Why Sharing Is Essential For Your Brand

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ADOTAS – Six-hundred thirteen million people. That’s two United States and one-tenth of the entire world’s population. It’s also the amount of people who, according to comScore, share online every month. It’s a staggering number that should make our mothers proud – after all, they were the first ones to teach us that sharing is good, and it looks like the lesson stuck.

That number is also emblematic of something bigger. What it says more than anything else is how important sharing is and what a core part of online behavior it’s become. After building an entire business around sharing, ShareThis thought it was time to take a closer look at how and why people share. In partnership with Starcom MediaVest Group, ShareThis examined seven billion signals shared by more than 300 million users across one million domains. The results paint a picture of an activity that advertisers would be foolish to ignore.

The research turned up some fascinating stats: Not only does sharing generate more than 10% of all Internet traffic – almost half the volume of search – it’s also a valuable tool for marketers to reach the audiences they want at the most opportune moment possible. While Facebook leads the pack, generating 38% of sharing, Twitter accounts for 11 percent, and good old-fashioned email for 17%. The remainder of sharing activity is done via bookmarking, blogs and other online options.

Online sharing, an activity that used to be little more than the occasional cutting and pasting of a link into an email bound for a friend or family member’s inbox, has become the center of some of the Web’s biggest companies. Think about it: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, SCVNGR and a host of other hot startups are all based around sharing – and Google is certainly trying to reorganize itself to do the same.

There’s a nascent, but fast-growing industry revolving around sharing. The companies above, along with others that provide sharing based services, have all figured out how to build business models enabling sharing, but there’s room for more. A recent study conducted by the New York Times Customer Insight Group highlighted a key message: the Web is now allowing us to share more content from more sources with more people more often more quickly. With this flurry of activity taking place, how do companies that aren’t native to the Web – big brands and companies – capitalize on this huge thing that masses twice the American population?

They start listening to the right conversations. They’ve been trying to for years, but a lot of noise usually gets in the way. Brands need to find out what people want in order to sell them things and sharing provides brands with that window into their audiences’ wants and needs, allowing them to tune into the conversations that matter and block out the rest.

Sharing creates a connection between content, people and the people they know, and is based on what people are talking about and who they’re talking about it with. Think of it this way – are you more likely to make the apple pie recipe your mother shared with you, just as her mother shared with her, or the random one that turned up in your search results? If you’re like most, mom’s wins, hands down. Sharing matters more than any other activity on the web and brands have only begun to skim the surface of this immensely valuable online action.

Because it’s a social activity, sharing gives deep insights into what people care about and the relationships they have with other people. This all gives brands an entirely different way to advertise that’s timely, personalized and trusted. Instead of blindly throwing a wide net and pulling in only a few of the fish they were trying to catch, sharing allows brands to cast many well-placed lines and reel in the fish they want.

Sharing enables the spread of information, by consumers, from publishers, anywhere on the web. It’s the core of what these companies do. That core is at the center of a whole new sharing economy: People share, web publishers see how and why people are sharing, and advertisers are able to get inside conversations people are having about the things they care about.

With the way things are going, sharing is quickly becoming the most important activity on the web, possibly the biggest thing to hit advertising since Madison Avenue. This is why ShareThis constantly talks about the importance of sharing. It’s a simple, but intensely important act that almost everyone who owns a computer does every day. Or at least 613 million of them do every month.

Sharing is a part of people’s every day lives. ShareThis is going to make it an every day part of the online economy.

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