The use of social icons on websites

almost 6 years ago from , Designer; UX Specialist

I’ve been settling on the opinion lately that most uses of social icons are pointlessly building FB/twitter, etc. brand awareness if all people do is show the icon and/or a url with it.

Lacking, in most cases, is the WHY visitors should check out your social channels; the call to action.

The idea here is that NO-ONE will ever click on them if they don’t know what they’re clicking on… am I sharing? Will it take me there? (most common) Why should I bother?

We need to be explicit, or not use them at all, because ineffective icons are simply visual noise.

2 good uses I've seen recently:

  • make a statement that we are on X platform (see the <3 Insta below)
  • why you should follow us somewhere… ie. for the latest, for cool stuff, behind the scenes

<3 Insta


I believe we should get in the habit of using social icons in this way, wherever we choose to use them.

Am I overreacting here? Resounding meh? Would love to hear your thoughts.


  • Tony GinesTony Gines, almost 6 years ago

    I think the main point you're making here is 'context'. If the icons are included at the top of an article, next to a title, it is implied that the user can share the article. If they are in a footer next to an address or phone number, the implication is that these are your social profiles.

    I think the answers lie in analytics on a per-site/app basis. Obvious thing: Test your users and see what they're clicking on. If the value isn't there, then scrap it. Less obvious thing: figure out if there is any inherit value in including your social profiles or ability for users to share content. If that is 5% of your site's business model, you probably don't need it. If you're trying to be like BuzzFeed, then sharing should be your priority.

    TL;DR ... depends on the site :D

    4 points
  • Sven LoskillSven Loskill, almost 6 years ago


    3 points
  • evan kosowski, almost 6 years ago

    clients like em, thats about it

    1 point
  • Jordan RomanoffJordan Romanoff, almost 6 years ago

    I think social buttons should be thought about similarly to how people think about email signups. People get much more direct with CTAs and visually creative with those than they do with social and yet the two serve very similar purposes.

    1 point