Blog Post

AddThis Gets Smart(er)

AddThis logoWhich do you prefer as a tool to let your visitors share your content with others: AddThis or ShareThis? What were the criteria you used to come to your decision on which one to use? Here are a few things you should consider when deciding which content-sharing app to use:

  1. Ease of integration — Is it easy enough for you to embed the widget code into your web site or blog so you can offer sharing functionality to your readers?
  2. Ease of use/performance — Is it easy and fast for your readers to share your content with others via multiple options such as email, their favorite social networks and microblogs?
  3. Analytics — Does it offer you robust insight into the sharing activity on your site or blog?

Having been a longtime user, I can tell you that my initial response to the above questions about the ShareThis service would be “yes” on No. 1 and No. 2, and “sort of” on No. 3. But then I learned about the changes to the AddThis service, and I think that it may win me over as a customer. Here’s why.

At the time I started using ShareThis, AddThis was an underfunded tech startup that looked more ad hoc than professional. I was swayed by ShareThis’ polish when it entered the content sharing space. Today, AddThis gets the added professional muscle of Clearspring, a tools and platform sharing company; this acquisition bodes well for the AddThis application.

AddThis is a community-driven platform with the goal of letting people “share anything to anyone anywhere.” It no longer limits visitors to sharing content only to a small hand-picked list of sites. It now wants to be a “switchboard for the web,” which means that the providers and networks that show up when your visitors click on the AddThis button are dynamic and flexible.

The new AddThis menu is a “smart menu.” If you are visiting sites using AddThis, you’ll get tagged with cookies that the AddThis application can read at the next AddThis-powered site you visit so it gets to know you and makes a note of your network preferences. So if you tend to share content mostly on Evernote and Posterous, instead of Facebook and Twitter, AddThis will now customize the menu you see to see your most frequently used networks instead of a pre-selected hierarchy of services.

Another smart aspect to the newly enhanced AddThis service is the ability for any social network to get added to a vast and growing list of potential places where visitors can distribute content to, which makes AddThis more open. Users can also recommend additional services; AddThis will then contact those services to get listed in the directory.

image005AddThis believes these enhancements to the application are good for the user and good for the publisher. As a content publisher, I see its point. As a user, I like the idea of a smarter menu so I don’t have to sift through additional screens to find my favorite sharing forums. And smaller service providers can also benefit by not being automatically relegated to the “last screen” of a sharing menu.

Another addition to the new and improved AddThis is translation of the tool into 50 languages.

Some other benefits of using AddThis over ShareThis include pure market share. The company says that according to Comscore, AddThis has about three times the reach of ShareThis in terms of sheer unique users.

On the analytics front, the company says it has the competitive horsepower to crush the competition over time. I’ve just signed up for an AddThis account to start testing it out; analytics are a big deal to my company, so we’ll see how that measures up over time.

So which one do you use? AddThis or ShareThis? And why?

9 Responses to “AddThis Gets Smart(er)”

  1. I always wonder about the Big Brother-ish feel of some cookied applications but I often weigh convenience and usefulness over the “fear of being stalked by marketers.”

    By the way, does anyone know if Macs are vulnerable to Spyware? I don’t think I’ve ever seen any evidence of it. Cookies, sure, but invasive spyware? Anyone know?

    • Agreed! You shouldn’t trust Addthis. Their Flash cookie makes it easy for them to spy and track on the 500 million or however many users come across their widgets. And last time I looked at Sharethis it had poor password management. My advice is to forget these companies, and quit running arbitrary code on your sites that’s out of your control. Use a sharing script that’s both free and free from spyware-on-the-web. Ever wonder why they’re free? Think about it. Steer clear!

  2. I have been using sharethis on my page until I read this post. However it wasn’t anything in the post that made me change, but rather that I found out that add this has a “print” function, while share this doesn’t.

    I still miss a “translate and share” function though…

  3. I use AddThis because their widget is easier for users to use and for me to customize. ShareThis tries to jam too much stuff into their popup window, making it hard to use. ST also sometimes has bad display lags when it tries to get the ui from the ST servers.