give me your phone number’ or ‘What’s your Twitter handle? I need to follow you’ that kind of thing. At the same time, you still have to make it somehow available for returning users who may not need that information the first time they visit, or the second, or third, or whatever time they come back to the site. You need to ensure it’s still easily accessible later on for this crop of users. As such, you need to treat it as a tertiary part of the site, not giving it that much prominence. It is also important to treat your visitors like people and not herd them like robots to increase your visiting numbers. It was talked about in this article by Unbounce:

People do not take kindly to being manipulated emotionally. Make sure you don’t cross that line. Conversion rate optimization does not account for how people feel. It only cares about what people do – and how your audience feels is important.

One, Two, Three and Counting…

Another thing you ought to consider is the number of users you have managed to bag thus far. If these figures are too low, the best thing to do would be to leave them out. For instance, assuming you have your Twitter and Facebook links, and you go on to include the number of Twitter or Facebook followers you have and this figure is a very low number, experience and common sense dictate that it’s best to leave them out.

This is something you can personally attest to, so going against the concept means you’ll get the same results. What these low numbers do is hurt conversion because the message they broadcast is, ‘Oh, this product or this website is not very popular, so why should I go ahead and follow/like them?’ So, unless the numbers are very large, it’s best to omit them, or alternatively, make them secondary towards the bottom of the page, where they’re not too visible.

This is an area I did a test on actually: testing the effect of a low number of Facebook likes on a website’s conversion versus a higher number. It’s not the most honorable thing to do, but all in all a great endeavor in the sense of what effect social numbers have on the success of a product or service you’re trying to market. We bought 5,000 Facebook likes from my previous company and compared this to another page that had a couple of hundred likes and tested the effect on the conversion rate. We particularly measured the bounce rate and engagement of the new site.

Social Buttons Conversion Rates

And the Verdict is…

The more the likes, the more the conversion rate. In other words, people tend to trust more likes than they do a low number of likes. Thus, if you have the numbers, go ahead and use them, otherwise leave them out.

We came to the conclusion that it’s okay to include large social numbers as this sells you even more. The time to initiate the ‘social conversation’ too is best done after the purchase. So, how the heck do you get that many a follower or likes if the social buttons are not on the homepage where everyone can easily see them and simply click on? Simple: convince the users/visitors that you’re worth the like and they will no doubt like you! If you want to learn more, you can check out the full webinar here.

Originally published December 18, 2014 - Updated April 15, 2019
Dennis van der Heijden
Co-founder and CEO of Convert.com, Dennis is a passionate community builder and out of the box thinker. He spends his time innovating to make Convert Experiences better. Learn about his journey as an entrepreneur and leader on the SaaS Club podcast.
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