Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Which Social Platform Really Drives the Most Traffic?

In preparing for our morning show we were doing some research and came across an old story that showed that StumbleUpon was actually driving more traffic than Facebook in January of 2011 and we wondered two things about that - firstly, is it still true, and secondly what would that mean for internet marketing and social media experts who stake their companies social media results on traffic from just Facebook and Twitter?
So we went back to the source of the original data, StatCounter.com for an update for the last 12 months:
Social Media Traffic Trends 2012
Social Media Traffic Trends 2012

StatCounter Global Stats - Social Media Market Share

In this graph it clearly shows that Facebook has regained domination for traffic driving over StumbleUpon, in fact, StumbleUpon seems to have dropped off quite dramatically this past year, but despite that fact, it still comes in as the number two traffic driver in social media well ahead of Twitter and edging out both Youtube and Pinterest. With the tremendous buzz that Pinterest has been generating over the past few months and the fact that it was recently recognized that Pinterest drives up to 4x as much retail buying traffic as Facebook, the fact that StumbleUpon still drives more traffic than Pinterest is a big deal.

Then you look to YouTube, arguably the world's largest search engine, and it comes inbelow StumbleUpon as well, but just a hair ahead of Pinterest for the third place spot in real traffic driving among the major social media.

In fifth place, then, we have a big drop to Reddit that has managed a slow but fairly steady climb up in the ranks of both traffic driving and credibility among major social media. And now dropping to 6th place is Twitter. Digg seems to be producing consistent if sub-par results compared to the sum of other networks, but is still a player in the market as a standalone service.

But the big surprise is how much traffic businesses that are only concentrating on FaceBook and Twitter are missing out on.
Considering that the volume of traffic on Twitter empowered things like The Arab Spring, since Reddit now has surpassed it for traffic generation, businesses, governments, and organizations that ignore it do so at their peril.
And that really is true of all of these top 7 social networks - they each have tremendous influence over huge numbers of highly engaged users, and this graph clearly shows what some of us have been saying all along, which is unless you are paying attention to more than Facebook and Twitter, your social media strategy is horrifically flawed.
StumbleUpon in 2011 was far more powerful at driving traffic than Facebook, now Facebook is the more powerful of the two, but those roles can reverse again just as quickly as users change their minds about where they want to spend their time. With Facebook's recent stock declines and underperforming advertising revenues, it would not be surprising to see StumbleUpon or any of the others leap up and wrestle the number one spot away from Facebook again next year, so basing your strategy on the thought that Facebook is King might not be the best idea for managing your overall social media brand.
That's not to say I think Facebook is going away, but these year-on-year statistics prove you can't count on any one social network to be your 'silver bullet' for social media traffic generation any more, and you truly need a much broader social media strategy that recognizes that social traffic is social and behaves in social patterns. It's a little fickle and moves sometimes in very sudden and powerful directions and any business that is looking to engage them needs to be engaged where they are, not the other way around.