What I didn't make clear enough in the follow up: Even if 20% of the tweeters used the buttons (it's actually more around 15%), how many of the total of all readers use them? 1% 2%? How much additional traffic do these bring? 1% 2%?
Social media links (not buttons) are a good service on frontpages. It is often difficult to find the official channels through search. Social media buttons are really good traffic drivers on individual blog postings circulating in a fast ecosystem. Social media buttons should be avoided on all other pages. That is my conclusions based on my own experience with both clients and self published blogs, anyway. A very good and constructive discussion. Thanks for that, Oliver.
+Oliver Reichenstein I think you've read my comments here and posts about UX-A -- User-Experience Arrogance and how apps, sites, now command your attention as if they are they center of a user's universe. What if, as you just tested, a site tried to co-exist, blend in like an ingredient in a mixed drink or recipe for a better web instead of trying to be a bold, new attention commanding flavor?
@Oliver The relaunch of the new iA site is a big social media (Twitter) event. That attracts all the new followers. I really love your new web site, but I find it a tad too minimalistic that the links to the social media destinations are totally gone. But as a "happening" it is a great "provocation" and good fun. It also references the cool nightclubs in Tokyo. The ones where there are no address, just "secret" GPS coordinates! High coolness factor, indeed!
I am reading about Köniz now. Apparently, the town itself have less than 7,000 inhabitants. But the muncipality has around 40,000 like the iA Twitter account. Interesting place. No unemployment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koniz
Well I have a good example that is some rare cases it is usefull. We did a viral action in The Netherlands. With 30,000 mailings. 3,000 of them share their landing page and almost 20.000 people clicked back.
I'm late to this discussion, but I think there's a definite argument to be made that, as the way we use the web shifts from browsing to sharing, the share button is fast becoming as functional a part of a webpage as navigational elements or hyperlinks.