There was a point in time when social media consisted of one or two major sites and little more. When MySpace and Facebook were the only players on the field, it was easy for people to pick a side and support their preferred platform. As social media marketing has grown exponentially in recent years, that growth has been mirrored by the rise of more social media options for consumers and businesses.
Today, users have the option of logging on to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn, or going in depth on platforms like Reddit. With so many options out there for webmasters and businesses to take advantage of, which social media network offers access to the greatest potential for website traffic?
Questions to Ask Yourself
Before you decide on a social media network to get heavily involved with, take the time to ask yourself a few questions to help determine which network offers the greatest upside. KISSMetrics offers up four helpful questions you should contemplate to help formulate your social media strategy:
- Where is my audience? Determine which site, or sites, your target audience is using with the greatest frequency. Realize that some sites boast a lot of users, but many of those accounts are inactive or altogether fake.
- Where is my audience active? Google+ and Twitter have a lot of users, but only a portion of those users are active on a monthly basis.
- Where does my audience search? Social media networks now boast their own in-house search platforms or connections to Google, Bing, and others. Users actually conduct searches through these engines too, making it a valuable factor to consider.
- Is there a niche site for my business? Sometimes a niche site is more important than activity on the biggest websites. Facebook may be the largest social media site, but what if a smaller niche site offers better quality in terms of leads? That niche site might deliver greater value to your business.
Which Platforms Lead the Way?
Shareaholic took an in-depth look at the traffic performance of the top eight social media sites for Q3 2014, and the results shouldn’t come as any surprise. With over a billion users and a lot of capital to back its activities, Facebook came out at the top of the pack as the number-one service generating traffic for sites.
The analysis by Shareaholic looked at share of visits by comparing direct traffic, social referrals, organic search, and paid search for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn. The results were anything but shocking as it was discovered that Facebook generated almost 25% of all site visits around the web. The information for the top three looked like this:
- Facebook: 23.39% share of visits in June 2014, down 4.41% from Q3 2013.
- Pinterest: 5.72% share of visits in June 2014, down 3.53% from Q3 2013.
- Twitter: 1.03% share of visits in June 2014, down 14.24% from Q3 2013.
Only two of the top eight social media networks showed growth in Q3 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. Google+ experienced a growth of 9.52% from 2013, while LinkedIn was up an astonishing 113.43%. However, neither network was anywhere near the top of the list, and both failed to crack 1% with share of visits for both at .06% and .02% (Google+/LinkedIn).
There are a few interesting facts to focus on from the Shareaholic study. For starters, Facebook’s supremacy is unquestioned, for now. Compared to its nearest competition, Pinterest, Facebook is generating four times the traffic to external sites. For any business, Facebook represents a potential gold mine of audience data and content distribution. On the user’s end, Facebook provides personalized windows into products, services, and topics that they actually care about and want to engage with.
With that said, Pinterest is gaining traction and may start cutting into Facebook’s lead in the coming months and years. Pinterest is particularly popular among American women and boasts 70 million users. Despite its smaller scale and user base compared to Facebook, Pinterest is second in generating traffic. Pinterest is growing quickly, boosting its share of traffic 48% between December 2014 and the end of Q1 2014.
The most shocking is the plummeting impact of Twitter. The service is far from done and dusted, but Twitter’s impact is fading and the traffic it is generating for sites is tumbling along with it. Its share of visits has fallen 24.97% from September 2013 to September 2014.
The Best Approach
In all reality, you would be foolish to rely upon one social media platform to generate traffic from your website. If you want to take advantage of traffic generation on social media, the best approach you can take is a multipronged one. It is a good idea, but not required, to join the big four social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+).
At the same time, you cannot restrict yourself to just the major platforms. You should give strong consideration to using some of the platforms that exist just outside of the big four, most notably LinkedIn and YouTube. LinkedIn is particularly useful if your product or service is targeted at business professionals. YouTube is an excellent option for businesses that routinely generate quality, interactive media. For example, if you rely on how-to videos and walkthroughs to promote your products and services, YouTube is a great way to engage customers and generate traffic for your site.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to take a chance on some of the smaller or niche platforms like StumbleUpon or Reddit. StumbleUpon is one of the smallest platforms out there, but it made impressive gains in 2014 in terms of share of visits generated. Reddit is a favorite among those loyal to particular brands, services, products, or industries. The platform offers you the chance to establish your brand as an authority in your field and reach high value consumers that already believe in your product or service.