International Business and Technology Blog

Social media now drives >30% of all referral traffic

Posted by Michael Hawksley on Mon, Mar 23, 2015

I read an interesting article by Jayson DeMers in the Forbes that shared a report from Shareaholic. Based on the 340k websites in the Shareaholic network then, as of December 2014, social media is now the #1 driver of all website referral accounting for 31.24% compared to the 22.71% from the same period in the previous year.

social media growth

With the sites that we manage at ibt partners we are also seeing a strong level in social media traffic to our websites across the different countries and languages. For us social media is an important part of our Online Marketing strategy and an integrated search engine optimization (SEO) and social media strategy is essential.

There’s no question that social referrals are an extremely important source of traffic for most websites even for those companies in a business-to-business market space. The graph from Shareaholic’s report goes a step further and breaks down the share of traffic for each social network, showing the changes over the entire 2014 calendar year. For those who think Facebook is dead then these results may surprise you! Facebook continued to lead the pack in 2014 coming in with total traffic share of 16-25% month after month. But perhaps the most pleasing finding for those, like myself, who are strong advocates of Facebook for business, is the overall growth of Facebook’s traffic share, 59.58%, over the year from December 2013 to December 2014. If we look at social media referral traffic on a broader scale, going back to 2011, the trend becomes quite clear. 


We can see Facebook in a clear upward trend, with Pinterest increasing until March 2014, after which time it appears to be experiencing a slight decline. The remaining 6 networks show a remarkably steady traffic share over the 3-year period. Where our experience differs from the graph is the amount of traffic to a business-to-business website that can be generated by a well thought out LinkedIn campaign combining LinkedIn company page postings, group postings and individual profiles. In our case we generate significantly higher website traffic from LinkedIn than is seen in the Shareaholic graph.

Given Facebook’s value as the #1 driver of referral traffic over the past 3 years, here are some strategies Shareaholic recommends you can use to help drive your Facebook traffic to your website or blog:

  1. Provide short quotes from your blog posts: When posting links to blog posts, be sure to include a brief quote or excerpt. Let your fans know what to expect when they click on the link. Choose a portion of text that not only summarizes the topic of the post, but that will entice your fans to click through to read more.
  2. Your images matter: When sharing images, ensure that they’re the optimal size for your timeline as well as for your fans’ newsfeeds. The recommended size for your shared photos varies depending who you ask; but generally speaking, an image of around 1200×630 is ideal. This is true for regular images as well as for images attached to links (for instance, when you share a blog post).
  3. Share at the optimal times: Through a careful analysis of your Facebook Insights you should be able to tell when your fans are more active and engaged. A free tool like LikeAlyzer can also help you determine the best times to share links with your fans.
  4. Make the most of Facebook links: Be sure to include links back to your site in all the places that matter
  5. Use Facebook ads: Given the drop in organic post reach over the past few years, utilizing Facebook ads to drive traffic to your site may be a good way to supplement your current strategies.

In addition to these we add a few of our own for companies in the business-to-business market looking at European wide, multi-lingual campaigns:

  1. Hashtags: Often talked about and equally often forgotten. Using the right hashtags in your postings will reach the people most interested in your target.
  2. Multi-lingual postings: When posting on your Facebook timeline for postings in different languages use the language targeting to keep the postings for the right audience.
  3. Who is social: Experiment with Facebook ads to see which are the most social countries for your posts. You could be surprised! We often get strong results from Poland and Italy for German language postings.

If you would like to find out more about managing your social media in Europe then download ibt partners ebook. 


Tags: All posts, Social Media