maze path referral trafficDuring the fourth quarter of 2013, Facebook drove more than twice as much referral traffic to websites than seven other social media sites combined (Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+).

That statistic comes from Shareaholic’s Social Media Traffic Report, which analyzed data from over 200,000 websites from its network which reach a total of more than 250 million unique visitors per month.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a new finding. Facebook was also significantly in the lead in Shareaholic’s third quarter 2013 analysis. In fact, Facebook continues to extend its lead with its share of social media traffic referrals increasing by 30.06% during the fourth quarter of 2014.

However, Facebook wasn’t the social media site with the biggest increase in share of social media referral traffic during the final quarter of 2013. The top spot for share growth went to StumbleUpon with 54.36% growth. Pinterest also experienced share growth (30.06%) as did Google+ (18.98%). On the other end of the spectrum, share losers were YouTube (down 34.97%), LinkedIn (down 26.96%), Reddit (down 17.63%), and Twitter (down 4.31%).

These growth rates need to be viewed in perspective though. Given how much more social media traffic referrals Facebook drives than the other sixn social media sites included in this study, the share growth rates of those six sites have very little effect on Facebook’s share. Instead, the battle for second place is a hotter topic.

Take a look at the share of social media traffic referrals tracked by Shareaholic during December of 2013, and see for yourself. Facebook’s dominance is staggering.

  • Facebook = 15.44%
  • Pinterest = 4.79%
  • Twitter = 1.12%
  • StumbleUpon = 0.86%
  • Reddit = 0.21%
  • YouTube = 0.19%
  • LinkedIn = 0.05%
  • Google+ = 0.05%

What Authoritative Content Publishers Need to Know

Authoritative Content publishers need to understand where referral traffic to their content is coming from. Between November 2012 and November 2013, social media referral traffic increased by 111% while search engine referral traffic dropped by 6%. The gap between search engine traffic and social media traffic is closing as online users shift how they find, consume, and interact with content.

The once insurmountable gap between search engine referrals and all other referrals is getting smaller every day. Prioritize increasing social media referral traffic to your content today, and you’ll reap the rewards in the future.

Image: Steven Goodwin