ShareThis, the sharing widget of choice for many bloggers, including me, released some information last week that confirms the Tell-A-Friend data we discussed last month. Email is still the sharing mechanism of choice for most web users. In fact, ShareThis’s numbers almost match those from Tell-A-Friend across the board, so we can reasonably conclude the numbers aren’t that affected by the type of tool used.

Tell-A-Friend told us their analysis showed that people shared web content in the following breakdown: Email – 59%; Instant Messenger – 25%; Social Networking – 14% (broken down to 79% of that via Facebook or 11% of the total, 15% via MySpace and just 5% via Twitter).

ShareThis offered up some different methodology but shows the following statistics on shares per channel: Email – 46%; Facebook 33%; other social channels – 15% and Twitter 6%.

Image courtesy of ShareThis

Image courtesy of ShareThis

My biggest problem with the numbers was that Twitter seems to almost be the share channel of choice these days. The numbers don’t reflect that. But many who share via Twitter are probably more tech-savvy users who don’t use ShareThis or similar buttons, thus accounting for the gap. I have no statistical evidence to back this up, just an educated guess.

What ShareThis’s information does reveal, however, is a bit more insight into what’s done with the share data from those it is shared with. These numbers are revealing in their own right:

Twitter is by far the most effective share channel, with 40% of recipients clicking on the link shared. Facebook (25%) is second. Email effectiveness is last among their four categories at 15%.

But beyond the first click, what ShareThis called how recipients engage with the content shared, Email makes a comeback. Those who do click on email-shared links view 2.95 pages after the click, on average. Facebook shares resulted in 2.76 page views per unique click. Other social network shares saw 1.59 pages per click while Twitter was again last at 1.56.

All of this analysis is still a bit of anecdotal conclusion, but it appears people on Twitter will gladly click your junk, but care less beyond looking at it. If you email someone a link, or pass it on via Facebook, the audience is more apt to read, click through to something else and so on.

As with any information sampling, I would use this information as an FYI and little more. What really makes the difference in these networks isn’t some stat gleaned from a widget. Networks are made of people, not links, gadgets or servers. Understanding your audience on Twitter and how it differs from the one on Facebook is more important than how many people click on a link shared there.

It’s also probably getting more to the reason of why they click and engage more.

Twitter users, for instance, gravitate more toward the here and now attention span. Don’t want to call them ADD, but it’s close. They’ll click, but unless there’s something pretty freakin’ persuasive on that page, they’re done.

Facebook is different, as we’ve recently chronicled by asking Facebook users what they think about Twitter. People there are much less time constrained in their use and mentality. They’ll take more time to read the content, click through to more information. They want to get to know what you’re sharing, not just making mental notes of what it is.

All this is to say that you have to use research and statistics wisely. I love the fact that Tell-A-Friend and ShareThis are sharing this kind of user data with us. It helps make us more intelligent Internet marketers and social media thinkers. But don’t let the data get in the way of understanding your audiences. With any kind of communications, nothing beats that.

You can read more about ShareThis’s research here. Tell-A-Friend’s information is available on SocialTwist’s 2009 Sharing Report blog post.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.christopherakoch.com/ Chris Koch

    Jason,

    I'd be careful about reading too much into the number of page views. Many blogs are constructed around basically one page: the list of posts. Your other choices are usually “about me” or “contact me.” As the number of blogs continues to explode (and blogs are the majority of links I see in my Twitter travels), readers are likely to get what they're looking for from going to one page.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Fair point. But it is curious that even with the mostly one page get
      on blogs, drivers from Facebook equate to more pages viewed. Not
      reading a lot into it but it certainly indicates something. Thanks for
      the input.

  • http://happyandblue2.ca Happy and Blue 2

    I think Facebook is about friendships.
    Twitter is about hoping to find some interesting snippet of information to read to fill in time..

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Certainly valid perspective, there. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/LBKinson Laura Kinson

    While Facebook and Twitter might be valid communities in the social networking realm, the internet as a whole is slowly but surely contradicting “sharing”. It may make us feel vindicated and substantial to post articles and blogs about things we find interesting, but with all of it online, it definitely brings up disputes over interpersonal communication. I thought William Deresiewicz's article “Faux Friendship” in The Chronicle detailed this nicely, check it out: http://chronicle.com/article/Faux-Friendship/49

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Interesting angle, Laura. I would argue that the only people suffering
      in the interpersonal communication realm are those that ultimately
      forget the off-line is what fulfills and sustains us. I would also
      offer that online networking serves as an enhancement and even
      facilitator for the off-line. Sure, you have to consciously approach
      it that way or you'll get sucked into staring at your computer screen
      for hours on end, but I have thousands of in-person friends and
      acquaintances today I didn't have four years ago because of online
      social networking. It's all what you make of it.

      But thanks for the perspective and the link. I'll check it out!

  • http://www.andyswan.com andyswan

    I'm not sure if they are measuring the right thing here. Who cares how many times a link is shared. I care how many times it is clicked. Sharing something via email with one friend is likely to result in 0.75 clicks…..sharing something on twitter may result in 100 clicks or more. I'm sure on facebook, it's high as well.

    In my example, the single share on twitter or facebook would be as impactful as 100 shares via email!

    For me, ShareThis is answering the wrong question. It isn't “how do people prefer to share?”, it's “how do people prefer to receive?”

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Good points, Andy. I think they start to get where you're talking
      about going with the pageviews beyond, but they don't quite get there.
      Frankly, I'm not sure what is even trackable once the person clicks,
      so they may be limited. Good perspective to consider when looking at
      the data, though.

  • http://ariherzog.com Ari Herzog

    You also need to consider where different buttons are located within ShareThis. Unless things have changed, Twitter used to be on a tertiary tab.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Good point, Ari. One that I pointed out in the previous discussion of
      Tell-A-Friend and should have mentioned here. Thanks for that.

      ShareThis provides Email, Facebook and Twitter (I believe) as top
      level defaults. Other networks are displayed in tabbed structure
      below. And I'm sure that layout has changed over time, too. Perhaps
      someone from ShareThis can talk about their layout and how that might
      effect the usage.

      Thanks for the comment.

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  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com Michael A. Stelzner

    Great post and great insight Jason!!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Michael.

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  • http://www.iwritemarketing.com CarlPhelps

    I'd be interested in seeing some insight on the value of bookmarking on sites like Delicious and StumbleUpon versus sharing on Twitter and Facebook. If people “bookmark” content might it have longer “staying power?” – Will it be more likely to be viewed over time?

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Good thoughts, Carl. Maybe there's some more specific info the
      ShareThis folks will share with us. Thanks!

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  • http://jasonkeath.com jakrose

    One key thing here Jason, ShareThis asks for you to use your login info to share on Twitter, as opposed to Oauth or just opening a new window with the text ready to go through Twitter.com.

    I would wager this decreases the Twitter use substantially. I know it always stops me in my tracks. And there is something to be said for the fact that the Twitter audience is still quite small.

    I would be most interested in conversation rates on those click throughs. While Twitter is getting better click throughs, who is getting better end results? I know, for instance, that in e-retail, email gets one of the best conversion rates. All of this is, of course, a piece of the whole. All are important to consider with a site or brand's overall strategy.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Great points, J. Perhaps someone from ShareThis can provide additional
      info or reassess how they handle Twitter. Good thoughts.

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