Yesterday, TechCrunch posted some numbers showing that Facebook drives 44% of social sharing. Which is great, except that the cutesy pie chart does not include email as one of the forms that social sharing takes. And I think email is still pretty key, so I went looking for some numbers to test that assumption. Here’s what I found.
Data from ShareThis
Back in December, the makers of the ShareThis sharing widget reported on data gathered from their network in October 2009. Guess what? They found that email is still the most common method that people use to share online content. According to the data, when it comes to how folks share, email outdoes Facebook and crushes Twitter.
This is the second time I am aware of that ShareThis has published data on how people utilize their widget. Back in August of 2008, they reported similar results:
So if you compare the August 2008 numbers with those from October 2009, it would appear that email has actually increased in popularity as a sharing method, from 35% of shares to over 46%. Worth noting also is that during this span, Facebook rocketed up the charts, going from 10% to 33%.
Leaderboard from AddThis
Now I figure that the popularity of various sharing methods will vary from one provider to another, since each of these networks is finding different niches and markets, so I went looking for evidence from the makers what is probably the most common sharing widget, AddThis. Couldn’t find a post about their data, but it looks like AddThis maintains an evergreen leaderboard.
Here the results are somewhat different — while email is one of the top sharing methods for AddThis, it isn’t #1. Facebook takes top spot with a third of all shares (interestingly very similar to the numbers from ShareThis, incidentally), while email is a distant second place with 13% usage.
However, I noticed that AddThis maintains several separate email service options, such as both an Email overlay and a relatively new Email App (which kicks you over to your email client). Further, there’s also separate listings for the main webmail services – Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail. If these are not lumped together in the AddThis leaderboard, then we’re not really getting a true sense of where email falls in the top ten. If anyone can confirm one way or another, let me know in the comments.
So Is Email Still King?
If the data from ShareThis is taken at face value, then yes, email is still the king of sharing online. However, social media (Facebook especially) has taken its place alongside email as a significant driver for sharing content. So for now, it looks like both email and other forms of social media are important to consider when looking at how people share online. How long with this last? It’ll be interesting to see more numbers in a few months.