Referral traffic from Facebook is rapidly increasing, to the extent that as of March, the social network referred more than one-fifth (21.3%) of traffic to the average website, according to the latest social media referral report from Shareaholic. The results show the extent to which Facebook dominates all social platforms as a traffic driver, referring three times as much as its nearest competitor, Pinterest (7.1%), which itself is growing quickly. Twitter, meanwhile, referred only about 1.1% of publishers’ traffic in March, rivaled by StumbleUpon (0.99%).
Not all referrals are created equal, though, as a recent study from Shareaholic determined. Visitors referred from Facebook and Twitter were middle of the road in terms of their engagement with the websites they visited, while visitors referred by StumbleUpon had the lowest average time on site and average pages per visit of the 8 social referrers measured.
The social platforms sending the most engaged referral traffic – YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn – continue to be fractional players. Combined they accounted for only 0.21% of the average publisher’s traffic in March, about 100 times less than Facebook.
Shareaholic’s results are derived from data collected from more than 300,000 websites which reach more than 400 million unique visitors each month.
A separate study [pdf] from Adobe – limited to data from retail, media and entertainment, and travel websites – similarly finds that Facebook is the leading referrer, though its influence (not surprisingly) varies by site type. As such, while Facebook accounted for three-quarters of social traffic to retail websites during Q1 2014, its share of social referrals to B2B high tech sites was a smaller, though still leading, 52%. LinkedIn has a much greater presence, as expected, for B2B high tech sites, accounting for 15% of social traffic to these destinations.
Shareaholic says that its participating publisher sites are spread across dozens of different head categories, including food, tech, design, marketing, general news, and many more. Previously, it has noted that social is closing the gap with search as a traffic driver to its network of sites, though that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case in the e-commerce sector.