Data regarding referral traffic from social platforms to publishers is always an interesting read, despite the fact that studies in that field tend to reveal just a snapshot rather than universal truths. Social networks develop constantly, and the way consumers use them alters in time as well. It´s therefore only natural that results from research on referrals change, too.

A recent study I stumbled across, carried out by social plugin service Shareaholic, examined referrals to nearly 200,000 publishers from over 250 million unique visitors over a period of more than a year. Shareaholic looked at eight of the most visited social media channels and found that the bulk of social referrals to publishers came from three major platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Bearing in mind that the first two have the largest user base and are specifically designed with the intention to promote sharing, the fact that they dominate the landscape is not surprising.

But let us look more closely at the figures. Facebook referrals increased by almost 59% over the 13-month period, while those from Twitter rose 54%. Interestingly, Pinterest grew at the fastest rate, recording a 66.5% increase in referrals.

Other social platforms showing significant improvement included YouTube (52.86%) and LinkedIn (34.5%). Even though these two are still lagging behind in terms of the overall share of referrals to publishers, they are quickly gaining ground. Meanwhile, referrals from Reddit and StumbleUpon plummeted by 35% and 27%, respectively.

If you feel that there is something missing on this list, you´re not wrong. The study also looked at referral traffic from Google+ and concluded that, at present, it is not competitive and could hardly be seen as a major referral source. But remember, social media likes to keep us on our toes so things may change at any moment.

By Ben Hollom