Shareaholic Study: Most Social Referrals Came From YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn

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Shareaholic Study: Most Social Referrals Came From YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn

Shareaholic, developers of popular social sharing tools, recently published a study aimed to determine which social networks are driving the most engaged social referrals.

When a piece of content is shared to your followers, which network tends to engage with that content the most? I don’t mean clicking on the link, looking at it for a second, and moving on to something else. I mean actually engaging with it. That means clicking on the link and really absorbing the content, maybe even browsing through the site and reading a few more articles on it.

That’s the kind of engagement Shareaholic really tried to measure with their recent study. Which social networks are generating that kind of engagement? To answer that question, Shareaholic looked at the average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate for visitors referred to their network of sites from each of the top 8 social media platforms.

Source: Shareaholic

Source: Shareaholic

Shareaholic conducted this study by looking at 6 months of data (Sept’13 – Feb’14) across their network of 200,000+ sites reaching more than 250 million unique monthly visitors. Here are their findings.

Throughout the study, these were their most noteworthy findings:

YouTube is the overall winner.

YouTube drives the most engaged traffic. Referrals from YouTube have the lowest average bounce rate (43.19%), the most pages per visit (2.99) and the longest visit duration (227.82 seconds). Shareaholic’s study found video watchers are welcome to the idea of visiting links within video descriptions if they complement the YouTube video they just watched. Shareaholic also suggests since YouTube visitors are used to spending minutes, even hours, consuming content they don’t mind taking a bit of extra time to discover further content they have been linked to.

Google+ and LinkedIn drive the fewest social referrals, but bring in the best visitors.

On average, Google+ users spend upwards of 3 minutes consuming content shared by connections in their circles. In addition, Google+ users tend to visit 2.45 pages per visit, with a bounce rate of 50.63%. LinkedIn spend around 2 minutes and 13 seconds consuming content after clicking a link. On average, LinkedIn users viewing 2.23 pages per visit with a bounce rate of 51.28%. While sites see minimal traffic from both Google+ and LinkedIn, they’re still highly valuable if your goal is to have users actually engage with your content.

A referral from Twitter is as good as a referral from Facebook.

Twitter and Facebook are tied in 4th place when it comes to bounce rate, pages per visit and time on site. Twitter has a slight edge in the pages per visit category (2.15 vs 2.03), while Facebook has a slight edge when it come to time spent on site. Facebook users tend to spend more time on a site post-click than Twitter users do (127.44 seconds vs. 123.10).

Pinterest isn’t the social media golden child people say it is.

Pinterest came in at 6th place, with Shareaholic’s study showing Pinterest users bounce as often as Facebook and Twitter users do. With fewer pages per visit (1.71) and less time on site (64.67 seconds), Pinterest’s users are not nearly as engaged as users on rival networks.


Image Credit: ARENA Creative via Shutterstock

Reddit users are picky.

Reddit lays claim to the highest bounce rate of 70.16 percent, showing Redditors are the most likely to abandon sites  The typical behavior of a Reddit users is to be increasingly selective about the content that gets upvoted,  and all too eager to downvote things they disagree with. Shareaholic also suggests Reddit users hate marketing and marketing-related content.

StumbleUpon drives the least engagement.

StumbleUpon users view only 1.5 pages per visit and spend 54.09 seconds on site. Shareaholic’s study suggests StumbleUpon users quickly go onto the next thing rather than immerse themselves in the content they’re viewing.

What do you think about the results of this study? Which social networks drive the most engaged users to your site? Let me know in the comments section!

John Rampton
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, full-time computer nerd, and PPC expert. Founder at payments company I enjoy helping people and am always online to... Read Full Bio
John Rampton
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  • Scott @ Kawntent

    Very interesting review! I was already expecting YouTube or Google+ to come in first, but who knew that LinkedIn would come in 3rd place before Twitter and Facebook. This really has me thinking. Thank you for sharing John!

  • Brian Jackson

    Great post John! I love seeing stats ๐Ÿ™‚ However depending on the niche you are in these could be completely different. I do a lot in the medical field and we see FB usually being the highest referral source. Medical niche works a little different because they don’t necessarily ever go to YouTube to search for say “Back Pain.” However they might search for a medical practice on Google, and then bounce to their FB page to read more about them and see pictures… Also I have worked with some apparel clients where Pinterest was actually their biggest referral source. But in general I would agree that YouTube/Google+ are usually the biggest. Why? Well.. they are Google ๐Ÿ™‚

  • tom

    I agree with scott’s comment, Linkedin in 3rd place is a big suprise unlike Google+ 2nd. never really pushed Linkedin before, what an eye opener. Thanks for sharing.

  • Christian Habermann

    Wow, I’m very surprised by this and somewhat skeptical. Doesn’t make much sense that Google+ is higher than FB as I hardly ever see high engagement via G+ channel. I agree with Brian in that I think this study would be more useful if segmented by industry.

  • Martin Walsh

    Wow, what a very misleading post showing only half the story.

    Why, didn’t you provide the other critical graphic which goes hand in hand with this study about the actual amount of traffic being referred by Google+? Google+ provides just 0.05% of Social Media Traffic Referrals in Dec 2013 (same study period).

    As they say, “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”!

  • jasonwaite3

    Dude. This post kicks ass. I’m sharing it with out real estate marketing department NOW.

    Thanks SEO Journal and John.

  • Lisa Webb

    Wow, that is rather eye opening. FB not quite the golden child everyone hails it as.