Chart of the week - Facebook outpaces LinkedIn as the biggest source of social media traffic to corporate sites

Facebook outpaces LinkedIn as the biggest source of social media traffic to corporate websites, Twitter referrals stall by comparison

Occasional feature highlighting useful data for corporate digital communication.

(Click to enlarge)
Source: Bowen Craggs Google Analytics Benchmark 2017*

By 2016 Facebook had overtaken LinkedIn as the most significant source of social media referrals to corporate websites, and both channels have grown to account for more than 1 per cent of all visits; while Twitter growth has stalled. Referrals from YouTube have declined to nearly zero, which is why the channel is not shown on the chart.

  • Looking at the wider picture, in 2014, fewer than one in 100 corporate website visits were referred from social media. That was compared with one in five visits referred from all other recognised sources.

  • By 2017, one in 40 visits came from social media (2.5 per cent of all traffic). This is still a very small proportion of overall traffic, but an increase from 1.5 per cent recorded in 2016.

  • In 2012, mobile traffic to corporate websites was also low but grew to become a major source of visitors. We think it is unlikely that social referrals will see the same level of growth.

  • However, it is useful to think in terms of absolute numbers of visits, which can be more significant than the percentages imply. For example, while the percentages may be low, for one company in our benchmark group, out of a total of 36 million visits, there were 783,000 visits referred from LinkedIn and 236,000 from Facebook.

  • The usefulness of different channels depends on the company and there are wide differences between individual companies in the benchmark. We have found, for example, that Facebook is less useful for B2B companies, except in some regions, such as South America, where it can be an important customer channel.

*The 2017 benchmark covers the period between May 2016 and April 2017, collecting Google Analytics data from 24 corporate websites from a variety of sectors, and representing a range of activity. The busiest site had 37 million visits per year; the quietist 530,000, and an average of 7 million.

'Light quant' - the sexiest job of the 21st Century?

In my recent column I lamented the fact that the typical corporate web team is unlikely to have the budget or resources to do measurement well. Even if budget were no object, an article by Gil Press, Forbes contributor, shows how the problem is compounded because data scientists are in such high demand. We’ve all seen the explosion of job titles with ‘digital’ in them; now it’s ‘data’. 

Gil defines a data scientist as ‘an engineer who employs the scientific method and applies data-discovery tools to find new insights in data’. Our own super-star data scientist Helen Lindsay is indeed an engineer who uses the excellent tool Tableau to provide our clients with insight.

In the survey on which Gil’s article is based half of the respondents cited turning analytical insights into business actions as one of their top analytics challenges – as my column suggests and as Helen would attest. 

Tom Davenport, writing for Deloitte, defines the need for ‘light quant’ as someone who knows something about analytical and data management methods; knows a lot about specific business problems; and can connect the two. An ‘analytical translator’ is someone who is extremely skilled at communicating the results of quantitative analyses.

I’m not sure that Helen would describe the job as ‘sexy’ - as Gil Press attempts to, although with tongue in cheek - since it involves equal measure of painstaking detail (data wrangling) and frustrating generality (people wrangling). But I’m sure she’d agree with Tom that these are indeed the types of skills needed by anyone trying to find the metrics that the board cares about most. 

- Dan Drury