Social sharing buttons and modal newsletter popups

I read a lot of posts on blogs every week. I read every post from every feed in the iOS Dev Directory and I get plenty more recommendations of articles from both automated services, and humans! 😀 It’s safe to say I’ve read a few sites over the years, so if you have a blog I’d love to give you some advice.

Your site doesn’t need social sharing buttons. You definitely don’t need a modal, full page newsletter signup that pops up when I move my mouse outside the browser window. You don’t need your cookies notice to take up half the page and cover your content. You don’t need any of the thousand other plugins or services that “they” say you do.

In fact I’d go much further than that. I’d say that every annoyance on your site is doing your content and reputation harm. Whenever I visit a site, every time I’m annoyed by something makes it less likely that I’ll consider sharing it or subscribing to your feed. Part of it is that I value my time and attention, but I also value the time and attention of my readers and I don’t like to send them to places they might also get annoyed.

Of course, your content matters most but it’s definitely a balance between how good the content is and how annoyed by your JavaScript I am. 😀

I have another, more important point to make though. I also don’t believe these things are at all effective. I’d urge you to look at how many people are actually sharing your content using the social media buttons as opposed to simply copying and pasting a link. Have you tested the difference in subscribe rates between your modal popup newsletter signup and a respectful, quiet sign up box in a sidebar? Are people clicking to close your cookies panel, or are they just closing the browser window instead?

I’ve always tried to be respectful with getting people to subscribe and share my content. Yes, the subscription form on iOS Dev Weekly is prominently positioned, but I put a huge amount of thought into not making it feel like it was ever too much. It also works! I’ve always been surprised that people share the newsletters that I write but with over 45,000 subscribers to the newsletter and many more via RSS, all grown from nothing, I’m proof that you don’t need these things.

Alright, I’m going to stop there and apologise for the rant that this was before I get started with my thoughts on “growth hacking”. 🤮

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to smash that subscribe button. 😂