Social sharing icons

12 Jul 2008 - 1:55am
6 years ago
2 replies
298 reads
Matthew Zuckman

I can't personally speak to any research that shows usage rates of
specific links, but I do believe social links can be very effective.

As more users adopt aspects of the social net into their lives,
"email this item of interest to a friend" becomes less valuable
then "broadcast this item of interest to my network." Adding
sharing links to pages/content can be an effective way of spreading
content, building contextual relevance, and increasing natural search

Segmentation and other user research should give you an idea which
networks your users may have adopted, giving you a rationale by which
to prioritize. There are also services like AddThis (
that aggregate the many popular sharing tools into one button that
avoids a lot of clutter. As an added benefit, they include analytics
so that you can get some real usage data back.

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12 Jul 2008 - 9:13am

Hi there Amy,

There is an initiative to merge these icons into a single standard
icon (like RSS and OPML) that acts as a single display point for a
bunch of bookmarking providers, that essentially provide the same
functional benefit.

View this link for more info:

How this differs from the OPML ( and RSS
( initiative is the different platforms
that the initiative is trying to merge into one, whereas, generally
speaking RSS for example is one open standard (I mean... there are
different versions but its pretty ubiquitous)

I think this kind of thing will become a trend with a lot of
technologies in the near future, and you'll have these strange
little 20x20 coloured icons everywhere, but in proper context
(hopefully). (I'm just trying to think of one off the top of my
head... Maybe there should be one pertaining to contacts for example)

The way I stumbled upon this is I was trying to find a good iconic
image for the function of "SHARING" (a file, a resource, a view
etc. with a group of people) for an application I am designing the
interaction and interface for, and I didn't want to use a HAND!!
Really, really not an easy thing to represent without using a hand
I've found... without sacrificing the meaningfulness.

In fact, I think the iconic image for this share icon (the 3 nodes)
is quite dumb and not specific... I guess neither is the circle for
the OPML or the radio waves for the RSS icon either. However, the RSS
icon and the OPML icon I can get for their context. The share icon...
I'm not so sure. Maybe that's just me.

Anyway... It could be a challenging exercise to find a good standard
icon for "sharing" that is a little more specific, and not a

But this green 3 node thing is only okay for what it does I think.

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14 Jul 2008 - 1:28am
Sachin Ghodke

Hello Amy,

I think you are right that they have started to appear on practically
every site these days. But does it make sense? I think what is
important here is to map or put the relevant icons on the types of
sites that are existing. By this I mean, for example: on networking
sites only networking icons should be displayed, and so on. And more
over too many clicks to get there.

However, at times I feel they are quite a distraction and they always
discourage me to visit them. The reason I am discouraged is because I
know that I need to go through the process of registering on the site
and all that stuff. A smiple waste of time if that site is not related
to my interests.

These icons are probably another way to market website. These act as
"icon advertisements" as I would say (see, banner advertisements).
They are a good business tool but only if marketed well and as per my
thoughts in the first paragraph.

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