Danny Wong

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The fact is, many of us spend an egregious amount of time using social media (sharing tweets, commenting on FB posts, etc.). We lose ourselves in our ever updating feeds. The more curious among us even try to quantify the hours and minutes spent on social networking each day. But I’ve often wondered: What is our behavior post-click, when we actually interact with a link one of our friends shared socially?

To answer that question, we looked at the average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate for visitors referred to our network of sites from each of the top 8 social media platforms.

Welcome to the first edition of Shareaholic’s “Social Referrals That Matter” Report.

In this study, we looked at 6 months of data (Sept’13 – Feb’14) across our network of 200,000+ sites reaching more than 250 million unique monthly visitors to get a sense of which social network drives the most engaged visitors.

Social Referrals That Matter March 2014

The above findings are represented as average values over the last 6 months for their respective categories: Time on Site, Pages / Visit and Bounce Rate.

Here are six noteworthy findings:

  1. YouTube is the undisputed champion. YT drives the most engaged traffic. These referrals have the lowest average bounce rate (43.19%), the highest pages per visit (2.99) and the longest visit duration (227.82 seconds). Why are visitors from YouTube so engaged? …because video itself is so engaging and viewers are likely to maintain a similar level of engagement with related content. Therefore, video watchers are especially receptive to links within video descriptions which complement the audio+visual content they just consumed. Another reason YouTube takes home the crown is because viewers are simply used to spending minutes — perhaps, hours — educating and entertaining themselves with awesome video and may have fewer qualms about taking extra time to discover more great content post-click.
  2. Although Google+ and LinkedIn drive the fewest social referrals, they bring in some of the best visitors. Google+ users, on average, find themselves spending north of 3 minutes diving into things shared by connections in their circles. They also visit 2.45 pages during each visit, and bounce only 50.63% of the time. LinkedIn users generally spend 2 minutes and 13 seconds on each link they click, viewing 2.23 pages with each visit and bouncing 51.28% of the time. Although many sites see minimal traffic from both Google+ and LinkedIn, now may be the time to invest in building communities within those networks if engagement really matters to your business.
  3. A referral from Twitter is as good as a referral from Facebook — at least, in terms of bounce rate, pages per visit and time on site. Tied in 4th place are Twitter and Facebook. Both types of visitors bounce the same (56.35% of the time), while Twitter wins the pages per visit category (2.15 vs 2.03) and Facebook users tend to spend more time on a site post-click than Twitter users do (127.44 seconds vs. 123.10).
  4. Pinterest isn’t exactly the social media golden child we all play it up to be. Coming in 6th, Pinners bounce as often as FB users and Tweeps do, but view fewer pages per visit (1.71) and spend considerably less time on site (64.67 seconds) than almost all of its counterparts, with the exception of StumbleUpon.
  5. Reddit users are the most fickle. Redditors are the most likely to abandon sites — on average, 70.16% bounce. For marketers, Reddit is a tough nut to crack. Its uber-loyal users are increasingly selective about the content that gets upvoted and are eager to downvote things they disagree with. Effectively, Reddit hates marketing. In the past, I’ve even encouraged site owners to quit Reddit. Naturally, I applaud (and envy) brands and businesses that do it right. An excellent example that comes to mind is Newegg’s involvement on /r/buildapc (h/t AGeezus).
  6. StumbleUpon drives the least engaged referrals. Post-click, users view a meager 1.5 pages per visit and spend 54.09 seconds on site. It would appear that StumbleUpon’s click-heavy — to “stumble,” “like” or “dislike” — focus makes users trigger happy to a fault. Users stumble onto the next thing rather than immerse themselves in the webpage SU recommends. Of course, not every recommendation SU serves will be spot on. Yet, in the instance that a user stumbles upon something that directly resonates with her/him, (s)he may even earn the title of “most engaged visitor of the day”.

For the full data set, here are three charts that show average visit duration (chart #1), pages per visit (chart #2), and bounce rate (chart #3) for each of the 8 social networks over the past 6 months.

How engaged are your visitors from your favorite social networks?

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  • http://hashimwarren.com/ Hashim Warren

    Is there a difference between the early traffic from Facebook/Twitter and later traffic?

    My hypothesis: early traffic is more engaged. Youtube, Google+, LinkedIn traffic are better for the early people, and don’t make it to wider, less engaged traffic.

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      Hi Hashim, are you referring to time-of-day? I want to make sure I fully understand the question :)

      • http://hashimwarren.com/ Hashim Warren

        Early like the first 100 visitors

        • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

          Interesting. I can’t say for certain. We don’t have that data at the moment, but will see if I can dig up anything anywhere else.

  • Mathieu

    Hi Danny, thanks for this interesting analysis. 3 questions :
    > Can you give us traffic distribution per network so we can put numbers of visitors in front of KPIs
    > If one visitor comes to your website then share an article, do you consider this as an engagement criteria ? ( vs time spend, bouncerate etc….)
    > Do you have vertical data that could be more actionnable for marketers (Numbers might change BtoB, ecommerce, blog, etc….)
    thanks !

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      Hi Mathieu,

      Thanks for the qs. Here are a few answers:
      1) This link should help: https://blog.shareaholic.com/social-media-traffic-trends-01-2014/

      2) One can consider that engagement criteria, but we didn’t include that as a metric in our study
      3) At this time, we don’t have segmented data. Will look into how we can do that to provide better reports!
      Thanks for your time :)


  • http://www.inboundmarketinggeek.com/ Valerie Joy Deveza

    It’s not suprising that Google+ brings in some of the best visitors. I get a lot more engagement on Google+ than on any other platforms.

    It’s fascinating that users’ average time on site on Pinterest has dropped over the last 2 years.

    Great findings, Danny! Keep it up!

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      Thanks for the comment, Valerie! :)

  • Elijah Hoo

    The thing with this is, what difference does it make? It’s nice to know and all but in terms of marketing and ROI, this is nothing we can take to a client. It’s foolish to say that You Tube has high engagement because that doesn’t mean that the client’s video will lead to engagement of any kind. It’s become a trend in social media management to say that “video is king” in Google but that’s a very simplistic way of luring clients in to thinking that they will get their ROI if they make videos. I understand that you’re talking only about engagement here but it would be interesting to see how much of the engagement you’re talking about actually generates income, ROI, leads or profit and how much of that engagement is simply people bouncing from one video to the next to the next to the next because they have nothing better to do. Social media marketing is an industry and ROI is all that clients care about. How do these figures translate for them? Or do they not translate at all because they’re just “interesting points” but not RELEVENT points for them, their products and services?

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      Great points. As per your question, our analytics aren’t set up to track conversions and sales, though that’d certainly be valuable information to have.

  • http://marcfrechette.com Marc Frechette

    Had you controlled for mobile traffic? The YouTube app, for example, will often show as direct traffic – which is often a bit more ‘clicky’ and engaged than their desktop counterparts. Your other channels, such as Facebook, would include both mobile and desktop.

    • https://shareaholic.com/ Danny Wong

      Hi Marc, to the best of our ability, we have :)

  • chrissie

    Sorry what does bounce rate mean?

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