Report: Facebook Dominates Social Sharing Of Major Events, But Twitter & Reddit React Quicker
ShareThis quarterly report finds that Facebook commands a large lead in total sharing of major events, but Twitter and Reddit activity ramps up the closer you get to the event.
Facebook is for ice bucket challenges. Twitter is for Ferguson, Mo. That’s been the conventional wisdom in the past few months; that conversation about breaking news is happening mostly on Twitter, while people are using Facebook to share less timely — some would say less newsworthy — topics.
The evidence for this conclusion has been anecdotal, which is almost always the case when you are comparing results produced by Facebook’s opaque News Feed algorithm to anything. So any time there’s a chance to dig into data that sheds light on public social sharing activity, it’s wise to seize it.
The quarterly report of consumer sharing behavior published this week by social data and sharing tool provider ShareThis offers such an opportunity. And while the data, drawn from the 450 million unique users and 2.5 million sites and apps in the ShareThis network, doesn’t directly address the ice-bucket-vs.-Ferguson question, it does provide some interesting marketing takeaways.
First, Facebook is still the dominant platform. ShareThis focused on nine major events — Shark Week, the NFL season opener, Burning Man, the Middle East/ISIS crisis, Ferguson, Derek Jeter’s final game, the Apple launch event, the Napa Valley earthquake and the Ice Bucket Challenge — and found that the overwhelming majority — 71% — of sharing activity occurred on Facebook. Twitter was second at 21%, with Reddit, the only other network with a share of more than 1%, at 6%.
Facebook’s advantage is even stronger — 85% of sharing activity — in the two to three weeks surrounding events, but the closer you get to an event, the higher the activity on Twitter and Reddit. Within two or three days of an event, for instance, Twitter activity jumps by a factor of three.
One good example of the ebbs and flows of sharing is how people reacted to last month’s Apple iPhone 6 event.
Apple’s keynote presentation on September 9th caused the internet to explode with buzz: activity reached nearly 40,000 shares the moment Tim Cook emerged on stage (a 400% increase in internet activity surrounding the event). Taking a closer look at the channel breakout of these shares, Twitter dominated online engagement during the presentation, outpacing Facebook by about 70%. At the conclusion of the event, most Twitter activity had died down and Facebook was once again the dominant channel, making up 68% of internet activity surrounding the event.
That’s obviously a strong signal to real-time marketers to pick their spots.
Other interesting insights from the report:
- There was more mobile sharing activity about entertainment and cultural events and more desktop activity about news and politics; but during events, mobile sharing zooms to 72% of total sharing about either.
- There was a two-fold spike in tablet sharing during broadcast events — Shark Week and the NFL season opener. Interestingly, the people who shared during the shows weren’t only sharing more about the shows. During Shark Week, for instance, sharing about the animal and nature categories spiked 16 times compared to the general population of people sharing, but TV show sharing in general jumped 22 times. And while NFL sharers were 19 times more likely to share about football, they were also 44.5 times more likely to share about soccer.
- Younger audiences reacted faster to events; in the first 24 hours after an event, people 18-25 were 2.1 times more likely to share. After one to two weeks, users 55 and older picked up the baton and were 50% more likely to share.
Read the full report on the ShareThis blog.