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Sharing is a foundational part of the social media process. Here’s an interesting perspective on the topic of sharing on the internet…

“The parts of the report that caught my eye included the following:

  • People still share via email and instant messenger more than via social networks. An astounding 59% of all shares on the widget were done via email, 25% via instant messenger and just 14% were passed along on networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Twitter, which has recently emerged as the share site du jour for those in the social media world, accounts for only one percent of all shares. Facebook is 11%. Yahoo mail is the highest individual share channel at 26%.
  • Yahoo (44%) and MSN (25%) mail are way ahead of Gmail (19%) as the email provider used by Tell-A-Friend users.
  • Facebook accounts for 79% of all shares via social networks. MySpace is second at 15%. Twitter is just 5% of all social network shares via the widget.

While I do think there is a separation between what I would call hyper-tech users (those who owe their soul to Google, defer to other bookmarklets and other methods rather than clicking on the share widgets provided) and the average Joe or Jane, the statistics are significant. They show us how wide of a gap there is between those two crowds. When we as Internet marketers are making recommendations and building functionality for the mainstream, we have to remember that WE are not the mainstream.

Another insight I get out of this data is that one-to-one communications – email and instant messenger – are still enormously powerful. Most people either don’t realize they can share with more folks via social networks or are not comfortable doing so. It might just be that sharing the information with one or two people is the methodology of choice for the rest of the world. That can change how we approach social media strategies for some products and services. Design programs and products that inspire more one-to-one pass alongs rather than “LOOK WHAT I FOUND!” messages on social networks.

To gather some comparative data, I asked Tell-A-Friend competitor ShareThis if they minded sharing some cursory data. For the month of October, their users also shared more via email (46.4%). Twitter was higher than Tell-A-Friend’s results, but also surprisingly low (5.82% of all shares). Facebook accounted for 33.32% of all share paths for ShareThis in October, higher than Tell-A-Friend. If you’re wondering about ShareThis’s IM numbers, they don’t offer instant messenger clients as share options, sans AOL Instant Messenger, which is buried on the third tab of their full icon set option.” New Study Reveals How People Share Online | Social Media Explorer

How do YOU share? For me the most important tool in my toolkit is Shareaholic! I’m pretty sure it’s available for all major browsers at this point…

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