Recent studies have provided more insight into how people share content — and therefore how publishers can hone their social media strategies. In the last year, sharing through social media was on the rise, but e-mail is still a popular way to share content.
Social media saw a bump in usage (10 percent) and click-throughs (16 percent) from August 2009 to July 2010, according to a recent report by marketing firm SocialTwist
. The firm analyzed more than a million referral messages sent through its Tell-a-Friend
The study also found that Twitter gets far more referrals than Facebook, averaging around 19 clicks, compared to Facebook's average referral rate of fewer than three clicks.
But Facebook's “like” button could turn Facebook into more of a traffic-builder
. A recent analysis by Facebook
found that many publishers are seeing traffic increases since adding the social plug-in to their sites. ABC News, for example, saw a traffic increase of 190 percent; Gawker and TypePad shot up more than 200 percent; and Sporting News' traffic went up by 500 percent.
Of course, traffic from Facebook and Twitter depends on your audience
. NPR surveyed
its social followers, revealing that Facebook users were more likely to say they “often click through to NPR stories” than Twitter users. NPR has twice the Twitter followers as Facebook users, yet Twitter referrals only get one-fifth the amount of referrals as Facebook users in any given month. NPR's blog says that “while Twitter may be an ideal way of getting headlines to our users, it doesn’t necessarily translate to the same amount of traffic as Facebook does.”
Facebook is still the sharing powerhouse
for most sites, accounting for a whopping 78 percent of referrals from social networking sites, according to SocialTwist. The most shocking stat is that MySpace
accounted for 14.5 percent of referrals; apparently, people still use the site. Twitter and LinkedIn only accounted for 5 percent and 1 percent, respectively. (However, the results reflect only one particular sharing widget.)
What's the lesson here? Twitter is a tiny group with mighty power, but Facebook is more mainstream. Publishers are smart to concentrate on both.
E-mail still matters
While social media grabs the headlines, publishers should not forget the most retro of sharing services: e-mail is still a prominent way to share content
. A recent study by market research firm Chadwhick Martin Bailey
found about half of U.S. adults share content at least once a week, with most of those users sharing through e-mail (86 percent) and Facebook coming in a distant second (49 percent). For those in the younger cohort (18 to 34), e-mail and Facebook are almost even, but for those over 35, e-mail remains the dominant way to share content (93 percent).
According to SocialTwist, e-mail generates almost a third of click-throughs after social sites (see chart, below), which account for 60 percent of click-throughs. E-mailing links might not have the same reach as sharing via social media, but it's still effective for garnering referrals (after all, it's often the most personal way to share content). Publishers shouldn't get rid of the “e-mail this” button just yet.
Breakdown by CTR