ShareThis Study: Facebook Accounts For 38 Percent Of Sharing Traffic On The Web

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Sharing is big on the Web. We all know that. But exactly how big? ShareThis has some answers in a study it put together with Starcom MediaVest Group and Rubinson Partners. Looking across the sharing and clicking habits of the more than 300 million people a month who pass links with a ShareThis button on over a million websites (producing 7 billion pageviews a month), a few things stood out.

Overall, sharing now produces an estimated 10 percent of all Internet traffic and 31 percent of referral traffic to sites from search and social. Search is still about twice as big.

When it comes to sharing on the Web, Facebook rules. Facebook accounts for 38 percent of all sharing referral traffic. Email and Twitter tied for second with 17 percent each. (Correction: ShareThis provided a slide with the wrong numbers,now swapped out. Twitter is actually 11 percent, and email is 17 percent). Those are the percentages that actually clicked through. The raw sharing numbers are higher. Facebook makes up 56 percent of all shared content (up from 45 percent in August, 2010), followed by email at 15 percent (down from 34 percent) and Twitter at 8 percent (down from 12 percent). The difference between these two sets of numbers is that some content is shared that is never clicked on, thus the raw numbers are higher.

Facebook may be gaining share, but Twitter is holding its own in terms of actual clicks. On average, Twitter links are clicked on 4.9 times each, versus 4.3 times for Facebook links and 1.7 times for emailed links.

But sharing isn’t as viral as most people might think. Links are much less likely to be clicked beyond the initial set of people they are shared with. In other words, if you share a link directly with me and I know you, I will probably click on it. But if I then pass that link along to people once or twice removed from you, the chances they will click on the link falls dramatically.

And when it comes to sharing, 80 percent of people share only one category of links and more than 70 percent will only ever click on one category, whether that is business, politics, or entertainment. Facebook is especially strong when it comes to sharing entertainment and even shopping links, whereas email and Twitter seem to make some inroads when it comes to business or health.