Today, we’re democratizing awesomeness with the next generation of web tools. AddThis Smart Layers includes Share, Follow, Recommended Content and What’s Next tools all in one line of code. We’re bringing data and responsive technology together for publishers of all sizes in ways that have generally only been available to resource-heavy companies like Yahoo! or Amazon.
Given how social continues to evolve quickly, I thought it would be interesting to look at several representative publishers leveraging our social platform and assess what’s happening in the social space overall. To keep things simple, I’ve selected a large publisher (based on uniques) in three verticals. Internally, our deeper analyses have shown each to be representative of the aggregate of the vertical with respect to social behaviors of their users.
Through our AddThis social platform, we empower publishers to provide and track all kinds of social activity on a site – from copy and paste of the URLs and text in page to posting to social services to printing/emailing. We have provided these social services for five years and are now installed by publishers on 14+ million active domains touching 1.3B unique users monthly. We are 10x our closest social tools competitor and, as a result, have an exceptional view into web-wide behaviors.
In this analysis, we assessed:
Shares – a user sending content to their friends / social graph (via sharing button, email or IM) Clicks – a user shares, then another user that sees that share clicks on the link (or, if you prefer, a clickback) Profile of Action – a breakdown of service or share type of the social behavior.
Here are some topline insights from the analysis…
-News sites see the highest virality (as measured by clicks over shares), then e-commerce and food. News sites tend to have short shelf life, highly viral content, such as articles around Frankenstorm, crimes or Olympic victories.
-The e-commerce site exhibited lower virality than the news site, but greater proportion of emailing and printing. We didn’t reflect it in the analysis but the shelf life of the content was longer. This is likely because this site had more expensive, considered purchases. The food site exhibited greater pinning but the lowest virality overall. The content shared were recipes and exhibited the longest shelf life.
What is interesting is not only how much users are sharing but how they share, and how the preferred mechanism for sharing changes by vertical. Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic touched on this in his piece called Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong. While his title implies something ominous, it’s a scientific reference to dark matter being all around us. In our analysis, users are clearly aware of how public/private they are, why they share and what social brands or tools satisfies their need(s) based on their current task. Facebook is the mental anchor for social, but user behavior varies, and is both locked-in and evolving.
Learned behavior – The simple act of copying and pasting an URL drives significant traffic across all categories. It also remains one of the most impactful sharing mechanisms (as measured by virality, e.g., URLs shared by copy/paste exhibit the highest clickback). This behavior is different by medium (mobile vs PC) but is ingrained into consumer behavior. The profile of copy/pasters varies greatly (it’s exhibited, for example, by casual up thru heavy users) and has become a habitual behavior that isn’t changing over time.
Evolving – Pinterest’s growth has been extraordinary. As Pinterest adoption grows across categories of publishers, we are seeing specific verticals adapt faster to quickly changing user behavior. Pinterest has been working to enable easy pinning, and AddThis rolled a pinning tool back in July. We continue to see social behavior evolving, and Pinterest won’t be the last. Sites and technologies that solve a pain point or make actions easier will be adopted. Innovative companies like Sulia recognize that social is maturing and are attempting to build mass niche social communities.
There are interesting implications of this changing consumer behavior. On the one hand, consumer habits are hard to change. On the other, social activity is maturing and fragmenting rapidly. If you look at AddThis global stats, Facebook represents ~50 percent of social activity to 3rd-party social services. However, when you include social activity such as copy/paste of the URL, the percentage decreases significantly.
Stay tuned, we’ll touch more on questions this raises next . . .
It’s hard to believe we’re wrapping up another year. In New York, the recovery from Hurricane Sandy continues, the tree in Rockefeller Center is lit, holiday window displays have been unveiled and Times Square awaits the ball-watching crowds of New Years Eve. It’s a spirited time that always inspires a nostalgic look at the year gone by and renewed perspective for the year ahead.
Much has happened at AddThis and across the industry. We acquired XGraph and changed our name from Clearspring to AddThis. Facebook went public, Pinterest exploded onto the scene and Yahoo! got a new CEO. The year’s most shared events globally related to Osama Bin Laden’s death, Occupy Wall Street and ….for whatever it says about us …Kim Kardashian’s divorce.
As we head into 2013, we’re helping 500+ major brands activate data across paid, owned and earned media. Our social platform is used by more than 14M domains reaching 1.3 billion users worldwide. It’s been an incredible year for us, and we’ll stay maniacally focused on data driven, easy to use, powerful products and services to create deeper consumer engagement. We’ll grow because you’ll grow.
Life is about addition, so from the entire AddThis team, a big thank you for all the work that you do to add rich content to the Open Web. Below are a few of the things we added. To see this year’s sharing trends, check out our annual end-of-year sharing trends infographic.
We’re happy to announce that Clearspring, the makers of AddThis, has officially changed its name to AddThis. As if that isn’t enough good news, today we’re adding three other pieces to the puzzle – adding our audience products that we used to distribute via Clearspring to the AddThis suite, releasing some great new products via our newly launched website, and announcing some updated milestones.
AddThis is now used by 14 million sites, reaching 1.3 billion users monthly. With your help, we’ve become the standard for social content sharing tools and analytics online. The AddThis brand has come to represent social sharing, scale and simplicity. AddThis represents where we are and where we’re going – creating a more personal and social web connecting publishers, advertisers and consumers.
AddThis powers the largest social and interest graph on the web. The AddThis platform is loaded 3 billion times daily, generating 10 terabytes of data a day. We’re on track to process 1 trillion page views this year alone. We process this massive reach via our XGraph technology to map how people are connected by social ties, brand affiliation, and intent. This real-time view of the web’s activity is incredibly powerful and puts us in a select class of companies like Facebook and Google.
AddThis’ mission is to deliver the power of this big social data back to you via easy-to-use products and services. The audience targeting offering that we sold as Clearspring are a step towards our mission and is now available via AddThis as Social+ Audiences. Using Social+ Audiences, advertisers and publishers can tap our social and intent graph to deliver personalized display ads to the right customers at the right time.
AddThis’ is taking another step towards our vision with our new social plugin and analytics suite. This suite goes beyond sharing and enables site owners to engage social visitors with simple tools like follow, trending content, and welcome bar. Like our sharing tools, these plugins are easy-to-install and come action-packed with real-time analytics. And best of all, they are free.
Thank you to the 14 million customers that have helped get us where we are. We’re excited to continue to serve you as AddThis!