Email Still the King of Social Sharing

Email is dead. Long live email!

We’ve been hearing that the email era is over on a monthly basis for years now. But despite overflowing inboxes, new email killers coming out all the time, and of course spam, email is still going strong. As the site share widget has become ubiquitous on the web, many sites are hiding email sharing amongst 750 other social media icons. Do so at your own peril. Email is still the most common method used to share content on the Internet.

According to a recent study conducted by AOL and Nielsen, 93% of users share content over email. Despite the trends and the growth of social powers such as Facebook and Twitter, that number is slightly higher than the 89% of study participants who shared using social networks and the 82% who use blogs. When asked what their primary sharing method was, 66% of people answered email and it was also the preferred method in every industry surveyed.

The numbers vary depending on the type of content being shared and whom a user wants to share it with. By a large margin, people prefer to share content with their friends and family and email is huge when sharing with those groups. 89% of those surveyed shared content with their friends over email and for family the number is 86%. The only category of people email isn’t a top sharing method with is the public.

(Wait… 6% of people use email to share something with the public? Stop forwarding those chain emails to everyone Mom!)

With all that data, it’s clear users prefer to share stuff via email. Why then are most sites either lumping email with everything else behind a single share icon or at most pulling out and promoting Twitter and Facebook only?

“Email to a Friend” buttons used to be everywhere but fell out of favor, possibly due to spam and the privacy concerns of submitting not just your own email but your friends’ emails too on a web form. The email share forms still have value though and web users have actually become more comfortable again sharing this information online again as sharing personal information online has been made commonplace by social networking. You can also also offer email sharing via a standard mailto: link. This allows visitors to use their own email client instead of a web form, helpful not just to those worried about privacy but also on mobile devices.

While Facebook Like and Tweet This buttons are great for encouraging conversation about your content, your visitors still also want to be able to easily share links with specific friends and family members. However implemented, it is important to encourage and enable the sharing of your site’s content via email and not just social media networks.

The stats show, reports of email’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

Think Apps are All That Matters for Mobile? Think Again.

The buzz out there now is all about apps. Whether it’s for iPhone or Android, you can’t visit Yahoo.com or watch the local news without hearing all about the latest, greatest mobile app. Dedicated apps that users install from app stores have a lot of advantages and there are some out there we all can’t live without, but you can’t ignore the mobile web.

Two apps that are on most every smartphone user’s home screen are Twitter and Facebook. They’re two of the best designed apps out there and both have been in the top 25 free apps in the iTunes App Store consistently since launch. Knowing that you might think Facebook and Twitter users always take advantage of those great apps when they’re on the go, but the numbers say otherwise. Based on numbers aggregated by Luke Wroblewski, mobile usage of the top two social juggernauts continues to explode and much of it is on the mobile version of their websites:

  • 50% of the more than 500 million active Facebook users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices (250M) compared to 25% a year ago (100M out of 400M). 33% of Facebook posts are sent via mobile devices. (source)
  • Facebook’s top mobile client is m.facebook.com (Facebook’s mobile Web site) with 18% of total new Facebook posts. Android, iPhone, and Blackberry are next each with about 4% of total new Facebook posts. (source)
  • 50% of total active Twitter users are on multiple platforms (mobile) compared to 25% a year ago. 40% of all tweets are sent via mobile. (source)
  • Twitter’s top mobile client is m.twitter.com (Twitter’s mobile Web site) with 14% of total unique users. SMS is next with 8% of total unique users. Then Twitter for iPhone (8%) followed by Twitter for Blackberry (7%). (source)

For both sites, a much higher percentage of people are using the mobile website than any particular mobile app. On Twitter, even SMS is still ahead of the iPhone and Blackberry apps. Whether it’s because they’re on older phones or because they’re following links in an email or a search result (remember that links don’t open apps), it’s clear that just because you offer an app doesn’t mean your mobile web presence is any less important.

Trending: The Luxury Treatment, Expanding Your Brand Through Social Media, Advanced Search, and More

Some scattershooting this week covering online marketing, social media branding, and the usability of advanced search. Read on to learn a little more about what I’ve been paying attention to recently.

The Luxury Treatment

eMarketer: Giving Affluents the Luxury Treatment Online
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A pair of articles on marketing to and serving affluent customers online covering web experience expectations, iPad apps, and luxury brands using (or not using) Twitter. Luxury brick and mortar stores offer intimacy and elegant product presentations and customers expect a comparable experience online. It is important that if you sell high end products or cater to a high end audience that your online presence creates an engaging experience as well.

Continue reading → Trending: The Luxury Treatment, Expanding Your Brand Through Social Media, Advanced Search, and More