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What is AddThis?

AddThis is a social sharing tool that appears on a lot of websites. It is owned and operated by Clearspring Technologies.

AddThis,AddThis review

Hooman Radfar, founder and executive chairman of Clearspring, describes the technology as the "largest social sharing and analytic platform on the web", whose goal is to "increase traffic and social engagement".

It is often displayed as a "share" button that expands to show a vast array of sharing options.

What information does AddThis track?

AddThis,AddThis review

AddThis collects personal information in the form of an email address when you request the service to share via email. AddThis uses the email address provided, but it is not stored. The person with whom you share the site will see your email address but otherwise it is not shared with third parties and not merged with any non-personal information.

It also collects non-personal information in the form of web analytics, which they share in aggregated form. Cookies and web beacons collect information but do not track the individual user. AddThis says its servers log:

- your internet protocol (IP) address.
- browser type.
- browser language.
- the date and time you visited that web page.
- if you came to a web page where an AddThis Button is enabled via a search - engine such as Google, the web search that landed you on that web page.

The servers also collect information on how often you share content with others using the AddThis platform. In particular, AddThis logs the share options and the subsequent numbers of clicks a shared link gets. The information collected in this way is anonymous and aggregated

This is aggregated and analysed so that users are categorised into various audience types. Publishers are provided with information on the type of audience that accesses their sites and advertisers can use this information to choose where to advertise. The cookie gives each browser on a user's computer its audience label so that the right sharing tools and targeted ads will appear on the sites with the AddThis plugin installed.

Is the data sold to third parties?

AddThis,AddThis review

AddThis shares only non-personally identifiable information with the website publishers who have the AddThis Button enabled on their websites for the purpose of analytics. It provides statistics on sharing trends, and the top content segments shared so that publishers can understand how users share their content and advertisers can better target their ads.

It may share any information with third parties if it has "a good faith belief that disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary" to:

- satisfy applicable law, regulation, legal process or an enforceable governmental request.
- enforce the applicable terms of service, including investigation of potential violations thereof.
- detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues.
- protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Clearspring, its end - users or the public as required or permitted by law.

It shares non-personally identifiable aggregated information with third parties without restriction.

Is the data ever matched to personally identifiable information?

The personal and non-personal information are never matched, says AddThis.

How long is the data stored by AddThis?

This information is stored for between 0 and 14 days depending on how often cookies are flushed from the browser. It is then aggregated and analysed into 'audiences' and these categories are made available to the publishers and advertisers.

Additional information

AddThis has variants to the information collected and terms of sharing depending on whether you log in to its site directly or use its toolbar.

It has an opt-out option, which drops a cookie so you would have to disable cookie blockers and not delete your cookies to permanently have this option enabled.

Radfar says "cookies are the ultimate anonymous experience" whereas "logging in and filling in your personal details "is far more revealing on a very personal level."

HOW DOES IT WORK?

There are 3 types of features that you can use out of this software;

  • Social Sharing and Following
  • Audience Targeting
  • Content Recommendation

In the following tutorial, I am going to show you how each of them work.

1) SOCIAL SHARING

AddThis,AddThis review

With this feature, you can select different types of social sharing buttons and even make them responsive. I’ve always wanted something more visible than the current one that I am using and I am glad that AddThis offers the sharing sidebar.

First, you have to choose the template and set up according to your needs. Within the settings, you can opt for the sidebar to appear on the left or the right and select the social networks that you want to appear on the website.

Next, click to activate and a set of codes will be auto-generated for you to embed in the HTML of your website. If you are using WordPress, this can be found at Appearance > Editor > footer.php. You want to look for the code that says </body> and embed the entire auto-generated code before that 

Then, go back to the front end of your website and you will be able to see the sharing buttons on the sidebar. If you prefer not to deal with codes, you can also install the feature with a WordPress plugin as shown in this video. 

2) FOLLOW BUTTONS

For the follow buttons, you can choose to have it horizontal, vertical or even customize the designs. After setting up your social profile links to each button, you just need to activate and grab the new auto-generated code and embed in your website, just like the previous step.  

What I like about both the social sharing and the follow buttons is that the feature ‘sticks’ with the direction of the readers. Which means, whenever the readers scroll down or up the website, these buttons follow along as well, acting like a gentle reminder for people to take action.

3) TARGETING

AddThis,AddThis review

The targeting tool is a great feature to promote a link, collect emails or enhance your social sharing. You can target an audience based on where they are coming from or what device they are using. The call-to-action can be positioned at any part of the website which you think can attract the reader’s attention.

For example, I used this feature to promote my main product review and I’ve created a link to lead readers to that particular page. After tweaking the settings, I just need to save, activate and again, embed the code for the call-to-action to appear on my website.

4) RECOMMENDED CONTENT

In this feature, AddThis will automatically display some of your blog posts based on the relevancy of the content. You can control the layout, how many content to recommend and even set a specific URL for better targeting effect.

The installation process for this feature is exactly the same as the others.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

AddThis comes with 3 types of pricing plan; Free, Pro and Business

AddThis

SO, IS ADD THIS WORTHY OF YOUR TIME?

Honestly, I am surprised that I didn’t discover this smart tool much earlier. After using it for a while, I find that it’s totally worthy of my time because;

  • I was able to avoid adding 3 additional plugins for different social functions on my blog (an advantage when you learn how to use codes instead of plugins)
  • Installing the codes is very easy and it only took me a few minutes.
  • Now, my site looks sleeker and readers can easily see what I want them to do.

So, if you think your site could use more reader’s engagement, this is a tool that you can certainly try at no cost. As with everything else on the web, remember to backup a copy for your site before you add any new feature.

I hope this AddThis.com review has given you something interesting to think about for your own social sharing. If you have any thoughts or questions about this topic, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

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