Twitter share counts are a thing of the past. There are now millions of Twitter share buttons without count data, and it has pissed off a lot of people — and left many, including myself, questioning the network’s decision.
This move didn’t come out of left field — it was announced two months ago that Twitter was going to rollout a new design for tweet and follow buttons, while also removing the tweet count endpoint. It’s no secret that Twitter wants to create a more user-friendly platform that’s easier to understand — its user growth has been slow, and there are definitely Wall Street expectations that it needs to hit.
Twitter’s recent switch from “favorite” stars to heart-shaped “likes” was brilliant — I believe that move really connected with users. I have definitely seen an increase in “like” engagement on Twitter since the switch.
I love Twitter. It’s my favorite social network and the one I’m most active on. Removing share counts, though, is a move I don’t agree with. Here are three reasons why:
1. Publishers are pissed off.
Social share count is a metric that is used to immediately judge the success of content online. Bloggers and publishers love seeing these numbers — a high number of social shares signals the reader base liked the content and it also serves as social proof, triggering more sharing, which results in more people being exposed to the content.
If someone lands on a blog post and notices it has a high number of shares, subconsciously they think, “I should read this — and share it as well.” When Twitter pulled the plug on the share number, overall share counts dropped and it caused bloggers and publishers to resent the decision.
What upset some even more was the fact that Twitter announced publishers could get full-archive search counts from Gnip — its data business — for a fee. Some reports suggest that fee starts at $300 per month, but information hasn’t been released publicly. Publishers interested in this option need to contact Gnip, but let’s be honest, most publishers aren’t going to pay for that feature.
2. Several websites have already removed Twitter as a main sharing option.
Remember the social-sharing tools that websites used in the beginning? There were dozens of options to select from — it was a cluttered mess. Over time, websites have moved over to sleeker social-share tools, which usually just highlight a few options, while also providing additional ones that can be accessed with an additional click or two. You can see an example of this on my blog.
For the past few years, Facebook and Twitter were the two main options, with Google+ and LinkedIn fighting for the third and fourth spots. When Twitter removed the share counts, it instantly became the red-headed step child. Facebook will now receive prominent placement and everything else that displays the share count will become a priority over Twitter.
This little move could play a part in Twitter becoming irrelevant, which is crazy to think about, but very possible at the same time. With Twitter’s main problem being attracting new users, why in the world would its leaders do something that will potentially reduce activity on the network? I’m still scratching my head on that.
3. It could result in fewer tweets.
This one is hands-down the most obvious reason this is a bad move.
Show two identical blog posts to the same person — one without a Twitter share count and one with thousands of shares — which will they share? It’s the “cool effect” — the one with thousands of shares is naturally going to catch attention and cause the reader to join in on sharing.
Less sharing on Twitter means less tweets overall, resulting in less engagement and interest in Twitter. This could end up being a very bad move. I hope I am wrong and it doesn’t stall growth, because I love Twitter.
What do you think? Was eliminating Twitter share counts a bad move? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.