I’m a man. I’m 30 (not be confused with this guy). And, like many of the guys and gals reading this post, my idea of what’s sexy has changed over the years.
The first girl I ever remember thinking was sexy was Soliel Moon Frye when she made her iconic guest appearance in The Wonder Years. Every American guy between the ages of 28 and 32 remembers this moment. I guarantee it.
As I grew a bit older, wishing my first name was Zack, Kelly Kapowski of Saved By The Bell was the essence of sexy. Then it was Jennifer Love Hewitt and Shakira …
But at some point it all changed, what I had once thought was sexy, no longer turned my head.
- Celebrities who once seemed like the pinnacles of beauty and attractiveness became nothing more than two-dimensional apparitions I’d never met.
- Commonly agreed upon physical manifestations of female sexiness became far less meaningful than character-driven traits like confidence and charm.
- My desire to see an air-brushed complexion became permanently trumped by the allure of a natural woman smiling in her natural state.
As a blogger, my idea of what makes social sharing buttons sexy has changed in much the same way.
Can Social Sharing Buttons Even Be Sexy?
Of course, in this sense I am referring to the second definition of sexy, via Merrian-Webster:
- sexually suggestive or stimulating : erotic
- generally attractive or interesting : appealing <a sexy stock>
And the answer is yes, social sharing buttons can be generally attractive or interesting.
In fact, that is exactly what they should be: attractive and interesting.
The goal of social sharing buttons on a blog post is to encourage readers to easily share your content. To achieve this goal, social buttons need to be conspicuous, eye-catching, and as simple to use as possible.
Of course, they shouldn’t be too conspicuous or eye-catching, lest they overshadow and distract from the work they are ostensibly there to help promote.
Over the years, I’ve gone through many iterations of social sharing button strategy:
- The once-ubiquitous green share button at the bottom of a post that popped out to reveal literally hundreds of share options.
- Individually coded buttons for specific sites at the top and bottom of every post.
- Plugins galore that displayed social buttons in myriad styles and places.
The first time I ever thought about social sharing buttons on a blog as sexy is when I first stumbled upon the plugin aptly named Sexy Bookmarks by Shareaholic. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, and I installed it immediately.
But what I thought was sexy then for social sharing buttons isn’t really what I think is sexy now.
3 Factors of Sexy Social Sharing Buttons
As I mentioned above, social sharing buttons should be attractive and interesting. But that’s not all they should be to be sexy … at least not in my now-matured definition of what is “sexy.”
1. Fast Load Times
Personally, I think it’s sexy when a woman is comfortable enough with herself to not always require hours in front of the mirror before going out.
And as far as social sharing bookmarks go, quick load times are important.
Yes, every now and then Facebook or Twitter or another button will load slowly because of an issue with their servers. It happens.
But if your social buttons are set up properly — either through hard coding or a plugin — the delay should not cause a delay in the loading of your content, just a delay in the appearance of the button after the fact.
And in this case, so what? The content isn’t going to be shared until after it’s consumed anyway.
2. Discretion In Choice
There are hundreds and hundreds of social sites that you could offer to your readers as sharing options. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
When I see a website that has 10-20 different social buttons on it, or that uses one of the antiquated buttons that offers sharing on every bookmarking site known to man, my first impression is that they are either clueless or too desperate for attention.
I am a man who greatly values intelligence and confidence in a woman, and I also value this in a website.
So what social sites should you offer?
Almost everyone should have Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons on their site. They are the two largest social sharing sites in the world.
Google+ is struggling to catch up to the adoption numbers of Facebook and Twitter, but since Google has told us explicitly that they use +1 data in their search algorithm, I consider it a no-brainer choice as well.
From there, it just depends on the site.
Don’t just slap Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Pinterest, or other similar buttons on your website because you can or you think you should. Put them on your site if — and only if — you have an active plan for promoting your content on those sites.
Otherwise, you end up with a bunch of buttons with zeroes on them, which again makes you look silly and desperate.
Silly and desperate is never a sexy combination.
3. Appropriate Style
In my opinion, a sexy woman knows what looks good on her, and she wears it with grace and class. A sexy woman also knows how to dress appropriately, in terms of both form and function, for whatever an occasion may be.
If you want your social sharing buttons to be sexy, they should do the same.
And this is where I will bring SexyBookmarks back into the discussion, because to me, the default SexyBookmarks display just isn’t that sexy.
Yes, they are stylish. But I don’t personally find the style to be appropriate in terms of form or function.
I want social buttons to be as completely foolproof and obvious to use as possible. The half-reveal of the button can make it difficult for less advanced web users to identify, and the pop-up effect seems superfluous when the button could be more appropriately revealed in its entirety from the beginning.
Plus, SexyBookmarks display horizontally on a page. This leads most people, including me when I used SexyBookmarks, to want to have enough buttons so that the display spans the entire length of the page. It just looks better visually. But it also leads to choosing buttons that don’t really need to be there.
Finally, SexyBookmarks are placed either at the top or bottom of a post. If only at the top, a reader may forget they are available after they read the post. If only at the bottom, a reader may never see them if they are only skimming or get distracted. In either case, potential shares are lost. This is why a floating solution for social sharing buttons can be so beneficial.
Personally, I have taken a liking to Slick Social Share Buttons, which I just recently installed at Primility. If you ask me, its display and functionality are both stylish, simple, and appropriate … which makes it far sexier than SexyBookmarks.
(In defense of SexyBookmarks, the plugin is actively managed and monitored, does have a classic button display available, and Shareaholic provides analytics and tracking that can be useful. It’s a good plugin. And it may work well for your site. I just don’t think it’s as generally “sexy” as some others.)
So … Do Ya Think You’re Sexy?
Rod Stewart once asked us all, “Do ya think I’m sexy?”
Today, I’m asking you, “Do ya think you’re sexy?” And by that I mean your social sharing buttons, of course. Are they sexy?
As I look at the setup of our Synthesis blog at the time of writing this post, which has a few social buttons at the top, I think we could be sexier — generally more attractive and interesting.
I’ll talk with the great Rafal Tomal (Lead Designer of Copyblogger Media) about it and see what he thinks, and maybe we’ll add some sexy floating buttons to this site too. Maybe we won’t. Or perhaps we’ll add another line of buttons at the bottom of the post, as he has on his website.
Rafal has forgotten more about design than I’ll ever know, so I’ll defer to his opinion. If you are lucky enough to have a designer even 10% as good as Rafal at your disposal, talk to them about decisions like these.
There is no right way or wrong way to display social sharing buttons on every site. I can’t give you a rule that will always apply. The final answer will always depend.
The key is to choose your buttons with discretion and then find an appropriate style with minimal impact on load time. Maybe you go with the basic buttons offered by the Jetpack plugin. Maybe you do something more intricate.
Just remember that sexy — no matter the context — should be defined less by what catches the eye first and more by what holds that gaze the longest and compels the beholder into action.
Follow that rule of thumb when it comes to social sharing on your site, and you’ll always have sexy bookmarks.