Does anyone ever 'share this'?

On a couple of design jobs lately, clients have been very eager to have ‘sharing’ buttons on their pages. You know the sort of thing… one-click functions to submit a page to the reader’s Delicious, digg or Facebook friends. I get the feeling it’s purely because they’ve seen it on other sites, and think they should have it too.
Except, in my experience, they’re very rarely used… and I mean rarely. Let’s look at one site: the BBC blogs, rated the number one ‘British blog’ (singular?) by Hitwise. Roughly half the BBC’s blogs have links to share content on – rated the UK’s #11 online news source, also by Hitwise – as well as Delicious, Newsvine, NowPublic and Reddit (but not StumbleUpon?). These were first introduced nearly a year ago, surely plenty of time for people to have become aware of them. Even better, many of the Beeb’s blogs are relatively geeky in content, so should appeal to the more tech-literate Digger.
So let’s visit Digg, and search for all the instances of people ‘digging’ a page on The results:

  • a total of 16 articles were shared in the last 28 days
  • and half of them were only ‘dugg’ by one single person.
  • Half of the 60-odd digs in the last month were to a single posting, on the technology blog – which doesn’t even have sharing buttons on it.

Don't worry, it's just a lame jokeThat said, it isn’t exactly difficult (in most cases) to add these buttons: at code level, it’s usually just a case of tacking the ‘permalink’ on the end of a base URL. And I guess it makes the point that you’re ‘down with this sort of thing’.
But if you think it’s going to drive huge amounts of traffic your way, think again. And if it’s any kind of effort to get your IT people to add them in… pick a different battle, I’d say.