Social Diversity

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With all the users on Facebook, it should be difficult to trump its rate of sharing, yet other social sites are gaining quickly on Facebook’s hold.  As Silicon Alley Insider reports,

Twitter is already about half as popular with only about one-tenth as many users.

Chart of sharing on social media sites

Thus, as its user numbers begin to rise it has the potential to surpass Facebook for sharing information.  Not to say that twitter will be more popular, Facebook has significantly more uses than twitter, from picture sharing to mafia wars playing.

In the Silicon Alley Insider’s chart of sharing, one thing to note is that this chart represents those who used the website or publisher’s method to share, specifically using the widgets made by AddToAny.

Using the publisher’s widget for sharing is also important for considering its only 11.1% share in sharing.  Personally, I much rather send a link through my own email by the ol’ cut & paste method, so I don’t have to type in my friends’ email address by hand.

This article seems to be part of a larger argument that says email is no longer a preferred way to share information.  Recently, I’ve heard way too many experts discuss email as a dying method of exchange, not only in sharing, but in marketing as well.  While I do understand there have been recent abuses of the email blast function – sorry but I haven’t opened an email since the election last year – and Facebook allows for easier ways to see what’s up with your friends, email is still incredibly useful. 

It’s just that email blasts have earned the reputation of being like a needy ex-girlfriend/boyfriend.  People don’t want to be bombarded by weekly requests for action or hear the same story yet again.  But when the email offers something truly new or interesting (and not tweaking of the old) say an event centered on my favorite activity, I’m not only reading the email, but I’m going to the event and taking friends.

Still, in regards to information sharing, email still scores highly, especially in the professional world.  While AdToAny widgets may not be used, people are emailing links every day to coworkers, clients, old clients to remind them you’re still interested, and so on.  In many companies there are actually staff personnel relegated to creating weekly or sometimes daily email blasts of links for client, based on the clients request or particular field.

Also, let us not ignore the role of instant message services.  I’ve done projects with a few companies that were significantly less than tech-friendly and yet one of the standard means of communication between employees was through instant messaging.  Whether it was finding the boss’ interview with the Wall Street Journal or developments on a project in Peru, if we found it online – we shared it through messenger.  Again, just like tracking information sharing through email, tracking the rate of information sharing through instant messaging is difficult, if not impossible due to laws protecting privacy.  All we can say for now is that in sharing information, social sites are proving to be a recognized medium and growing in popularity.

What will the future of social sites look like?  My guess would be that social sites which appeal or center around specific interests or needs, Emily’s list for recommendations, delicious for bookmarking, will grow in popularity and use, but not necessarily compete with Facebook for staying in touch with friends or twitter for sharing information.

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On 07/27/2009
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