In September, Twitter revealed plans to refresh the look of its social sharing buttons – the first update to the tweet and follow buttons since 2011. That change was implemented on Friday, but the update also removed a key feature of the embeddable buttons: the share counter.
Michael Ducker, a group product manager at Twitter, explained the reasoning behind the change in a blog post last October. Ducker wrote that the share number was an unreliable source of data, since it only reflected the number of times a page had been shared directly from the page itself, and did not reflect several other factors.
"It doesn’t count replies, quote tweets, variants of your URLs, nor does it reflect the fact that some people tweeting these URLs might have many more followers than others," Ducker wrote. "The count was built in a time where the only button on the web was from Twitter. Today, it’s most commonly placed among a number of other share buttons, few of which have counts."
Despite what Ducker wrote, the removal of the tweet count does make Twitter the odd one out among a number of popular sharing buttons. Share buttons from Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest still display the number of engagements that they have generated.
Publishers may have cause for concern, as displaying social proof, such as share numbers, is considered by many to be a valuable tool for publishers. And there has been some speculation that Twitter might introduce a replacement feature to drive publishers to its proprietary analytics platform. Whatever Twitter’s motivation, what is your take on the change? Vote below to let us know.