New Independent Study Highlights Differences in How and Why Adults and Youth Share Online : Adults Depend on Email as Source of Shared Content; Younger Generation Embraces Instant Messaging, Social Networking, Video Sharing and Text Messaging Sharing Gives Marketers Greater Insights Than Search

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A new study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by ShareThis, the sharing network that makes it simple and easy to share any online content, reveals new insights into what different segments share online, including how and when; the obstacles to sharing; and why the data about what people share is increasingly important for advertisers, publishers and marketers.

ShareThis believes there is huge potential for communities to become even more connected through the simplicity of one-click sharing while helping publishers realize the benefits of all the great sharing data.

Sharing has grown in influence with the rise of tools and sites such as Digg, Delicious, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, FriendFeed, text and picture messaging, and instant messaging. Sharing has grown in importance in building online communities and for also providing tremendous insights into what matters to different groups.

According to the Forrester study titled: "The Ins and Outs of Online Sharing" showed that overall, adults still depend on personal email as a main source of receiving shared content: in fact 69 percent still rely on email to share content and information. Whereas, youth tap multiple channels of shared content for new information. Personal emails made up 56 percent of shared content received; however, more than 50 percent of youth use instant messaging, videos from YouTube, and wikis to share content, while notes on social networks and text messages on cell phones equates respectively to 30 percent and 41 percent for how this demographic receives information.

The study also highlights a new group that has emerged as sharing has grown in influence. 'Power Sharers' are a new category defined as individuals that share content at least weekly and share with 11 or more people through at least one channel. Adult Power Sharers represented 35 percent of the online population, and Youth Power sharers make up 62 percent of the online population, showcasing how each of these groups feed the viral cycles and influence networks.

The study highlights:

  -- How important and influential sharing has become - Direct personal channels amongst people have greater trust than public channels such as news alerts or RSS feeds; 92 percent of adults trust an email from someone they know, while 70 percent trust messages through someone they know through a social site.

-- That sharers differ in intensity, channel and motivation -- Content differs by sharer and by gender -- Shared content sources such as video sites like YouTube, a wiki, or social networking sites have grown in importance as channels of sharing and recommendations -- What obstacles to sharing people face and how to eliminate them -- The power of the sharing category to marketers   High level findings:

  -- Email is still primary channel for sharing -- 69 percent of adults cite email as the primary source of receiving information -- Less than one-third of online adults said they learned about the new content from generally shared content sources such as YouTube, a wiki, or social networking sites -- 64 percent of adults and 60 percent of youth still use the traditional cut and paste method to share a URL or information -- However this is not trackable by publishers, making sharing by email tough to measure -- Though the primary motivation for sharing differs, 81 percent of adults claim that, when cutting and pasting content to share, they share to help others - believing that a person will benefit from the information they share   Further Breakdown:

  -- Overall, youth share more information online than adults, and rely heavily on socially shared content -- Video content is shared twice as much amongst online youth than adults, with 60 percent noting they received information through an online video site such as YouTube -- Web tools such as wikis are used by 53 percent of youth vs. 29 percent of adults, with webpage services such as 'tags' being shared by 31 percent of youth vs. only 16 percent of adults  

-- Online youth share more content types than adults (with the exception of news articles). In particular, 73% of online youth shared peer-generated video, versus 39% of online adults -- The motivation for sharing amongst men differs than those of women -- In general, men are more likely to share something to appear cool or to look like an expert -- Men more likely to share product recommendations and video than women; 77 percent of adult males and 74 of younger males shared news and web links -- Women are more likely to share products or ideas they like via easy or direct sharing methods -- Women strongly favor send to a friend feature; more than 60 percent of adult woman use the send to a friend feature on websites -- Women are more likely to share directly, especially via cell phone texting -- Adult women tend to face more obstacles when trying to share content online, with 40 percent saying they could find no ways to share the information directly from the Web page "Communities are built on sharing … word of mouth is the best advertising. Harnessing the data from what is being shared amongst groups is the next frontier and provides insights for marketers that go beyond what's possible from search," said Tim Schigel, CEO and co-founder of ShareThis. "ShareThis believes there is huge potential for communities to become even more connected through the simplicity of one-click sharing while helping publishers realize the benefits of all the great sharing data."

ShareThis allows media to become truly social, with the click of just one button. The second you discover something, you can immediately share it in any way you want. No more cutting and pasting paragraphs or links, with ShareThis, simply select who you want to share with and send it directly from the page via email, IM, Facebook, or mobile. ShareThis also brings together all your address books, communities, and friends lists in one place so that you can easily send, post, bookmark, rate, recommend and tag.

ShareThis is a distributed network that uses the popular ShareThis button that can be deployed on any site to drive traffic, stimulate viral activity, and track the sharing of content. ShareThis also simplifies social media services by reducing clutter on web pages, and providing instant distribution of content across social networks, affiliate groups, and communities. ShareThis will be announcing major partnerships with leading publishers, blogs, and content providers over the coming weeks.

About the Research

In the spring of 2008, Forrester Consulting conducted an online survey of 2014 US online adults and youth to understand what content they shared, through which channels they shared, and how frequently they shared content.

In this study:

400 respondents were youths — males or females aged 13 to 17 years old. 1,614 respondents were adults — males or females aged 18 or older. Each respondent must have shared content through at least one channel. Online moms – females that have children under 18 PowerSharers – people who shared content at least weekly and share with 11 or more people About ShareThis

ShareThis lets people easily share the things they find online, in the most convenient way possible. ShareThis consolidates address books and friend lists, so that anything can be shared immediately, without even leaving a webpage.

ShareThis's exceptional management team comprises industry leaders with experience gained within international media, marketing and technology companies including: Advertising.com, AOL, and Nielsen Buzzmetrics. Visit http://www.sharethis.com for more information.

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Julie Smith
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