It’s no surprise that people share on social media around big events. But a new study takes a deeper look at who shares what when, how and where. Palo Alto, Calif.-based social media platform ShareThis has released its Q3 snapshot of sharing trends across 450 million unique users, 2.5 million sites and apps, over 120 channels and both desktop and mobile devices.
The study, which looks at social behavior around major events like Shark Week, the Middle East events around ISIS, Apple Launch events, and Ferguson riots, finds that overall, users are five times more engaged in sharing in the days surrounding events, with 83 click-backs, jumping to 186 the day of. In addition, there are swings in channel use with Facebook, Twitter and Reddit the primary forums for discussion about events, and a two- to four-fold increase in Twitter and Reddit activity.
Entertainment events are socialized on Facebook, while sports events skew to Twitter, ShareThis found. Mobile drives 72% of total sharing, and tablets saw two times more sharing around events in the third quarter. While fluctuation of social on phones and desktop actually tend to mirror each other hour by hour, tablets show a huge spike during prime time, between 8 and 10 p.m. And tablets dominated as sharing platforms for events like Shark Week, NFL Kickoff, and the Napa earthquake. Use of tablets for sharing lifted by 99% for Shark Week, 159% for the NFL Kickoff, and 156% for the Napa earthquake. For the Middle East crisis, desktops dominated in terms of increased social media, but not nearly to the degree of tablets during the events where it saw big spikes.
The study also found that people don’t just talk about the proximal event, but about related topics as well. For example, during NFL kickoff, buzz around soccer saw a 44-times increase, and rugby a 20x increase. For Shark Week, there was about a 16x increase in buzz around animals, a 23.2x increase around TV drama and a 29.4x increase in nature topics.
And sharing is localized, with the Napa earthquake getting buzz in California, Oregon and the Southwest. Ferguson -- although a national event in impact -- had the most buzz on the eastern side of the Midwest.
Not surprisingly, younger people share the most. Users 55 and over share the most in the two weeks after the event.
In terms of channels. ShareThis finds that Facebook dominates over the surrounding two to three weeks of an event, at 85% of sharing activity, but Twitter and Reddit lead in terms of reactivity within two to three days of an event.