What if most people would rather share privately?
That’s the question publishers might be asking themselves after today’s Digiday story reporting of the startling news that the WhatsApp sharing button on USA Today’s FTW sports site gets more action that the Twitter button. From the story:
Since introducing a WhatsApp sharing button to its mobile site a week ago, FTW has already seen WhatsApp shares climb to 18 percent of the site’s overall sharing activity. That’s higher than Twitter (13 percent) but still significantly lower than email (35 percent) and Facebook (34 percent).
“This has opened our eyes,” USAT content director Jamie Mottram told Digiday. “Clearly, there’s an audience and behavior here that we should tap into.”
Few publishers are going down that road so far. But you can be sure that won’t last, considering these eye-opening results and the fact that WhatsApp has 500 million active users who reportedly send 50 billion private messages a day. But tapping WhatsApp’s potential won’t be easy, because it doesn’t seamlessly integrate with third-party apps and the share buttons don’t currently work on Android.
And the exuberance about FTW’s results should be tempered, in my opinion, until there’s confirmation about what exactly is being measured. In February there was a similar report about BuzzFeed’s experiments with an iOS share-to-WhatsApp button, claiming WhatsApp sharing had surpassed Twitter. However, Nieman Journalism Lab’s Joshua Benton noted that only clicks on the sharing buttons on iOS devices were being counted not overall sharing and certainly not referral traffic.
So it’s still early in the game, but clearly there’s real potential for WhatsApp’s person-to-person sharing to get in on the action.
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)