By: Joshua Benton | Nieman Journalism Lab
A year and a half ago, I wrote an article trying to gather some data on a simple question: Are all those Tweet Buttons you see pockmarking the web really useful? Are they unimportant clutter slowing page loads and uglying up your design — or are they an important tool for getting your content to spread?
A piece by the designer Oliver Reichenstein had made the useless-clutter argument; Upworthy’s Luigi Montanez argued they were more effective than some thought and wrote a script that let you check how many of recent tweets to a given site were generated by a Tweet Button. I used that script to check on a few dozen news organizations of various kinds. The result was that, for most news sites, somewhere around 1 in 5 tweets linking to their stories came from one of those buttons. Not a majority, but also not zero.