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It's not enough to just drive traffic to your content. You need to drive engaged traffic---people who actually consume your content when they find it rather than clicking away from it. With the importance of social referrals growing for content publishers, Shareaholic analyzed data from September 2013 through February 2014 across its network of more than 200,000 sites and 250 million unique monthly visitors to determine which social platforms drove the most engaged traffic.In the Social Referrals that Matter Report, Shareaholic reveals how the top eight social media platforms perform in terms of driving engaged visitors based on average time on site, average page views per visit, and average bounce rate. Following are some of the highlights.

Overall Post-Click Engagement

The most engaged traffic comes from YouTube. In fact, YouTube far outpaces any other social media platform when it comes to driving engaged traffic. Google+ and LinkedIn ranked second and third, respectively, followed by Twitter and Facebook, which practically tied in overall engagement. Falling far behind the other social media platforms in terms of overall engagement are Pinterest (in sixth place) followed by Reddit and StumbleUpon, which came in last place.

Average Time on Site and Bounce Rate

YouTube wins across the board with average time on site of 227.82 seconds, average pages per visit of 2.98 and average bounce rate of 43.19%.However, Google+ and LinkedIn also stood out from the pack in terms of the average time visitors from both social platforms spend on sites they're referred to (188.54 seconds for Google+ and 133.10 seconds for LinkedIn). While both Google+ and LinkedIn drive less traffic overall than other social media platforms, the traffic that both sites send to your content is typically highly engaged. Bounce rates for Google+ and LinkedIn (50.63% and 51.28%, respectively) were lower than any other social media platform except for YouTube. Average pages per visit for Google+ (2.45) and LinkedIn (2.23) were also higher than any other social media platform than YouTube.It's also interesting to note that while Facebook has held the top spot in terms of the amount of social referrals it sends to websites, both Facebook and Twitter send similarly engaged visitors to those websites. Twitter beat Facebook slightly for average pages per visit (2.15 for Twitter vs. 2.03 for Facebook) while Facebook beat Twitter slightly for average time on site (127.44 seconds for Facebook vs. 123.10 seconds for Twitter). Both Twitter and Facebook had average bounce rates 56.35%.Pinterest, Reddit, and StumbleUpon are far inferior than the other social media platforms when it comes to sending engaged traffic to websites. According to the Shareaholic report, Pinterest, Reddit, and StumbleUpon had the lowest average time on site, average pages per visit, and average bounce rate results. For example, Pinterest referral traffic has a bounce rate of 56.35%, which is the same as Facebook and Twitter.However, average time on site is just 64.67 and average pages per visit are just 1.71. Even worse is Reddit with a bounce rate of 70.16%. That bounce rate is actually higher than the last place finisher, StumbleUpon, which had a bounce rate of 67.46%. However, StumbleUpon sealed its 8th place ranking with its low average time on site of 54.09 seconds (less than Reddit's of 81.16 seconds) and its low average pages per visit of 1.50 (lower than Reddit's of 1.58).

What This Means for Authoritative Content Publishers

If you want to drive engaged traffic to your website from social media, focus on YouTube. Google+ and LinkedIn are also great for engaged social referrals even though the quantity of those referrals will be smaller than what you'll get from Twitter and Facebook. With that said, Twitter and Facebook are very useful for driving referrals, just don't expect them to be as engaged as visitors who find your content from YouTube, Google+, or LinkedIn are likely to be. Finally, Pinterest, Reddit, and StumbleUpon can be dropped further down in your list of priorities unless you have niche content and a specific audience that spends a lot of time on these social media platforms.Image: John Fingas

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