Social Bookmarking, Part II
Questions for Tim Schigel, CEO of ShareThis.com.
As part of my blog post last week about social bookmarking, I motivated myself to do some original reporting and e-mailed a few questions to Tim Schigel, CEO of ShareThis.com. Here are my questions and his (lightly edited) responses:
HD: What aggregators/sharing sites have the most traction in the marketplace?
TIM: I'm not sure that I am qualified to answer the question regarding sharing sites as it relates to aggregated sharing. Our focus is more of a distributed model. If you are referring to the social Web services inside of ShareThis we can tell you that email still dominates, followed by Facebook, MySpace and Digg.
The answer is very audience and site specific, which is why a sharing platform like ShareThis makes sense. For example, Mr. Wong is very popular in Europe and Digg tends to be more popular in tech-oriented communities.
We believe the users want to choose the service that appeals most to them and the variety is good. Each services has its own niche.
HD: Is Yahoo Buzz (who have been actively pursuing traditional publishers) making a dent in the overall market?
TIM: We definitely see Yahoo Buzz ramping up, and their ability to leverage the Yahoo portal makes a ton of sense. However, it's only one aspect of the sharing puzzle.
Sharing is becoming a broader term for a set of activities including "send" (email, AIM, MySpace message); "post" (to blog or profile); "collect and organize" (RSS, tag, bookmark); and "rate and recommend" (Digg, Yahoo Buzz, Reddit). These services are often separate, but from the consumer's perspective, they really need to be integrated. So Yahoo Buzz does a great job for what it does.
The traffic generated by Yahoo Buzz will likely be somewhat transient, or susceptible to spikes by its very nature. Publishers tell us they are more interested in increasing engagement on their sites. Not that anyone is going to turn away a momentary boost in traffic. Further, people want to know what their network of friends are reading and watching.
So when you ask "Are they making a dent in the market?" the answer is, yes, they are making an impact in terms of generating traffic for selected publishers. The question is what do you define as the market? Does success include generating more sharing activity or raw traffic?
HD: Is a shakeout coming? How many of these sharing/bookmarking sites can actually survive?
TIM: We think many of these services and niche sites will survive and thrive based on their ability to serve their specific audience. We're seeing the number of social Web services growing every day. We receive multiple requests per week for services to be including in ShareThis. That's why services like ShareThis have come about-to enable flexibility for the publisher and consumer. Ultimately, I think there can only be a few broad sharing platforms, but many specialized services that plug into the platform.
-- Henry Donahue is the CEO of Discover Media LLC, the publisher of Discover magazine and Discovermagazine.com. Donahue was formerly CFO of Primedia's Lifestyles Magazine Group, a 30-plus magazine division, which included Soap Opera, Crafts, Boating, Equine and History titles.
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