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Facebook Continues to Be The Biggest Driver of Social Traffic

Last May, we posted “4 Things We Learned About Our Most Social Content,” which laid out some insights gleaned from the SimpleReach network. It’s now been a few months and the network has grown, so we decided to take another look at the social landscape and see what, if anything, has changed.

Specifically, we were curious about the first two points of that post: Is Facebook still the biggest driver of social traffic, and does most of that traffic still come from a small percentage of content? (If you’re interested in the other two points in that article — about what verticals are most social and which networks have the longest shelf life — stay tuned. We’ll take a deeper look at those another time.)

After a look at the updated data, we have the answers: Yes and yes. Let’s break it down.

1) Facebook Still Drives the Most Social Traffic:

Not only does Facebook still drive more traffic than any other social network, but it’s the only one to increase in traffic sent quarter-over-quarter. In Q3, Facebook was responsible for driving 62.3% of all social traffic across the SimpleReach network. For the first time, that’s double what Twitter contributes (which was 27.3% in the same timeframe, Q3).

Social Traffic by Channel as Percent of Total Social - 2013 Quarters

If this trend continues, Facebook will be driving nearly three-quarters (72.6%) of social traffic by the end of Q1 2014.

2) The Majority of Traffic Comes from A Small Percentage of Content

In our last post, we pointed out how a small percentage of total content drives the majority of social traffic. We showed this in action with an example from Upworthy.com, in which a single article in the top 1% (in this case, “Watch These Straight People Answer a Question Gay People Have Been Asked for Years,”) received more than 2.5 million social referrals. And from the looks of it, that’s not changing anytime soon.

Percent of Social Traffic from Top Content

In Q1, the top 1% of content drove 65.2% of traffic while the top 5% drove 87.8% and the top 10% accounted for 93.8%. By Q3, those percentages had all increased: The top 1% drove 71.5%, the top 5% drove 89.2% and the top 10% drove 94.3%. This illustrates the importance of optimizing content for social sharing. Consider Upworthy once again — they A/B test every piece of content with at least four headlines, continually refining for clicks per share and shares per view. They’ve learned that the right headline can be the difference between 1,000 or 1,000,000 people seeing an article, and they rely on data to get there. (They’re also good at prompting the reader to share content, which is no small factor.)

That’s it for now. We’re always excited to answer questions and talk strategy, so leave any thoughts in the comments. And check back for more updates, coming soon.

About Erin Scottberg

Erin's a digital story-teller who loves playing in the intersection of data and content.

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