According to a report released this week by content marketing hub Shareaholic, social media is now the #1 driver of all website referral traffic. As of December 2014, 31.24% of all referral traffic was from social media; compare this to the 22.71% from the same period in the previous year.
While this is great news for marketers who are investing heavily in social media marketing, are these numbers sustainable?
Looking at the graph below, we see a relatively steady downward progression in referrals from search (i.e. SEO), while social referrals appear have been somewhat unstable over the last half of 2014 (and actually rose above SEO referrals once before, in June).
In any case, there’s no question that social referrals are an extremely important source of traffic for most websites. The report goes a step further and breaks down the share of traffic for each social network, showing the changes over the entire 2014 calendar year. The results may surprise you: Facebook continued to lead the pack in 2014 coming in with total traffic share of 16-25% month after month. Perhaps the most surprising finding, however, was the overall growth of Facebook’s traffic share over the year: 59.58% from December 2013 to December 2014.
Interesting stats for other networks were as follows:
- Pinterest was the only other site that saw an increase from the previous year, with a modest 5.82% increase in traffic share.
- Twitter’s traffic share decreased by 27.03%
- StumbleUpon’s share dropped by 42.17%
- Perhaps most surprisingly, YouTube’s share of referrals dropped a whopping 93.24% from the previous year.
If we look at social media referral traffic on a broader scale – going back to 2011 – the trend becomes quite clear. Take a look:
We can see Facebook in a clear upward trend, with Pinterest increasing until March 2014, after which time it appears to be experiencing a slight decline. The remaining 6 networks show a remarkably steady traffic share over the 3-year period.
The report suggests that it may be time for Pinterest to rethink its target market if its going to experience growth in the coming year: “Principal Analyst at Forrester, Nate Elliott, calls Pinterest a condundrum. Elliot says, “Pinterest is confusing. It’s a bundle of contradictions: at once it offers marketers huge potential and huge frustration.” Select brands recognize its commercial value and have invested big dollars on ‘Pinfluencers’. But the platform has yet to realize its full potential. To do so, it needs to quickly shed its isolating for-women-only image and develop more mass-market appeal.”
Given these findings, you may be wondering how best to drive social traffic to your own website or blog. Given Facebook’s value as the #1 driver of referral traffic over the past 3 years, here are some strategies you can use to help drive your Facebook traffic to your website or blog.
Provide short quotes from your blog posts
When posting links to blog posts, be sure to include a brief quote or excerpt. Let your fans know what to expect when they click on the link. Choose a portion of text that not only summarizes the topic of the post, but that will entice your fans to click through to read more.
Your images matter
When sharing images, ensure that they’re the optimal size for your timeline as well as for your fans’ newsfeeds. The recommended size for your shared photos varies depending who you ask; but generally speaking, an image of around 1200×630 is ideal. This is true for regular images as well as for images attached to links (for instance, when you share a blog post).
Share at the optimal times
Through a careful analysis of your Facebook Insights you should be able to tell when your fans are more active and engaged. A free tool like LikeAlyzer can also help you determine the best times to share links with your fans.
Make the most of Facebook links
Be sure to include links back to your site in all the places that matter – in your About page, photo descriptions, comments (where relevant), personal profile’s About section, and in your milestones.
Use Facebook ads
Given the drop in organic post reach over the past few years, utilizing Facebook ads to drive traffic to your site may be a good way to supplement your current strategies. You may also want to try out Facebook retargeting to drive website visitors from the past month or so back to your site.
If you’re currently using Pinterest as part of your marketing strategy, here are some additional strategies to try:
Make sure you pin your blog posts
I don’t recommend creating a board specifically for your blog posts. Instead, create topical boards based on keywords Pinterest users may be searching for. For instance, create a board named “Chicken recipes”, and then pin your best chicken recipe posts (along with other people’s) to this board.
Make sure you have a Pinterest-worthy image for every blog post
Even if you have no intention of using Pinterest for your marketing, your visitors may have other ideas. Make sure your blog post images are as pinnable as possible by using attractive, eye-catching images, by providing some context to the blog post (e.g. the blog post title) and by including a watermark with your website URL.
Include a pin it button on each blog post and image
Having a site-wide pin it button isn’t enough. Make sure your website visitors have easy access to a button next to every single image on your site. The more often your images are pinned, the more reach they’ll receive on Pinterest. And the more reach they receive, the more traffic they’ll drive back to your site.
It will be interesting to see what happens to referral traffic share in this first quarter of 2015. It’s clear that Facebook will continue to dominate, but will Pinterest continue its downward trend? Will we see Twitter start to increase its share of overall referral traffic? Only time will tell.
This article was written by Jayson DeMers from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
Originally published on Feb 3, 2015 7:51 PM