sharethis pie chart There's no question about it: social media has made sharing content, links, and information ubiquitous on the web. And thanks to a study released by ShareThis , a popular social media sharing platform, now we know just how ubiquitous.

The study, which analyzed the sharing and clicking habits of over 300 million people per month who share links using a ShareThis button on more than a million websites, revealed that sharing now generates approximately 10% percent of all internet traffic in addition to 31% of referral traffic to sites from search and social.

And of that social sharing activity, Facebook comes out on top, accounting for 38% of all sharing referral traffic. This is compared to 17% of sharing referral traffic each for Twitter and email.

In fact, Facebook actually accounts for more sharing than that. Of all the content shared on the web, 54% of it occurs on Facebook. Of course, not all of the content that gets shared gets clicked on, which explains why only 38% of it makes up actual referral traffic .

But what about clicks? When it comes to sharing, on which platform do links get clicked the most? While Facebook dominates in terms of overall sharing and traffic, links shared via Twitter are actually more likely to get clicked. On average, each Twitter link gets clicked 4.9 times, compared to 4.3 times for Facebook links and 1.7 times for emailed links.

Another interesting finding from ShareThis' study involves the viral nature of shares: the study found that links are much less likely to be clicked beyond the initial set of people with whom they are shared. Therefore, a share gets diluted once it gets shared beyond the original network.

Furthermore, the study also investigated shared content in terms of different categories (e.g. business, entertainment, politics, etc.), finding that most people restrict their sharing activities to one category. And although Facebook may dominate sharing activity overall, it turns out business-related links might be better suited for sharing via email or Twitter. Facebook, on the other hand, was found to be more heavily concentrated with entertainment or shopping-related shares.

Marketing Takeaways

There's no denying that the popularity of social sharing online can serve to benefit your business. Based on ShareThis' specific research findings, there are a number of key marketing points to make note of:

  1. Create content! Your website visitors will have nothing to share if you don't create, so launch a blog and start publishing content to take advantage of the power of online sharing.
  2. Make it easy for others to share your content. Add social sharing buttons to all of your content to increase its likelihood of getting shared by your readers.
  3. Grow your company's social media reach. Given the fact that shared content becomes less and less effective the more it gets spread beyond the original network with which it was shared, businesses should focus on expanding and building out their direct social media reach. Take the time to build a bigger following on Twitter and accumulating more Facebook fans.
  4. Promote content via appropriate social channels. While Facebook may dominate in the sheer amount of sharing activity on the web today, Twitter and email seems to be more appropriate for sharing business-related links. Monitor trends and how they relate to your specific industry to determine the best social strategy for your business .

What else have you learned from this data?

Originally published Jun 6, 2011 2:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016


Social Media Engagement