E-mail continues to dominate emerging social channels such as Twitter and Facebook. E-mail remains the favorite way to share information with colleagues and friends, according to the latest social media study by ShareThis, a popular social content sharing widget.

Shared content breakdown:

  • Email: 46%
  • Facebook: 33%
  • Twitter: 6%

The remaining 14.4 percent split out between various other platforms like Digg, del.icio.us, and LinkedIn.

Also interesting: how people used the content after it was shared. Twitter came out on top for interaction: their links drew the most click-throughs. Maybe the shiny new retweet button is working its magic.


  • Twitter: 40%
  • E-mail: 35%
  • Facebook: 25%

However, the high-speed Twitter visitors ricocheted off the page in short order: Twitter visitors looked at 1.66 pages before exiting. Email on the other hand, delivered much more steady engagement at 2.95 pages.


  • Email: 2.95 pages
  • Facebook: 2.76 pages
  • Twitter: 1.66 pages

Twitter & Email: Speed vs. Depth

Thus far, Twitter is the fastest of the social mediums, much like telegraph or ticker tape messages. Users can access information at the speed of light, and let it go just as quickly.

With speed comes impermanence. This makes Twitter the “quick fix” medium with the least staying power for messages. Once a tweet appears, it can float away in an instant, or get a boost on wave after wave of retweets. Twitter visitors click the links, and click back just as quickly.

It’s interesting to see how the virtual opening of Twitter borders with new technology integration will affect the development of the system and expand this ripple effect.

While Twitter usage has soared, email is still the top social media sharing mechanism. Integrated campaigns will have deeper, more lasting effects.

At 40 percent, Twitter seems to have the highest “click-it!” factor. The fast pace encourages you to click links before they sail out into the global stream of consciousness. However, the numbers show email still has much more popular acceptance, and email visitors tend to stay longer.

“Of course this varies by vertical and site, but if you think about your own habits, it makes sense. Getting an emailed link from a friend may cause you to pay more attention than the more random discovery that you get on Twitter as you consume quick opinions.” – Tim Schigel (@schigel)

Playing to the strengths of both mediums

Some people also argue that a “closed system” like Twitter or Facebook can never hope to replace or approach an “open system” like email as a universal communication medium. Personally, I don’t think it’s a question of replacing; both mediums have their functions.

Twitter offers a different scope of information and multimedia than email. You have to consider the amount of data you can communicate in 140 characters. Enough to intrigue, not enough to educate or persuade. On the other hand, you can’t beat Twitter for immediate message gratification.

With email, you can get more creative with multimedia and use HTML templates and engagement tracking. You can deliver a more complex message, offer more options for interaction, and create a more complete experience. Email also provides the comforting idea you can save something to read later. It’s very easy to organize and archive information. Facebook falls somewhere in between.

Your thoughts?

It’s a safe bet that the capabilities of both platforms will continue to evolve and entwine. Your thoughts? Where are email, Twitter, and Facebook headed?