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Social Sharing: It’s Cool, But Does It Work?

Content producers increasingly hope that social media will get the word out for them.  They hope that their content will go viral. But studies show that email is still the way most people share most content.  And search is still the top method of finding websites.

Yet social sharing is capturing more attention.

Outbrain, a company dedicated to getting online content to the people who need it, reports that only one-tenth of external referrals come from social media sites.  They found that most (41%) come from search and nearly one-third from other sites.

Social media sites drive traffic in only a few categories.  Social media users focus on news and entertainment stories, which account for nearly three-quarters of all social media referrals.  Maybe the media showers so much attention on social sites because they get such disproportionate benefit from those sites.

Social media referrals are also less engaged, according to Outbrain.  They have higher bounce rates and fewer page views per session.   Outbrain calls a person who views at least five pages per session, a “hyperengaged reader.”  They found that referrals from content sites are twice as likely to be hyperengaged as those from social media sites.

Outbrain researchers figure that people coming from content sites are already in reading mode and, therefore, ready to keep reading.  Likewise, people coming from search sites are actively seeking information, and, therefore, eager to read.  On the other hand, people coming from social media sites are less likely to head to a content page and less engaged when they get there.