“It depends” – Why context is important when analyzing the mix of user connections by social network platform for any site

We’ve seen a lot of data published lately – and quite a bit of associated confusion – from a host of technology vendors showing drastically different “typical” mix of user connections by social network among those who use a social network identity to register, share, comment or accomplish some other site goal.  It’s terrific that there is so much momentum and data to analyze, but it’s critically important that anyone looking for the “so what’s” keeps context in mind, asking the tough questions, and that those providing the data strive to share as granular a view as possible.

TechCrunch recently published connection mix data from Gigya, and we made a point to break it down by news vs. entertainment sites, and then again for registration versus sharing:

For example, Google, AOL, OpenID and other identity or bookmarking providers don’t (yet) provide Social Login -like sharing capabilities for 3rd party websites (though in a previous post about Google Buzz we talk about how that’s certain to come soon), so we’re careful to note that this mix is limited to those platforms that provide these “next-generation” sharing APIs, and how that explains the limited list of platforms.

Distribution of shared items
Facebook: 44%
Twitter: 29%

There are far more companies providing identities with which users can login to 3rd party websites, so that data looks different from sharing data, and also looks different by site type:

Share of Authentication By Platform:

News sites:

Facebook: 31%
Google: 30%
Yahoo: 25%
Twitter: 11%
AOL: 3%

Entertainment sites:
Facebook: 52%
Google: 17%
Yahoo: 12%
Twitter: 11%
MySpace: 7%
AOL: 1%

The data looks different for live event chat where, again, the platforms that enable syndication are the same as those for sharing, but where there is yet another distinct audience profile:

Live Event Chat:
Facebook: 56%
Twitter: 28%
Yahoo: 9%
MySpace: 7%

Mashable published an article by Gigya’s CEO Dave Yovanno, where he shares that although the above stats are averages across all types of sports, news and entertainment events, the mix was signficantly different for MTV’s live chat associated with the teen-targeted show “16 and Pregnant.”   For that show alone the mix was:

40% to Yahoo, 29% MySpace, 24% Facebook, and 7% Twitter.

The data we’ve seen published from other technology providers shows different mix profiles for commenting apps, as well as for the long tail of smaller sites using 3rd party authentication technologies.

So keep the data coming, but be sure to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

By Kevin White