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Do People Share More on Facebook or Twitter?

We all share whether it is a tip you pass to a friend via an email or while your out on a bike ride with a friend. This is sharing one to one and it lies at the heart of  who and what we are as socialized humans.

Facebook Sharing

Advertising agencies have understood the power of sharing  and even invented acronyms to describe it such as WOM (Word of Mouth). The power of word of mouth has been embedded in the agencies lexicon for decades and it is a tactic that drives many mass media marketing campaigns.

The creation and evolution of the social web is a marketers dream because it is “sharing at scale”.  If you are on Facebook and you share 500 friends may see it. If you share on Twitter to your 1,000 followers then it is a one to many that can scale. It doesn’t stop there because the possibility exists for them to share with their followers.

This is sharing at an “industrial scale

What is Sharing About?

A study just released by ShareThis in collaboration with Starcom Mediavest Group (SMG) looked at the sharing and clicking habits of more than 300 million people during the month of March who pass links with a ‘ShareThis‘ button on over 100 million websites.

The four highlights from the study were:

1. Sharing is Bigger than Fans, Friends and Followers

Sharing generates almost half of the traffic for websites and brands that is created by search. 10% of website visits comes from sharing. 31% of referral traffic is generated by sharing.

2. Sharing is about Scale not Virality

Shared links are, on average, across all sharing channels, clicked on 4.9 times each, so content shared by large groups of people reach a wider audience than content passed along from others.

3. Everyone who Shares is an Influencer

If the subject is important to him or her. Instead of one person being universally influential on a wide range of topics, the study found that many people are influential on only one or two topics.

4. Sharing is about Moments of of Opportunity and Relevance

The study proves that sharing is a viable marketing solution for reaching audiences when they are most receptive to a particular category of advertising.

Does Facebook or Twitter Win on Clicks?

If you just look at the number of clicks then Twitter is the the social media channel that produces the most clicks with an average of 4.8 clicks per link. Though the study does show that Facebook is gaining share.

Who Wins at Sharing Facebook or Twitter

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.

What I think this highlights is that the further removed it becomes from the initial source of sharing then the less relevant the information becomes to the reader.

When it comes to Sharing Facebook Rules

Facebook accounts for 38 percent of all sharing referral traffic. Email and Twitter tied for second with 17 percent each. 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.

Do People Share More on Facebook or Twitter

Do People Share a Wide Range of Categories?

This finding from the study surprised me with the revelation that 80% of people only share one type of category over a one month period whether that be business, politics or entertainment.

Do people share a wide rang of categories?

What this highlights is that developing a tightly targeted audience who are interested in your category is vital if you want your content to be shared.

Building up your Facebook Fans and Twitter followers that are closely aligned and interested in your core content will produce the greatest level of sharing.

What the study highlights for me is that Facebook is certainly the 800 pound social media gorilla for marketers that cannot be ignored but Twitter and Email should certainly be in your toolkit.

The other thing that I certainly notice is that there are still a lot of blogs and websites that do not have sharing buttons and as a minimum you should have a Facebook Share button and a Twitter retweet button otherwise you are missing out on a lot of ‘sharing love’.

So if you haven’t included Facebook or Twitter in your marketing yet you are missing out on a lot of sharing  of your content and ideas.

Image by simiezzz

Jeffbullas's Blog


  • It would be nice if there were metrics that showed B2B, B2C, and personal sharing. Excellent post and good food for thought. 

    • Thanks for the comment Gary. Yes that would be good, but I don’t know if they were able to break the stats down to that level

  • Very informative post. I absolutely love the graphics!

    Interesting to see that blogs and social bookmarking have the largest share in clicks in the statistics shown here. 

  • David Boshier

    Hi Jeff,

    Great article and mirrors the research we have completed on
    our own site.


    • Thanks for the comment David. It is always good to see 2 studies agree

  • Thanks Talei for the observations. It is indeed a fine line between being “Ubiquitous” and “Spammy”… that is where the listening comes in.

  • We’re all love to put out a link that hit all the right points, in the right channel and get clicks. These strategies help but it’s CONTENT that people love that get’s shared

  • Hi Jeff.
    Very interesting read, if somewhat shorter than the topic deserves.

    I think you do not mention that Facebook might have the lead in link sharing because of its graphic-enhanced capabilities. Perhaps a link is more “accepted” if it has some kind of “preview” attached to it, as it is almost always the case with link sharing on Facebook. And that Twitter might have bigger link clicking because its much easier to “follow” an interesting person (celebrity or whatever) -and click on their links- than it is to “friend” him/her on Facebook (although that is changing as more and more people build Fan pages).

    Also, there must be some correlation to these numbers regarding the mobile apps each platform has. Twitter still has the most useful and usable mobile apps, which could be helping keep their marketshare. Twitter for iPad is a much, much more polished and usable app than the iphone-only Facebook app. That has to make a very measurable difference in use and adoption, don’t you think?

    I would be very nice to read a follow up on this story.

    • Thanks Ramiro for your insightful comment. I think that the mobile aspect of both Facebook and Twitter as a comparison would make an interesting post and how it is used on iPads and Smart phones.

    • Magda Papa

      Spot on distinction between FB and Twitter. I have been using Twitter and I still find it the best but I can’t overlook the power of Facebook. It’s where people are and for a marketer there’s a lot to learn by observing reactions to images and pictures, a feature that Twitter doesn’t offer. But yes, on Twitter you can ”mingle” with a croud of ”strangers” because you have things in common and things to share.
      On Twitter you can follow anyone except from very few accounts where tweets are private. People don’t need to be confirmed as friends. Yet, you can connect with people on Twitter in ways that’s useful for you as a professional. Of course there’s the Like page function on FB that allows you to get updates on brands, communities etc but ”liking” a page isn’t the same as ”following” a brand on Twitter because that brand just might want to follow you too because you are interesting, because you SHARE. It is possibility.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jeff, your post is really great and very interesting. I used to read same post concept but then you made better informative statistics of Twitter and Facebook. This is helpful to me as an Internet Marketer. It gives me ideas on how should I keep maintaining my social accounts as well as sharing and posting relevant information links to my audience. Thanks for sharing.


  • markdisomma

    I asserted in a post recently that I could see the six degrees of separation
    globally being replaced by six clicks. My friend Alex challenged this saying
    she thought six clicks was too many and that much after two, the network is
    already so wide and the bonds of engagement so unsupported that people simply
    drop off our radar. Your highly enjoyable post confirms that ultimately there is a finite settling point for a
    social network.

    My post on this is at: http://markdisomma.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/reaching-the-limits-of-conversation/

  • Good topic and article – to me what would be interesting would be to see the stats when compared by B2C vs B2B- I suspect Facebook is more suited to the B2C market? 

  • I share what I know on Twitter, but what I experience, on Facebook. Is there a differentiation between experiential and theoretical type sharing? 

  • Hey Jeff! I’m invited to an in-house marketing meeting for the company I work for and it’s my chance to talk to them about using Twitter to market themselves. Do you have any articles to share about Twitter stats without me having to look them up? *lazy* I’ll l

  • joanna@xposureuae

    Very interesting. I would have thought Twitter came higher in sharing rather than FB just because of the way it is geared. FB tends to be more about likes and comments – and content is shared that way. It also demonstrates how important it is to have a genuine following in terms of marketing your product/brand.


    Hi Jeff,

    Great article and mirrors the research we have completed on
    our own site.