AddThis trends analysis: the remarkable role of e-mail in content sharing


E-mail has always been the main interaction channel for people to share content. Then came social media and with them the possibility to update networks of friends and acquaintances via a diversity of new channels. Despite the clear role of social networks, e-mail still proves to be by far the main content sharing channel according to a report by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies.

Facebook ended second in the same survey. Recently, one of the most popular social sharing tools, AddThis, released data about how people use the service to share content. Since AddThis is mainly used in blog posts, e-mail and other content carriers, it's obvious that people use it most to spread content via social networks.

So it should not come as a surprise that Facebook is right at the top of sharing channels the users of AddThis preferred in 2010.
However, a remarkable phenomenon shows. E-mail is already the main content sharing vehicle in general but it plays an increasing role among the users of AddThis as well.

Although Facebook ranked first, it was definitely not the fastest grower in 2010, the social sharing tool specialist says. That honor was reserved for Gmail, StumbleUpon, Orkut and Yahoo Mail.

Especially the strong growth of sharing content via Gmail is remarkable. Using Google's e-mail platform for sharing content increased 1.4 times faster than that of Facebook.

E-mail leads in content sharing, will it rule in "social" content sharing?

Last year, the AddThis users mainly shared content via Facebook, which scores 44% of the total 'sharing volume' via the social sharing service. In 2009 this was only 33%. On an annual basis Facebook realised a hefty growth of 163%. But that isn't even half as hefty as the growth of the four services mentioned above.

Gmail represents approximately one third of the total 'sharing volume' of Facebook, but recorded a significantly strong growth of 394%. The use of StumbleUpon increased with 254%.

Another remarkable finding is the relatively small growth of Twitter for content sharing purposes. The sharing volume of Twitter is also lower than that of email, at least via AddThis.

MySpace and Friendster drop even further, just as the "Add to favourite" function that is offered by AddThis. Or in other words: we are more inclined to save our favourite sites and links via social bookmarking instead of on our own computer.

What do these numbers tell us? They give us a good idea of the social sharing behavior of people, but we should also take into account many methodological limitations. The survey by AddThis is after all only about the own service.

Many blogs and sites also add, next to AddThis, "print this", "email this" and certainly Twitter and Facebook buttons. But the results do give you a good idea of some trends.

The report by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies indicates that e-mail is still the most used for spreading and sharing content. Does the growth of Gmail and Yahoo Mail mean that e-mail will also grow its role in 'social sharing'? The future will tell.

Tips to get your content shared

- Context is what makes people share content
- Social sharing tools in cross-channel marketing: a matter of intelligence

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