Social software company Shareaholic argues that the shift from search to social is here with the release of a new set of data that reveals social media referral traffic is up 22.71% from this time last year.
In total, in December 2014 top 8 social networks drove 31.24% of overall traffic to web sites. These networks include Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Shareaholic’s Q4 Social Media Traffic Report, released today, includes a year-over-year as well as a 3-year trend analysis. The report is full of of stats that illustrate social media’s role as a traffic driver over the past several years.
Here are some more highlights from the report, the following stats are comparing data from 2011 to data from 2014.
Facebook’s share of traffic grew 277.26% (from 6.53% to 24.63%). Americans are also spending considerably more time on Facebook, from 15.5 minutes per day in 2011 to 42.1 minutes per day in 2014.
Pinterest’s share grew 684.86% (from 0.65% to 5.06%). However, Pinterest’s growth has hit a plateau — to continue growing its user base the report suggests the social network needs to “shed its isolating for-women-only image” and develop more mass-market appeal.
All six remaining social networks (Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, G+, LinkedIn, YouTube) saw their shares decline, making up less than 2% of web traffic. YouTube was decimated, losing 94.76% of its share (from 0.24% down to 0.01%). The report suggests that Facebook’s auto-play videos have led to YouTube’s sharp decline of referral traffic.
As for traffic from the other social networks, that’s on the decline as well. Since 2011, Google+ and LinkedIn have both lost one third of their share of referral traffic, Reddit’s share is down by half, and Twitter’s share has roughly stayed the same.
Here’s a chart of each network’s share of referral traffic over the past three years — you can see Facebook killing it, Pinterest rising and then flattening out, and all other networks hovering around the same place.
Thinking back to the argument I mentioned at the beginning of the post, it’s difficult to say the switch from search to social is here when referral traffic from all social networks (except for Facebook) is steadily declining. Is the switch from search to Facebook here? I doubt that’s what these stats indicate either.
Search is a utility, helping people find things they need, it’s never going to go anywhere. Due to the increasing amount of time people spend on Facebook each day it’s naturally going to lead to more links getting clicked/shared, and more traffic being driven to other sites.
One thing that’s for sure is traffic from Facebook is booming, so if you’re looking for alternative sources of traffic, that’s where your time and resources would be well spent.