WordPress.com is finally adding sharing buttons for some of the world’s most widely used messaging apps. Users can now add WhatsApp, Telegram, and Skype to the lineup by editing the sharing buttons for their sites.
Private groups and messaging are rapidly overtaking social networking. This was the driving factor behind Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion, an acquisition that lodged the company even deeper into its users’ pocket communications. The app now has more than a billion users, which you would be foolish to ignore when presenting options for sharing your posts.
As of February 2016, Telegram reported 100 million monthly active users, with 350,000 new users signing up every day. The app delivers 15 billion messages daily. Skype has an estimated 300 million users.
These “Dark Social” streams of traffic, which cannot be tracked by traditional analytics, are now dominating social sharing. This includes sources like emails, instant messages, and forum posts. According to a research poll of 9,000+ consumers conducted by RadiumOne, dark social sharing accounts for 69% of all sharing worldwide. That percentage is even higher in Europe and Australia.
The survey also found that 32% of people who share content online will only share via dark social channels. This type of direct sharing to friends, family, and colleagues often carries more weight than tweets or Facebook posts broadcasted to the masses.
Most messaging apps are not limited to one-to-one sharing; users often share to large groups curated for a specific purpose or interest, such as poker buddies, mom friends, extended family, or work friends. The ability for users to easily share blog posts or even e-commerce products to dark social channels is crucial for exposure to these networks that are not diluted by algorithms and advertising.
With user bases in the hundreds of millions to billions, messaging applications are channels that publishers can no longer afford to ignore. Hopefully the team at Automattic will prioritize making these buttons available to Jetpack users on self-hosted sites in the near future. Until then, you can add WhatsApp and Telegram sharing buttons to Jetpack using a couple of existing plugins created by Brazilian WordPress developer Valerio Souza.
If everyone were to agree on a universal messaging app we could reduce the number of sharing buttons that clutter the ends of posts. Since that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, now might be a good time to find out what apps your readers are using so you can reevaluate your lineup of sharing buttons for additions and/or removals.