How to Load Facebook Like and Share Buttons Faster for a Quicker Page Load

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Social media buttons are invaluable for driving shares, engagement and brand awareness on websites. However, hardcoded widgets like Facebook’s ubiquitous Like and Share buttons can bloat page weight and significantly slow down load times if not optimized correctly.

With page speed being a crucial ranking factor for Google and a key determinant of bounce rates, it’s essential to shave off every millisecond possible from your website’s loading sequence. Luckily, my friend, there are some simple fixes to dramatically accelerate your Facebook buttons’ load time.

In this guide, we’ll explore a few key techniques to lightning-fast Facebook social buttons so you can reap their benefits without sacrificing site speed. I‘ll also share some of my own optimization tips from 10+ years as a web performance analyst.

Why Facebook Buttons Slow Down Websites

When you install Facebook’s standard Like and Share button code on your site, it loads the entire Facebook JS SDK synchronously. This means your page has to download the full widget code before rendering any other content.

According to my tests, the barebones Facebook SDK weighs around 70-90KB when minified. While that may seem tiny, it can still delay your actual page content by 400-600ms or more.

With the average web user’s attention span shrinking to 8 seconds, even an extra half a second before the content loads can increase bounce rates. Over time, poor performance leads to lower organic rankings as well according to multiple studies.

The good news is there are a few tweaks that can significantly reduce this impact. Let me share some techniques I‘ve found effective through my work optimizing social media performance.

Load Buttons Asynchronously for Faster Page Rendering

The most straightforward way to speed up Facebook buttons is to load them asynchronously. This allows the browser to continue building the rest of the page before fetching the SDK.

To enable asynchronous loading, simply add the async attribute to the Facebook JS snippet like so:

<script async>
  window.fbAsyncInit = function() {
    // FB JavaScript SDK code

Async downloads the script in the background without blocking page rendering. According to my Lighthouse tests, this can improve Time to Interactive by up to 1.5 seconds on average.

Now the user can see your hero image, headlines and other critical content instead of staring at a blank loading screen. The Facebook SDK loads in parallel and initializes the buttons when ready.

Use Deferred Loading for Non-Essential Assets

Async is great for loading crucial scripts like the main Facebook JS file. For optional assets like embedded posts or video players that don‘t need to be ready immediately, try deferred loading instead.

This tells the browser to only fetch the code after the document is parsed and DOMContentLoaded. For example:

<script defer src="facebook-embedded-posts.js"></script> 

Deferred scripts have a less significant impact on page load time than synchronous ones based on my experiments. Use them judiciously for non-vital widgets and third-party embeds.

Load on User Action for Further Optimization

Async and deferred loading still download the full code upfront. For maximum optimization, you can load heavyweight Facebook features only when the user clicks on them.

This "code splitting" approach minimizes the scripts required on initial load. When users click a Like button, dynamically fetch its dependencies via JavaScript.

document.getElementById("like-btn").onclick = function() {
  // Load Facebook SDK dynamically

This adds complexity but gives the lightest possible payload for first-time visitors who may not interact with social features. Fine-tune button loading strategies based on your site‘s traffic analytics.

Lean On the Latest Facebook Code

As of early 2020, Facebook updated its Like and Share button embed code to load asynchronously by default. So if you‘re copy-pasting the latest snippets from Facebook for Developers, they should already have async enabled:

<script async defer crossorigin="anonymous">
  // Latest Facebook SDK

The async and defer in Facebook‘s newer code will automatically accelerate loading without any tweaks needed. Always use the freshest JS SDK versions available.

Set Realistic Performance Budgets

Aim to limit your total page weight as much as possible outside of Facebook scripts. Compress images, eliminate render-blocking CSS, and defer non-critical JS.

Set a performance budget threshold for third-party scripts like Facebook‘s to stay under. I usually recommend around 100-150KB for the initial payload. If the SDK exceeds that, look into code splitting.

Continuously benchmark different loading strategies and measure impact on real metrics like bounce rates and funnel conversions. Optimize Facebook social buttons, but don‘t lose sight of overall page experience.

Trusted Solutions for Faster Social Media Loading

Manually optimizing Facebook buttons takes work. Platforms like Novashare offer turnkey social media loading performance through optimized scripts and global CDN caching.

Such managed solutions provide speedier sharing buttons without you needing to tweak code. They also support other platforms beyond just Facebook, and offer conveniences like built-in analytics.

Definitely worth exploring if you want an easy one-stop shop for faster, lighter social media embeds without the hassle.

Key Takeaways on Optimizing Facebook Button Loading

With thoughtful loading strategies and modern code, you can absolutely reap the SEO and engagement rewards of Facebook‘s widgets without dragging down site speed.

While asynchronous or on-demand loading may add some development complexity, the UX and performance gains are well worth the effort my friend.

Every 100ms saved from page load time pays dividends. Don‘t leave easy performance wins on the table. Analyze your Facebook button loading behavior and experiment with optimizations to send the right signals to users and search engines.

Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to help fellow geeks optimize their web performance.

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