Recently, there was a lot of buzz regarding the traffic changes of major social networks. People are arguing about Facebook and its traffic statistics, including increase and decrease trends. There are comparisons between different social networks, and it’s very difficult to get a clear idea about what’s really happening in this industry.
The reason for this confusion is the issues with measuring the traffic of social network websites. Those issues are cause by things like: the use of many redirects, having most of the data encrypted, and having a lot of mobile traffic, which is a challenge of its own, when it comes to big data collection and analysis.
On January 24th, Shareaholic, a content publishing network, published the following statistics:
- Facebook has had growth of over 48%
- Pinterest went up by 30%
- Twitter dropped by 4%
This is based on data they collected from 200,000 sites which, they claim, reaches over 250Mill unique visitors each month. We’ve decided to run a check of our own and see if our data correlates with the statistics provided by Shareaholic. SimilarWeb’s traffic is based on Desktop users only and is derived from one of the largest user panels in the industry.
Let’s start by comparing the traffic share of these 3 social networks in the last two quarters of 2013:
As you can see Facebook is in the lead by far, with Twitter coming second and Pinterest in the bottom with significantly less traffic share comparing to the other two giants. However, if we compare Q3 and Q4, we can see that Twitter has had an increase of 3.70% in traffic share, Facebook had a decrease of 0.29% and Pinterest has had an increase of 4.11%.
Now let’s look on the actual traffic for each quarter:
At first glance you can see that the changes in traffic are less extreme than what we’ve seen in Shareaholic’s statistics. You can also see that not only did Twitter not suffer a drop in visits, but it had twice the increase that Facebook has had (8.12% increase comparing to 4.34% for Facebook). Pinterest in progressing nicely with the largest increase out of these 3 – 8.40%.
It seems that according to our data, while Facebook is definitely still taking the lead in traffic share, as well as keeping far ahead of the other two networks, their improvement between Q3 and Q4 in 2013 was half as much as what Twitter and Pinterest managed to achieve.
Let’s continue and compare the visitors’ engagement of these 3 social networks, just for the fun of it:
Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, have all improved their average time on site.
- Facebook has managed to additionally improve its average page views and bounce rate, while Twitter had a slight decrease in those two metrics.
- Pinterest has had a slight decrease in average page views, but a nice improvement in bounce rate.
It seems that Facebook is not only taking the lead in the number of visits, but also in the user’s behavior metrics. Twitter is right behind Facebook, with statistics that wouldn’t shame any website owner, and Pinterest is last in line, but not that far behind.