Facebook Tops Rivals In Driving Users To Indie Sites

The opposite of a walled garden, Facebook continues to drive far more traffic to independent sites than any other social property. Last month, the social giant drove more than twice the number of referrals than the next seven biggest social media platforms combined.
That’s according to new findings from content discovery and sharing company Shareaholic, which reports that Facebook saw its share of visits -- to a network of more than 200,000 Web sites -- increase by more than 5 percentage points from September to December.
“Updates to [Facebook’s] News Feed algorithm is one of the bigger reasons why FB drives more social traffic,” said Danny Wong, author of the new report Shareaholic.
“‘Relevant’ posts get bumped up on users' feeds,” Wong said of Facebook’s system. “Twitter, on the other hand, shows a tweet once in your feed, when someone posts it … If it's [retweeted] or tweeted out again, then it shows up in followers’ feeds another time, but only at the moment when a [retweet] happens.”
To be precise, Facebook boasted a 15.4% share of visits in December and a 17.4% share in November -- up from a 10.3% share in September. By contrast, the combined referral power of Twitter, YouTube and Reddit remained relatively flat -- with their share of visits each decreasing by a fraction of a percentage point from September to December.
Further differentiating Facebook’s model from Twitter's, Wong explained: “Tweets don't get bumped up the same way FB updates do … As a Twitter user, you have to go out of your way to discover trending tweets from the tweets you follow or trending tweets from around the Web.”
“FB, on the other hand, uses its algorithm to decide what status updates to show you, and that means a status update from a few hours, days or even weeks ago may show up again on your feed because it's relevant to your life,” Wong clarified.
Also growing its referral prowess, Pinterest’s share rose by about 1 percentage point, while StumbleUpon’s share grew a fraction of a percentage point.
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