Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Is Facebook the Most Popular Social Bookmarking Service on the Web?


sharethislogo.jpgShareThis reports that it is now.

How do website readers prefer to share stories they find with friends? According to the company behind the widely used sharing widget ShareThis, after emailing a link, the most popular method of sharing is now Facebook. The numbers are interesting - but there are also some big caveats to keep in mind.

The Numbers


In our enthusiasm for Web 2.0 style tools, many blog publishers may forget just how popular sharing by email is. It's clearly the favorite method. Email sharing does tend to be one to one however, having items shared on Digg or Facebook has the potential to reach many, many more people.

The big surprise here, though, is that Facebook and MySpace have emerged as hugely popular ways to share items from off-site. Have they found greater mainstream success in the relatively short time these sites have supported item sharing than dedicated social bookmarking sites that have in the years they have been online? It appears that may be the case.

We found these numbers via Amit Agarwal's blog, which is always a great place to discover new things about the web.

Why This is Important

When publishers add the ShareThis system to their websites, they can choose which services to include buttons for. It's an important detail to take into consideration and knowing which services are most popular can help make this decision. Here at RWW we don't use ShareThis, we use another service called AddThis. Looking at the numbers from ShareThis, though, would lead us to believe that sharing by email needs to be added and sharing by Facebook needs to be given higher billing in our widget. Other sites might make other decisions based on this data. GigaOm, for example, doesn't offer sharing by Facebook at all - something our friend Om might want to change.


A few things to take into consideration, however, include the following:

  • Your site's audience may vary. Different communities around different content topics probably have different trends in the sharing tools they use. We assume, for example, that there aren't a lot of people sharing ReadWriteWeb stories on MySpace - but maybe we're wrong!
  • Some of these services use bookmarklets. These numbers aren't for all sharing, just sharing that goes on through the ShareThis widget. Delicious users, for example, don't necessarily think of what they are doing as sharing (it's often bookmarking for personal use) and that service has its own bookmarklet.

None the less, the take away here for us is this: email, Facebook and MySpace are very popular ways for people to share things online. Publishers neglect them at our own risk.