On November 20 Twitter announced that they officially eliminated share counts on webpages. This essentially means that the little ticker/ counter you see next to Twitter shares will disappear, which means we won’t be able to see how many tweets a certain webpage earned. As you might image, this has left a lot of publishers questioning what this means and why it’s significant for the social network in the first place.
Many businesses utilized the counter to see how successful a page was on social media. While other social networks still use the counter on their social shares, Twitter can oftentimes give even more insights because they have such a large audience. Analytics are also still an option to understand social shares; the counter was just a quicker way to keep tabs. So, why the change, and what are publishers saying?
A Little Bit More about Twitter’s New Design and Why They Removed the Counter
So eliminating the share counter wasn’t actually the only thing that Twitter changed. Twitter also changed the color scheme to a blue background and white text, which is opposite of what it was before. The Twitter buttons have not gotten a refresh since 2011, so a new design was bound to happen. Below is a screenshot of before and after from the announcement:
While the “endpoint” counter is gone, as you can see the Twitter followers count remained. They did say that you can still find the endpoint numbers by using the Twitter REST API, which you can learn more about here. This will take a little bit of work and knowledge on development, however, so it’s hard to argue that this is in any way the same as the counter.
As far as why they made the change, the said that they want to “design for longevity in order to limit any questions about deprecating APIs. A few other reasons they added include:
- When the button was built, Twitter was the only button on the web. Now there are many other share buttons placed alongside Twitter, and many of them don’t have a counter.
- The tweet button counts the number of tweets that occurred with the exact URL specified in the button. This means that it doesn’t reflect conversations about your content on Twitter, count replies, quote Tweets, variants of your URL, or the fact that some who tweet have more followers than others.
- The “count API” was never a part of their public API endpoints, which means it was only ever intended to be used by Twitter’s own web widgets.
- The count feature was one of the last features running on a database called Cassandra, whereas the rest of Twitter has moved on the database Manhattan. Continuing with the feature would mean rebuilding.
So there you have it. When you break it down, Twitter does offer some valid reasons for questioning whether or not they should keep the counter. Unfortunately, many publishers disagree with the decision.
3 Reasons Publishers Don’t Like the New Counter-less Twitter Design
We can’t speak for all publishers, but the buzz in the online marketing industry says that this wasn’t a popular decision amongst both publishers and writers. Regardless if you write for a small business or a blog, below are three reasons this wasn’t the greatest of news:
It gives all content a fair, yet sometimes undeserved, playing field.
At first this may sound like a good thing, but for publishers it actually has an opposite affect. When users would visit a page, an article with a high number of tweets tells readers that that is a good article and therefore worth some attention. In a way, this was a motivator for writers and for publishers. You wanted to write great content so that people would share it, your Twitter count number would go up, and more people would stick around and read your article.
Without the counter, every article looks the same in terms of quality to readers who are just browsing. You could write a slam-dunk article, but you won’t have the Twitter counter to help you show it off. It used to give more information to readers, so now it’s all up to you. Talk about the growing importance of headlines and title tags!
For many businesses, it seems fewer tweets are inevitable.
This was an idea Jonathan Long, founder and CEO of Market Domination Media, wrote about here and he called it the “cool effect.” In other words, people are motivated to share certain posts in order to see that number go up. If a post has thousands of shares, a reader will want to be a part of that. If there is less sharing then this means there will be less overall tweets, which means Twitter usage will slip.
It takes longer to evaluate the share-ability of your posts.
As discussed above, it’s really just more annoying for publishers than anything. You used to be able to cash in on that excitement, too, when a post was trending and doing well. Now, you have to go into your Analytics to see if you can figure out which posts are the most popular, and it takes longer (and again, it’s not as much fun). In order to keep the momentum going on a popular post, you have to know it’s popular so you can keep sharing it on social media. This means you’ll have to check your Analytics several times per day instead of your quick scan.
What do you think of Twitter’s decision to eliminate the counter? Are there any reasons you would add to the list above? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.