Study Reports 20% of Overall Traffic Comes From Facebook and Pinterest

A new report released by my company, Shareaholic, a content discovery and sharing platform used by 200,000+ websites around the globe, revealed Facebook and Pinterest collectively referred one-fifth of all visitors to sites across the web last month.

The study was intended to observe how much traffic the eight largest social media platforms referred to Shareaholic’s growing network of sites and highlighted Facebook, Pinterest, and StumbleUpon as the biggest winners in Q4 2013 due to their relatively strong growth in “share of visits” (a percentage of overall traffic — direct traffic, social referrals, organic search, paid search, etc. — sites received).

The most interesting finding from the data (pictured below) is growth experienced by Facebook and Pinterest.

Image credit: Used with permission.

Last month, Facebook drove more than 15 percent of overall visits sites received. Pinterest’s share was surprisingly close to five percent. For a site that’s not yet four years old, Pinterest is a force to be reckoned with. The pair, together, drove more than 20 percent of overall visits to sites. One might say that — among social media platforms — Facebook is king, while Pinterest is queen (even though Pinterest is still an excellent platform for men).

Essentially, what’s happening is:

  • Facebook has been killing it, in part thanks to increased mobile activity.
  • Pinterest’s growth in share of visits is notable simply because it is one of the newest social networks to swing in the big leagues.
  • Twitter maintains its position as the third largest referrer of social traffic.
  • StumbleUpon may soon enough rival Twitter for third place. Of course, only time will tell.
  • Reddit and YouTube saw relatively large dips in share of traffic.
  • LinkedIn and Google+ are now tied for seventh — basically last — place.

What does this mean for digital marketers?

In general, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are the most promising sources of social traffic. But not all marketing strategies are the same (nor should they be). Some marketers, such as Mike Allton, derive most of their traffic from Google+, while others see tremendous value from LinkedIn. Whether you’re a blog, brand or business, you really need to go wherever your target audience is.

Also, be ready to adapt at any moment and do not heavily rely on one source for the majority of your traffic. Plenty of virality mills have been hit due to tweaks in Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. Since a large majority of their traffic came from clicks on Facebook, many of their expected page views virtually disappeared overnight. Smart marketers know to grow traffic from their best channels, while experimenting with others to discover more reliable sources of traffic.

Finally, here we’ve plotted the points on a line graph to show how each social network’s share of visits has changed since September.

Image credit: Used with permission.

Does any of this surprise you? Let us know in the comments!