The way we share links, photos, videos, and articles is changing rapidly. Once it was e-mail. Then it was Facebook. Now we're turning to messaging apps to share the things that interest us, according to an online snapshot captured by Adobe's Digital Index.
Adobe technology powers many big-name publishers' mobile apps, so the company has the inside scoop on how people are reading and sharing stories they like. Person-to-person sharing through text messages and e-mail is now 70 percent of how articles are passed around, where social media is just 30 percent. Facebook is on the decline, while iMessage sharing is up 259 percent.
"It really speaks to that underlying trend of Instagram and WhatsApp, where people want to share with more controlled groups than they can on Facebook nowadays," Adobe Digital Index principal analyst Tamara Gaffney told TechHive.
E-mail still reigns supreme, but that could change.
Adobe's latest Mobile Benchmark Report aggregated anonymous data from more than 18 billion visits to 10,000 U.S. websites in June, plus 700 million app sessions, to take a snapshot of our behavior. The company also surveyed more than 3,000 cell phone owners in the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Canada.
Bad ad news
Pinterest is quickly becoming a mobile social network, with 64 percent of its traffic coming from smartphones and tablets. That's more than Facebook, which still sees most of its traffic come from desktops.
Facebook also isn't inspiring purchases on smartphones the way its more visual competitors are, which could cause its skyrocketing mobile ad revenue to drop. Tumblr drives the highest spend per click-through on tablets in particular, though it also has fewer referrals overall, so small transactions don't dilute its numbers much.
"When we look at tablets and Tumblr, we're seeing some of the higher-end people," Gaffney said. "As a result, they're likely to spend more because they have more disposable income. That's based on other data we've seen and we've talked to Tumblr about why they think that is."
"Pinterest is much larger and is very visual, as Tumblr is very visual, but Facebook and Twitter are not as visual," Gaffney continued. "Tumblr and Pinterest were born and raised visual so there's a good opportunity for to them to drive more retail referrals."
Pinterest is also more beloved than Facebook, according to a recent customer service survey, where the online bulletin board topped the list of most-liked social networks and Facebook ranked dead last. That goodwill could contribute to Pinterest's high number of referrals.
Another hit for mobile ads: Most people aren't tapping them on purpose. Gaffney said 61 percent of click-throughs on smartphones don't go further than the first page before users realize what they've done and quickly exit.
"That has implications for the social media sphere--how are they going to maintain strong mobile social advertising growth if there's a lot of fat-finger click-throughs?" Gaffney said. "Marketers are going to be holding social networks more accountable."
Adobe's report is just a glimpse of mobile traffic, not overall visits. A recent look at social network referrals showed Facebook still has a healthy lead over the others when it comes to overall traffic.