The biggest benefit social media marketing has for SEO is referral traffic. According to data from the fourth quarter of 2013, more than 22 percent of web traffic comes from social media. However, as one can probably guess, not all of that traffic comes from all networks equally. To illustrate, more users are referred by Facebook than by Reddit. New research from Shareaholics gives marketers another dimension for marketers to consider. The report shows which social networks bring in the most engaged users with each referral. This post will explain some of the more exciting results and what it means for social media marketers.
The research center on post-click engagement by users. Most reports on social media referrals simply count the number of clicks, but Shareaholic sought to found out what people did after they clicked. They examined a half year’s worth of data (September 2013 through February 2014) across their network of 200,000 plus sites and more than 250 million unique monthly visitors “to get a sense of which social network drives the most engaged visitors”. They then tracked the average amount of time spent on the linked site; the average number of pages viewed each visit, and the average bounce rate.
The biggest surprise for many social media marketers is that using the criteria the study, LinkedIn and Google+ are better referrers than Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Users referred by Google+ spent an average of 188 seconds on a site and viewed 2.45 pages. LinkedIn referred users spent 133 seconds on the linked site and viewed 2.23 pages. In both cases, these metrics outperform those of Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter who traditionally have higher amounts of traffic. The difference in bounce rates is also worth noting. Google+ (50.63 percent) and LinkedIn (51.28 percent) have bounce rates that are 10 percent lower than Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Another shocking result is how well YouTube did. The traffic referred by the video-sharing platform easily beats every other social network researched by the study. YouTube had a bounce rate of 43.19 percent (the only social network below 50 percent in the study); viewers spent nearly four minutes (227 seconds) on each site and clicked on three (2.99) pages for each average visit. The fact that YouTube traffic is so engaged comes from the nature of the platform. Since most videos contain a lot of information, if someone felt the need to click a link to get more information, they are probably ready to invest more time than people quickly looking at content on Facebook or Twitter.
The Shareaholic report was a mixed bag for Pinterest. One the one hand, it showed itself as useful as Twitter and Facebook on the bounce rate, which means that people are finding the links relevant. However, Pinterest had an extremely short average time on the linked site and average number of pages visited. Pinterest-referred visitors barely spent over a minute (64.56 seconds) on the linked site and only viewed 1.7 pages. This may also be an effect of the image-sharing platform’s nature. People who click from Pinterest links may be searching for similar images, and may leave quickly after they see all that can be seen on the site that interests them.
Though Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter didn’t do spectacularly in this report, it’s important to note that they still account for the lion’s share of traffic from social networks. In the fourth quarter data, Facebook accounted for 15 percent of all web referral traffic, Pinterest accounted for about 5 percent and Twitter took 1 percent. Even if the traffic referred from these sources are slightly less engaged than other social referrals, they are still audiences worth trying to reach.
This report should remind marketers to diversify their social media strategy by using multiple social media networks. Also, that the type of content posted to social media affects the way people react when they reach the site. Clearly, YouTube videos have a way of making people hungry for more when they click on links that marketers should take note of. Finding ways to post informative and engaging social media content can greatly increase the amount and the quality of traffic a website receives.