For my presentation on Twitter Marketing Tactics at SMX West this week I wanted to get a sense of just how much traffic Twitter is driving to major news sites. So I conducted an informal poll of 10 US newspaper and magazine sites that Define works with or I am friendly with.
The surveyed group included a mix of sites covering general and breaking news as well as specific topics such as lifestyle, sports or entertainment. Most organizations prefer to keep their figures private so I’m not able to share the actual sites but they are all well-known brands. I looked at referral data for 2008, 2009 and 2010 to-date and for comparison also included Facebook and Digg.
So what percentage of total site traffic came from Twitter and the other social sites? Here are the group averages:
To-date in 2010 Twitter represents an average of 0.7% of total site traffic.
10 newspaper and magazines sites is not a sufficient sample so take this survey for what it is, but the data does provide a rough idea of what major publishers are experiencing. Among the surveyed sites the highest Twitter percentage was 2.9% but the majority fell below 1%. The highs for Facebook and Digg were 2% and 7.2% respectively. The Digg percentages varied the most with straight news sites faring best.
- While all of the surveyed sites have some form of social media strategy none of them are doing as much as they could be. So these figures represent the experiences of typical news sites, not ones that have fully dialed in SMM.
- Despite the low percentages, to-date this year Twitter and Facebook are top 25 referrers for all of the sites and top 10 referrers for most. It is interesting that a top 10 referrer can represent such a small percentage of total site traffic. But since total monthly traffic for most of the group is in the millions, tens of millions or more those small percentages do represent substantial numbers. And if social media is bringing in traffic that the sites might not have otherwise received that’s a nice bump.
- Well-established brands still get a large portion of their traffic via direct navigation. Among the sites surveyed the figures ranged from 30-60%. Partnerships with other large content sites and cross-network promotions were another major driver.
- Natural search engine referrals ranged from about 10% to over 40% and Google.com was the #1 or #2 referring domain for nearly every site. So despite all the attention that social media deservedly gets, search is still its daddy.
- It is interesting that Digg is trending down this year. Not every site in the group was a natural fit for Digg and we are still in Q1 2010 so it is difficult to draw any strong conclusions. But even among the sites that do very well in Digg the numbers have dropped.
I’d like to expand the size of the survey group, so if any newspaper or magazine professionals out there are willing to share their percentages it will be much appreciated. You can contact me via this form or direct message me on Twitter. Your anonymity will be maintained. Alternatively if anyone is willing to share their figures publicly please leave a comment below. Thanks!