It’s been a few weeks since Twitter quietly announced they were removing share counts. I didn’t think much of it at the time because, quite frankly, I didn’t believe they would really go through with it and certainly didn’t want to add to the noise. However, it’s time to accept that our famous 140-character micro-blogging website is seriously removing share counts from our beloved buttons. Yup, that’s straight from the horse’s mouth, and our friends over at Social Media Today!
As you can see in the image above, the design refresh involves the removal of the share counter button which is displayed alongside the Tweet button. Technically, it will be devoid of the count and counturl display parameters.
[nnr_quotables text=”Twitter says: We are simplifying the Tweet button by removing the share counter displayed alongside the button.” platform=”twitter” layout=”indented” style=”color” button_text=”Tweet This”]
What Does This Mean for Bloggers?
Bloggers and website owners will be unable to see the number of Twitter shares they received. That sounds quite important to me!
While this is not earth-shattering or bound to destroy social media, it has serious consequences for website owners, bloggers, social media strategists and marketers who rely on such metrics.
Here are some possible implications and affected parties:
- Most websites have social media widgets displaying the number of shares a page or an article has received. The Twitter shares will no longer be displayed and it could lead to readers believing your blog posts aren’t share-worthy. After all, those vanity numbers do nudge readers to share more often.
- For marketers and social media strategists, you won’t be able to show-off the number of shares you’ve generated on Twitter.
- Lower website traffic and fewer interactions. Given that people are less likely to share your content on Twitter, you will have to make do with fewer shares, impressions, and retweets.
- While it won’t immediately be evident, but I’m willing to bet some folks may even remove Twitter from their floating sidebars or social counter plugins such as Social Warfare. The image below gives you an idea of what they think about this bold move.
In short, it will complicate things for everybody.
Impact to Tools, Plugins and Widgets
Here’s a screenshot of the popular floating social bars where you’ll notice the Twitter share count is displayed (for now). After Nov 20th, the count will be removed once Twitter goes forward with the update, which almost renders their position on that bar useless.
Tools such as SharedCount heavily rely on the share count button. Third party developers, including Wayfare who create social plugins, have been using JSON endpoints to retrieve the share count. Since these will be shut down next month, they have no way of providing sharing-related stats for Twitter.
While this won’t put them out of business, it’ll put a glaring hole in their analytics. For example, SharedCount will lose the ability to provide data from 1 out of the 6 (that’s 16.66%) social networks to its paying users. Considering what they do – count shares – that’s quite significant. Here is what they had to say about the shutdown:
Unless another viable option arises, it seems likely that SharedCount will stop serving Twitter data when this endpoint shuts down
Ouch! And yes, that’s is a shared pain by most of the share count dependent SaaS players out there.
Are There Any Alternatives?
There are not any great reasons as to why Twitter is making this move other than what they stated in their blog post. However, some observers are insinuating that this will serve as an entryway for people to enter Gnip which is owned by Twitter. It provides provides Twitter data for the last 30 days, albeit at a steep price.
Gnip is Twitter’s enterprise API platform that enables businesses to unleash the power of social data.
Gnip is clearly reserved for large enterprises and therefore small businesses and startups will not be privy to their services. Is it fair to assume that Twitter is making this move to monetize analytics and promote Gnip?
Alternatively, techies can use Twitter’s REST API’s search endpoints, but it’s inconvenient and may not provide accurate data.
Overall, nobody – including developers and marketers – is praising this move by Twitter. Though the chances of the social network stopping themselves from implementing this are bleak now that they’ve publicly announced an end date. Though, since we’re already on a pessimistic tone regarding Twitter, let’s not forget the drop in Twitter’s stock price lately. It’s almost as if Twitter is sabotaging itself.
What do you think? Are we being a bit too harsh on this lil’ birdie? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.