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The prevalence of sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have taken the social sharing phenomenon to new heights. Once primarily found on websites, they have recently made their way to the email platform in the form of a simple button that lets recipients share content with a convenient click.

Market reports show social sharing buttons outperform the forward-to-a-friend function marketers used to know and love.

Importance By the Numbers

Sharing email content with the social networks is a relatively new concept, but it is one that has taken off fast. A survey conducted by email service provider Silver Pop shows that the feature is a big hit with consumers. According to the company's findings, recipients used social sharing buttons 5 times more than forward-to-a-friend. The firm concluded that based on the overall click through rate, these buttons accounted for 1 in 10 of email clicks.

Silver Pop is not the only service provider to come up with numbers highlighting the growing importance of this concept. Email marketing firm Get Response published a report showing that social sharing buttons increased click through rates by an astounding 55%.

The true power of this feature can be further witnessed in numbers related to the major players in the social media realm. Take a look at Facebook and Twitter, for example. Facebook currently has well over 500 million active users across the globe while Twitter users post an estimated 55 million tweets in a day alone. Each network has a massive following and their users serve as potential evangelists for numerous brands that utilize email marketing to communicate with their audiences. Just imagine the viral impact your message could make if even a small fraction of your audience shared your content with the hundreds of friends in their network.

A Viable Replacement?

Even though they are quite effective, marketers should not sell forward-to-friend short or abandon their current strategy, especially if it is still working. The intimacy of this feature and focused targeting that has great potential to generate responses means it still has tremendous value. Both have their upsides, so in the end, it is all about what is the most effective for your marketing efforts.