Desktop Still Trounces Mobile For Content Sharing And Engagement


It’s a mobile world but desktop still holds the advantage in at least one area — engagement with content — according to first quarter data released today by social sharing plugin provider AddThis.

The mobile share of total engagement is increasing — gaining 17 percentage points since the first quarter of 2013 — but AddThis data still show a 65%-35% overall advantage for desktop.

That’s a trend-bucking figure considering how far the mobile pendulum has swung on the social media networks where much of the engagement is taking place. According to ComScore numbers for Q4 of 2013, 68% of the time spent by U.S. users on Facebook was on mobile devices. On Twitter, that percentage was 86%.

So why the disconnect? One possible explanation is that publishers are still clinging to the desktop environment and haven’t fully optimized their content for the small screen.

Another is that even on mobile sites or apps, the sharing and engagement tools are often cumbersome. I know that in my own use, I’m much more likely to take a further step beyond reading — liking, sharing, bookmarking — when I’m sitting at my desk.

There’s also an issue of the definition of engagement. AddThis, which compiles its data from 14 million worldwide domains that have installed its engagement plugins, includes printing and “address bar sharing” in the mix, and both of those actions are much more likely to be performed by someone sitting in front of a PC. Here’s a breakdown of the top engagement actions tracked by AddThis: how-they-shareInterestingly, after Facebook sharing with 26% of total engagement, the desktop staple sharing of URLs from the address bar is second at 21%.

Engagement By Category

AddThis also broke down engagement details by entertainment, sports, politics, food and travel categories, interesting information for marketers targeting those segments.  Download the full report here (PDF).  Some of the notable category-based takeaways:


  • —Peak sharing hour of the day: 2:00pm – 3:00pm ET
  • Top way to engage: sharing to Facebook at 36%


  • —Peak hour of engagement: 11:00am – 12:00pm ET
  • Top way to engage: 36% sharing to Facebook


  • —Peak sharing hour of the day: 10:00am – and 11:00am EST
  • Top way to engage: 27% sharing to Facebook


  • —Peak sharing hour of the day: 11:00am — 12:00pm
  • Top way to engage with food-related content: 46% sharing to Pinterest


  • —Peak hour of engagement: 11:00am – 12:00pm ET
  • The top way to engage with travel content is printing at 26%, followed by sharing to Facebook at 24%


Related Topics: Analytics | Channel: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is Third Door Media's Social Media Correspondent, reporting on the latest news for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. He spent 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, serving as social media and reader engagement editor from 2010-2014. A graduate of UC Irvine and the University of Missouri journalism school, Beck started started his career at the Times as a sportswriter and copy editor. Follow Martin on Twitter (@MartinBeck), Facebook and/or Google+.

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  • Vermont Design Works

    It’s definitely a usability issue, as you articulated. While mobile browsers now have more built in sharing options, it’s not second nature yet, the way share buttons apparently are on desktop. Also, while evidence is strictly anecdotal, I think a lot of people like to copy and paste a URL to share it within the site (or app), rather than just using a share button on an article or in a mobile browser… and a lot of people simply don’t do a lot of copy+paste on their phones, or even tablets for that matter. Us “web people” certainly do, but think about the average mobile user… How often do you think they copy and paste? Do they even know how to tap, tap and press then “select all”, etc.?

    Anyway, great piece… Interesting data that I’m sure will surprise many, but clearly there are logical explanations, even in an age when all we hear is “Mobile! Mobile! Mobile!”

  • John Doherty

    Interesting data here, but I can’t help but wonder how the rate of sharing is affected by products that are still desktop-focused and not well optimized for mobile devices.

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