Posted April 26, 2011 3:47 pm by with 10 comments

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Now that we have a lot more data in the hopper, it’s beginning to look like social media isn’t the magic pill many people thought it would be when it comes to marketing.

Today, we have numbers from Outbrain. This is the company that makes the “You Also Might Like” widget that suggests related content at the bottom of a blog post. They examined traffic from 100 million sessions across more than 100 premium publishers in order to find out how people are discovering content and what happens when they get there.

As we’ve seen from other surveys, the majority of traffic comes from search engines (41%) and content sites (31%). They say social media sends 11% of the traffic, which is better than the 1% ForeSee suggested, but it’s still not fabulous.

The bigger bad news is that once those social media butterflies land at your site, they don’t stay long.

If you’re looking for “hyper-engaged” readers, those that click through five or more pages on your site, forget the guy who came from Twitter. A link from another content site is three times more likely to be engaged, and someone coming in from search, is also above average.

These results shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. We know that social media is all about instant gratification. It’s the salmon puff on a cocktail party tray. It comes by, it looks good, you grab it. Doesn’t mean you’d like to have an entire meal of nothing but salmon puffs, right?

Search, on the other hand, is like going out to dinner. You have a need (hunger), you find a good place, you sit down and you dine for a half hour or more. (It’s lunch time, folks, can’t help the food analogies.)

What this means for marketers is that you have to grab visitors in the first few seconds when they hit your site, or those who came in from social media will be lost.

You can see more results from this study at the Outbrain blog and thanks to eMarketer for the heads up.

  • Strangely I see the complete opposite for many of my sites, especially Twitter.

  • You’re right! Twitter is falling into irrelevance. I’m just looking for alternative means of marketing.

  • I do not agree 100%, but I do not totally disagree. I would go further and say that social media stats are going to be different depending upon the product/service/brand in question. I have some clients who get tremendous click through using sites such as fb and twitter while other clients see it as a waste of their valuable time and prefer more traditional ways of martketing. These numbers are probably avg. There are no cookie cutter one size fits all remedies out there for marketing-

  • The best traffic I get is always from social media. I do that on purpose. Average is about a 15% bounce rate. A study like this is completely irrelevant because it doesn’t categorize/qualify the 100 sites. What type of site? What industries? What contexts? What is the messaging?

    IMO you can’t do a blanket statement like this and have it pull any weight. Social media is awesome in my world. For my clients as well who are from all kinds of industries.

  • I find that YouTube traffic is the best. Most page views, longest time on site, highest mailing list sign-up.
    There is not even a close second.

  • For my blog, social media is just part of the conversation around it. My main driver is Google, then referral, then social. I’m neither here nor there if I get a lot of social traffic, as that’s not my goal.

    If you’re relying on social media for traffic, start changing your approach, SEO and content marketing approach now.

  • It’s no brainer to see that social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category. There is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the enterprise about their online connections.

    A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies

    Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Flickr and others have been doing a decent job of providing additional marketing exposure and even in some cases, additional revenue. However, as more and more social networking sites pop up, how do you manage your brand across all these channels? Maybe more importantly, which one of these sites should you select as the one that will help you best reach your target audience? The proliferation of the social media avenues is becoming overwhelming.

    This glut of information reminds me of the early 90’s when WWW was adopted broadly by the general public. Every company rushed to have a presence, to the point it became literally impossible to find the right information on the Web. That’s when a better generation of search engines – at first the Yahoo! and then Google – entered the market and helped us find the most relevant information by just typing simple keywords in their search box. If you had asked before Google launched, if there was a need for another search engine – most would have said no, we already have those….

    Then came Web 1.0 & 2.0 – Youtube, Flickr, myspace, Facebook, Twitter and countless others have turned everyday people into content producers, influencers and experts. We basically tripled down on the information overload How do you know which channels to select for deploying your social media strategy? How do you know which one is the right channel to let your fans and followers to find you, your products, and services? Most importantly, who is Joe Smith that is recommending that person, that company, that product?

    I hope my can accomplish such a mission. The site is not another social networking platform. Yet the portal to all your existing social media channels. The platform helps you, your fans, your potential clients to make an intelligent decision as to which company to connect to or follow via which social media channels and why? It’s free!

    CEO & Founder

  • I totally agree with the comment of @Danny Brown. Social Media is about conversation and increasing the exposure of your brand and not for increasing traffic to your website.

    On the other hand you are considering just blogging as the whole SM actions when there are other channels which should be considered in the research.

    The main goal of social media is to engage to the users and create conversation, and it takes a while. For that reason it can’t be measured just in a short period of time. Maybe a longer study of the retention of your users will be more valuable.

  • I don’t think this data suggests social media is a poor traffic driver, especially since bounce rate means users jumped off the site without clicking through to additional pages. When you think about it, this makes sense because most updates posted to social networks attempt to drive users to a very specific article or page within a site.

    Like others have said, social media should only be one part of the overall communications and marketing strategies.

  • I don’t want to believe what I just read… but I guess, numbers don’t lie this time. I had Google Analytics for my site and the stats I get somehow supports the point you’ve raised here. I guess, social networking sites are simply avenues for talking. Just like when you attend a real party and get to talk to people – they may smile and say hello, but it doesn’t mean they’re really interested. I think social media campaigns should focus on that conversion factor that keeps the flame of interest burning.