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Social Sharing Is About Scale Not Virality

Author's avatar By Danyl Bosomworth 08 Jun, 2011
Essential Essential topic

How big is social sharing? Very big!

ShareThis and Starcom MediaVest collaborate to release the first study on social sharing. The study focuses on ShareThis’ database of sharing activity for it's widget in March 2011 and includes a detailed analysis of more than 7 billion sharing signals across all major sharing channels, specifically looking at the sharing patterns of more than 300 million monthly users across the top 1,000 publisher websites of ShareThis. The analysis is based by the proportion of people who share via the different options on the widget.

Sharing is big, no surprise

Social sharing now produces an estimated 10 percent of all Internet traffic and 31 percent of referral traffic to sites from search and social. Search is around twice as big.

Facebook dominates as channel used to share

There are two sets of numbers here, this is because some content is shared and is never clicked on. Of the non-clicked, Facebook makes up 56 percent of total shared content (up from 45 percent in August, 2010), followed by email at 15 percent (down from 34 percent) and Twitter at 8 percent (which is interestingly down from 12 percent). In terms of clicked links and referral traffic, Facebook accounts for 38 percent email and Twitter are both second with 17 percent each.

Sharing is for scale, not virality

  • The data suggests that sharing is less viral than you may think with only 4.9 clicks per shared link. Links are less likely clicked outside of the users' immediate network so think about large groups of people
  • 80% of people only share one category of content (business, politics, entertainment etc), this suggests people are influential on limited topics that are important enough to them

It's a really interesting study given it's size and also how hugely important motivating and harnessing social sharing is crucial to modern marketing, with that in mind our advice is is simply this:

  • It's not about the tools - though tools like ShareThis, AddThis and the big enterprise software Gigya are all extremely important for success, so make sure they're contained on web pages and emails and then focus on content
  • The content has to be great - there is no such thing as a "great viral", viral is the effect of brilliant content - entertaining, valuable, insightful or newsworthy
  • Solve problems - buyers (B2C and B2B) are doing more research than ever online - recognise their needs over your need to 'go viral', help them make decisions relating to your product
  • Entertain - we all enjoy a laugh now and then, think about inspiring, educating and entertaining where you can
Author's avatar

By Danyl Bosomworth

Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.

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