Re-Thinking Traditional Social Media Share Buttons

Re-Thinking Traditional Social Media Share Buttons

By now I'm sure you're familiar with the traditional set of social media sharing buttons. Here on the Shopify Blog we use Twitter, Facebook, inShare, and Google + buttons. StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit are pretty popular as well but we haven't started using them yet. There's an even newer breed of buttons quickly gaining traction and a Montreal based startup, Willet Inc, is thinking critically about the next generation of ecommerce social media sharing buttons. 

Re-Thinking Traditional Social Media Share Buttons
Traditional share buttons were primarily made for content providers - newspapers, magazines and blogs. They weren't created with ecommerce shoppers in mind. Fraser Harris, co-founder of Willet Inc, says "Your customers want to share aspirations, opinions, and questions about your products. You need sharing tools to reflect these motivations and, in the process, deliver to your store inexpensive, pre-qualified, positively biased friends." I asked Fraser some questions about social media buttons and here are his responses: 

Can you leverage your customers’ social networks?
"Each one of us wants our customers to bring their friends to our store. It’s the holy grail of acquiring new customers: inexpensive, pre-qualified, and positively biased. By all appearances, social networks have made this easier than ever, but the new customers never seem to materialize in droves."

"The average Facebook user spends over 15 hours on Facebook a month. To put that in perspective, it's about ¼ of their time online. But social networks are rarely a source of traffic for retailers. Research shows that only 1 in 200 visitors to an ecommerce site originate from a social network.  Even worse, social traffic converts less than search traffic."

But what about traditional sharing buttons?
"An early solution was for merchants to add sharing buttons to every product page.  This hasn’t worked out as promised by social networks. While your products are very valuable and useful to your customers, they aren’t necessarily shareable. Sharing is about bringing value to or getting value from, your social network: entertainment, meaningful causes, or self-expression. Angry Birds plush toys are hilarious and shareable, but most products sold online aren’t."

So what's the solution?
"The next wave of social innovation is about collecting, and this time your products will be the focus! Your customers will add your products to collections if they are stylish, fashionable, interesting or aesthetic. Collections are very social, and can generate significant traffic to your store! The most popular collection sites are:

Pinterest - Organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use Pinterest’s virtual pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Tumblr  - A blogging service that has become the focal point of fashion on the web. Users obsessively post small updates like photos or quotes, follow each others fashion finds, and comment and repost other peoples discoveries.

Svpply  - A growing community of people discovering the products they love. Use Svpply to keep track of the things you want to buy, or browse a personal feed of products from across the web, curated and filtered by the people and stores you find interesting.
What is Willet Inc working on?
We are trying something new at Willet! We’ve realized that Shopify stores are using borrowed sharing tools (Tweet, Facebook..etc..)  We feel you need more appropriate sharing tools, so we're currently testing a free app called ShopConnection! The App will allow you to install Pinterest, Tumblr, and Svpply buttons quickly and easily on your Shopify store. Right now it's in Beta, but watch out for our pending launch in the Shopify App Store. For info on our Beta program go here."


  • Cam
    March 09 2014, 06:56PM

    I think one of the aspects that needs rethinking is how you embed these icons in your site. It’s becoming increasingly important to have sites load up super fast, which Shopify CDN does really well. To have that slowed by external http requests is less than satisfactory. I wrote a blog article about this, and how you can easily add sharing links (or buttons) with some neat liquid code:

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