Sunday, February 22, 2009

Email Is Still King -- or Is It?

[caption id="attachment_225" align="aligncenter" width="501" caption="Sharethis usage data"]Sharethis usage data[/caption]

An interesting blog post at sharethis.com has a pie chart dividing up how users of their service send and share web content with their friends and so on. This is some important data for anyone wanting to promote their website, or anything that has something web associated, like a band. They say, "as you can see, Email dominates sharing activity." However, this may miss an important part of the picture: how many people are reached which each use of their service. For example, if 1.5 people are reached for each email use of sharethis, and six people are reached for each posting to facebook (I made those numbers up, but I think they are reasonable) then actually facebook may be king. Services like digg, which might reach an even larger audience, would do even better, even though they only account for a much smaller percentage of actual use of the sharethis service.

Of course, if a friend emailed you an article personally, you might be more likely to attend to it, comment on it and then, consequently, become involved in the site, whereas if it was posted on facebook and you read it, you might just skim it casually. This is not unimportant: there is still a personal connection with email (believe it or not) that is missed with just posting something to facebook. Imagine seeing something on a feed on facebook: "Oh, that looks interesting, I'll check it out", is your response. Getting an email from a friend who read something and took the time to look and it and think of you in particular to send it to evokes a different response. More like: "Oh, Chris sent me this, I gotta check it out!" That's a small gesture your friend made, and doesn't take long, but it's powerful.

Thanks to Sharethis.com for making their data available!

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