Twitter has removed share counts across the board. That’s the number that tells readers of your websites how many times a link has been shared to the social site.
The Twitter share counts have been gone since Nov. 20 but reactions — mostly negative — are still filtering in. And those who are upset are using Twitter, of course, to express their frustrations. You can find many of those reactions under the hashtag: #SaveOurShareCounts
The decision means that plugins you may use on your website to display social share buttons will no longer reflect the amount of times a particular link has been shared on the social site. It also means that plugin developers who have built the Twitter share count into their product will have to scramble for a solution.
To get this kind of data, Twitter users will now have to go directly to the site — and specific Tweets — to check engagement results.
This move should come as no surprise though. Twitter announced it would be removing share counts and redesigning Follow and Tweet buttons in September.
Twitter, clearly knew this was going to cause a kerfuffle. It titled a Twitter blog post with the following: “Hard decisions for a sustainable platform.”
Michael Ducker, Twitter’s Group Project Manager, explains the reasoning behind the controversial removal of Twitter share counts on the Twitter blog, saying, “The count was built in a time where the only button on the Web was from Twitter. Today, it’s most commonly placed among a number of other share buttons, few of which have counts.”
Ducker even suggests that the number appearing in these plugins may not be entirely accurate.
He writes, “The Tweet button counts the number of Tweets that have been Tweeted with the exact URL specified in the button. This count does not reflect the impact on Twitter of conversation about your content — it doesn’t count replies, quote Tweets, variants of your URLs, nor does it reflect the fact that some people Tweeting these URLs might have many more followers than others.”
These Twitter share counts are something webmasters use to convince clients that Twitter is a valuable resource.
David Leonhardt, The Happy Guy Marketing president, said in an exclusive interview with Small Business Trends, “For my own blog, the social share count (of which Twitter is usually the highest) is a key metric I use to identify what content gets the kind of traction worthy of evergreen (ongoing) promotion.”
He added, “On client projects, the tweet count is a critical metric to show that the content I write and promote resonates with readers. Many clients trust social proof more than their own evaluation, and they like to see how well their content is doing.”
Gail Gardner, a small business marketing strategist and Founder of GrowMap Services, notes, “Personally, I believe Twitter’s decision to remove Twitter share counts is damaging to them in the long run. It is the high share counts that allow us to convince clients that Twitter is worth using and eventually advertising on. Without them, encouraging advertisers to ever test their ads is much more challenging.”
Developers of social media plugins have been left scrambling, looking to plugin developers to work their magic and ultimately solve the mess.
Gardner points out, “Developers of premium social sharing plugins are likely to provide options to recover these totals. Some, such as the Social Warfare plugin I use, already retain existing tweet numbers. I know the developers of the Warfare plugins are working on a way to count new shares going forward.”
But Twitter’s decision to remove Twitter share counts may likely raise costs for small businesses, either through a paid Twitter service or for upgrading plugins they use to display share buttons. Gardner says the increased costs are worth it. “As a serious blogger, content developer and small business consultant, I recommend paying to retain the ability to display Twitter counts,” she adds.
Some on Twitter are echoing Gardner’s feelings on paying more to display the missing count. Users are also suggesting that Twitter may be working on a plan like that of its own.
Warfare Plugins, which develops its own Twitter plugins and was adversely affected by this recent decision, goes further by pointing out Twitter’s slumping share price. That could be a motivation for dropping share counts.
Don Sturgill writes, “Off the cuff, that may not sound like an earthshaking development – but the potential ramifications are huge. It could even signal the beginning of the end for social media metrics as we know them or it may signal a giant step towards a paywall-anchored Internet.”
Twitter Share Background Illustration via Shutterstock