Twitter is the most popular social sharing option on the 100 top blogs in the blogosphere. So says a recent report from Royal Pingdom that studied how common dedicated buttons, for different means of sharing web content, were on top blogs. The study found that dedicated Twitter buttons existed on 66 of the top 100 blogs (as per Technorati’s Top 100 list). Facebook buttons were only on 58 blogs, and Digg only on 43. Poor old Google Buzz is at the bottom of sharing choices.
While this is a very informative study and Royal Pingdom doesn’t actually claim that their data indicates any popularity of sharing option use by site visitors, the results can be misleading, because they only highlight the preferences of the publishers of the Top 100 blogs. Royal Pingdom points out that they are including social sharing widgets such as ShareThis and AddThis, only dedicated individual buttons for various social sharing sites.
Justin Thorp of AddThis provided some figures that paint a better picture of actual use of sharing options by site visitors. Their social sharing widget is used on over 800,000 websites, and data indicates that Twitter comprises only 8.28% of all sharing, coming in 4th after Facebook, email and print use. Facebook enjoys several times that amount, making up 30.82% of sharing. (See AddThis’ services page for more data on other means of sharing, and their publisher list to see which sites are using their widget.)
Of course, AddThis’ data considers 800,000 websites and over 600M website visitors. Royal Pingdom’s only considers the top 100 blogs. The latter’s study also precludes the possibility that people will use other means to share web content. Here are some examples, to clarify:
- While Stumbleupon was included in the Royal Pingdom study, some “stumblers” prefer to use the Stumbleupon browser toolbar, available for certain browsers including Firefox.
- People sometimes share web content directly to Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Digg, Reddit, etc., by manually pasting in the URL. Or they might re-share/ retweet when they see that a social friend has already posted the content to Facebook or Twitter. (Aside: Social sharing widget ShareThis now has an option for monitoring conversation around content shared by the type of web content sharing buttons that Royal Pingdom refers to in their study.)
- Web & mobile social sharing tools the likes of YourVersion mean that people can share a page of web content even if there’s no dedicated button, either directly from the site, from a browser toolbar, or a smartphone. (Note: I’m an unpaid tech evangelist for YourVersion.)
- Digg has a new iPhone app that does not curently facilitate sharing of web content but might do so in the future.
Basically, this means that while dedicated Twitter buttons might be more prominently displayed on the Top 100 Blogs, it is not necessarily the most popular way for readers of those sites to share web content. What would be nice to see is comprehensive data of the top 1,000 (or even 10,000) blogs in terms of both the popularity of display of social sharing buttons, as well their actual use by site visitors.