Social Media Now Drives 31% Of All Referral Traffic

According to a report released this week by content marketing hub Shareaholicsocial media is now the #1 driver of all website referral traffic. As of December 2014, 31.24% of all referral traffic was from social media; compare this to the 22.71% from the same period in the previous year.

While this is great news for marketers who are investing heavily in social media marketing, are these numbers sustainable?

Looking at the graph below, we see a relatively steady downward progression in referrals from search (i.e. SEO), while social referrals appear have been somewhat unstable over the last half of 2014 (and actually rose above SEO referrals once before, in June).


In any case, there’s no question that social referrals are an extremely important source of traffic for most websites. The 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. The results may surprise you: Facebook continued to lead the pack in 2014 coming in with total traffic share of 16-25% month after month. Perhaps the most surprising finding, however, was the overall growth of Facebook’s traffic share over the year: 59.58% from December 2013 to December 2014.

Interesting stats for other networks were as follows:

  • Pinterest was the only other site that saw an increase from the previous year, with a modest 5.82% increase in traffic share.
  • Twitter’s traffic share decreased by 27.03%
  • StumbleUpon’s share dropped by 42.17%
  • Perhaps most surprisingly, YouTube’s share of referrals dropped a whopping 93.24% from the previous year.

If we look at social media referral traffic on a broader scale – going back to 2011 – the trend becomes quite clear. Take a look:


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.

The report suggests that it may be time for Pinterest to rethink its target market if its going to experience growth in the coming year. Select brands recognize its commercial value and have invested big dollars on ‘Pinfluencers’. But the platform has yet to realize its full potential. To do so, it needs to quickly shed its isolating for-women-only image and develop more mass-market appeal.”

Question: What would this kind of referral trend influence the landscape of business (media, technology, marketing etc. )?


Zini Huang


2 thoughts on “Social Media Now Drives 31% Of All Referral Traffic

  1. I think we have already seen this referral trend influence the landscape of business. Marketers have shifted to find its consumer-base through social media platforms. I think the possibilities are endless. Media, technology, and marketing players can utilize the demographic information on the social media platforms to help narrow their target consumers. This will save money in the long run. People will only have to market to those interested in the product.

    I also think we will continue to see social media referrals lead the overall number of referral traffic. We already saw Yahoo eliminate its famous Directory search recently.

  2. One of the trend I believe is the emergence of “Social Media Optimization” . The “SMO” may focus on how to encourage people to share a link to their social media and how to attract more people to click the link. For exmaple, BuzzFeed is good at creating contents for social media, its BuzzFeed style contents like quiz or list often appear on my timeline. Even though this kind of information is not very nutritious, it’s eye-attracting and so popular among people.

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