The next social network to drop support for share counts on its platform is LinkedIn. And it seems only a handful of people have noticed yet.
We noticed, obviously. But that’s because we have a vested interest in the world of social share counts.
We also have some great friends like Steve from Buzzsumo who also keep a thumb on the pulse of such social network changes as this.
Steve was the first one to mention it to me in an email back in January. His team noticed that they stopped receiving data from the API and began asking around if others were experiencing this as well.
We first thought it was some sort of glitch, hoping the development team was just upgrading the system.
We were wrong.
As of February 15, 2018, we confirmed that share count support was fully dropped.
Despite much outcry from both the developer and content creator community, nothing seems to have deterred or reversed these social network decisions.
And like Google+, LinkedIn doesn’t have an API-friendly platform that would allow third-parties to scrape or search for information such as shared content.
Unlike Twitter, whose public search API made it possible for places like Open Share Count to create a way to remedy the dropped support.
As of now, it doesn’t look like there will be any feasible way of working around this.
LinkedIn has officially killed share counts for its platform, and all the LinkedIn share buttons across the internet.
The good news is that if you’ve been using Social Warfare – Pro, your previous share counts are safely stored in your WordPress database. The counts on the LinkedIn buttons on your previous articles will never disappear unless something happens to your database.
Why are all the social networks killing share counts?
This is a question myself, and many others have been asking. Those of us who understand the power of social proof know that it can be a valuable piece of information for blog posts and web pages.
Studies have shown that seeing share counts on share buttons can:
- Positively affect the perceived authority of a page
- Influence more even more shares
- Increase the level of trust in a website or brand
Although these can be easily gamed or faked, it still stands that they can be seen as positive and influential factors.
And for a social network, having their share button prominent with share counts might also help the network out by:
- Raising awareness of the social network
- Showing that people are actively participating in that network
- Remind someone who hasn’t visited the network for a while to revisit it
So why exactly would any network choose to forgo those perks?
Well, if we took their word, they have offered the following reasons:
- It’s too expensive to update/maintain the technology to keep counting shares
- Current staffing resources need to be allocated elsewhere
- The technology isn’t very accurate to begin with, so it’s not worth keeping around
- People don’t really care about it for the most part
Now, pretty much all of these excuses we’ve heard from companies are BS. While there may be some truth to not having enough resources to maintain them, I think the real reason behind the decision is deeper… and less noble.
Two weeks ago I was speaking at Social Media Marketing World, and as always I found some time to catch up with my friend Syed Balkhi (founder of one of our favorite WordPress plugins, Optin Monster) about the issue. He offered his perspective on why social networks were doing this.
And it was his perspective that really made it click for me.
Think about how these share counts started. The first social share buttons on the internet were created by the social networks themselves. You had to copy their code and paste it into your website.
This gave them full control of what data they gathered from your site. They could then leverage this data for advertisers, partners, or any number of internal analysis.
Well, at that point having those share buttons and maintaining the share count data was a worthwhile expense for the networks, wasn’t it?
But then what happened?
People started loading all these different scripts from different networks onto their websites and realized that it was:
- Destroying their page load times (loading way too many scripts)
- The buttons didn’t look good together because they weren’t designed to complement other network share buttons
- The buttons didn’t work 100% as they wanted them to
So along came the developers like us here at Warfare Plugins creating a solution for all the adverse effects of these share buttons.
Social Warfare is the fastest, most powerful sharing plugin available for WordPress. Give it a try today!
What did that mean for the networks?
They no longer got to siphon boatloads of data from your website to their data centers.
And if they don’t get that data, it’s no longer worth it to them to maintain these social share count APIs, giving you the social proof you want.
Hey, we can’t blame them too much—they are businesses after all. They have to make decisions every day to keep their revenue growing so they can keep the lights on, and data centers running.
It doesn’t mean we have to like it though.
Your Thoughts on LinkedIn Share Counts
We’d love to hear your thoughts about LinkedIn removing support for share counts.
Are you outraged? Will you miss them? Does it even matter at all?
Will more social networks continue to join the “no share counts” bandwagon? If so, which one will be next?
Let us know how you feel about this in the comments below!
And also, be sure to share this out to all your networks (yes, even LinkedIn) because, apparently, not many people know about this yet.