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Twitter may be the most effective social media channel for news distribution but LinkedIn is a better way to reach the audience that cares about you.

LinkedIn is now responsible for a staggering 64% of all visits from social media channels to corporate websites according to our research, which tracked an average of 2m monthly visits to 60 corporate websites over two years.

By contrast, Facebook accounts for 17% of such visits, while Twitter is on just 14%.

LinkedIn is the biggest source of visits from social media sites

So why does this matter? One reason why companies often choose Twitter above other channels is its ability to break news stories before the mainstream media is, but news distribution is not the only thing that companies need to do on social media.

Undoubtedly, all companies should keep a close eye on what is being said about them on Twitter, and most companies should also consider using Twitter as a news distribution channel.

However, this is only part of the story. When it comes to social media, companies need to influence how they are perceived and how they are discussed.

The most obvious approach is to join the conversation but this requires skill and sensitivity and an investment of time and resource. It also entails a considerable degree of risk, which may not be acceptable for many companies.

Another powerful way of influencing the social media audience is through the corporate website: some of the uncontrolled conversation on social media can be diverted onto the controlled environment of a website.

The better the website is and the more frequently its content is updated, the more likely is it that people will use it as their primary information source, instead of scouring social media for titbits and rumour.

For this approach to work people need to find the corporate website in the first place. Companies need to steer people from social media onto their websites, and this is where LinkedIn comes into its own. Referrals from Twitter are growing (while Facebook referrals are falling) but LinkedIn is the out-and-out leader.

In part, its success can be ascribed to the fact that almost every company has a LinkedIn page: the same is not true of Twitter and Facebook. But the huge power of LinkedIn as a referrer suggests something more profound.

We can’t claim to have the definitive answer but it may be that the type of person who looks at a company page on LinkedIn in the first place is more interested in further information about that company than the average Twitter viewer. 

Twitter is clearly still important and must not be ignored. However, our research suggests that companies would do well to reach out to LinkedIn users as well.

They can do this by enhancing their LinkedIn company page and by participating in (or even initiating) discussions on LinkedIn groups, always providing clear signposting back to the corporate website. 

It is the LinkedIn audience who are most likely to be genuinely interested in you and who are most likely to come to your website, where you can deliver the information that they need.

Marcus Fergusson

Published 18 October, 2013 by Marcus Fergusson

Marcus Fergusson is Head of Social Media & Research at Investis and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with Marcus on LinkedIn and Google Plus

2 more posts from this author

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Parry Malm

Parry Malm, CEO at Phrasee Ltd.

Very interesting statistics Marcus, thanks for sharing. One interesting point to add is it appears, according to the chart, that LinkedIn's market share is increasing, and the others are either stagnating or falling.

Out of curiosity, any idea what the addition of "sponsored posts" to LinkedIn's advertising opportunities has had on this increase?

almost 3 years ago

Marcus Fergusson

Marcus Fergusson, Research Director at Investis

Thanks Parry. Facebook's share is definitely falling, from a high of 43% in March 2012 to 17% today. Twitter, on the other hand, is generally increasing although it does fluctuate quite wildly - it had 29% in January this year and regularly hits 20% - although fell to 14% in August.

I think it's too early to say whether LinkedIn's sponsored updates will have a material effect - but if the growth continues over the coming months I'm sure it would be reasonable to conclude that they're at least partly responsible. We're not currently capturing data at that degree of granularity - something to investigate perhaps...

almost 3 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

In my experience, LinkedIn can be a goldmine for B2B brands. It's a great place to directly connect with your target audience (and not worry about filtering others out). It's a professionally minded social site so people are there to do and think about business, which also puts them in the right frame of mind to receive your messaging.

almost 3 years ago

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Chris Pointon, SVP Marketing Technology at MARC USA

Are you using HTTP referrer information as the basis of your stats? People clicking links from an HTTPS environment to an HTTP one do not pass a referrer. Facebook started rolling out HTTPS in mid-2011, making it the default choice at the end of 2012. LinkedIn is an HTTP environment except for the login process. If you're using referrer information, it might explain the apparent decline in visits from Facebook.

almost 3 years ago

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Greg Reeder

On the surface, the numbers seem to tell a definitive story. Although it's not so clear how representative the data is to make the assertions.

The data set is 60 companies with only 2m uniques. To assume that LinkedIn is the key to visitors seems off track.

Depends on which companies were tracked, which market segment, and other correlating factors. Consider a site like Yelp, which gets 100 million uniques per month - presumably a lot of traffic from social channels such as Facebook or Twitter. Or, Coca Cola, which attracts more than 1 million uniques per month. Including either of these types or sizes of companies in the referral analysis could potentially skew or discount the findings.

For the analysis, with such a small number of visits to a fairly large group of companies, seems like a stretch to make the case that LinkedIn is a driving force for what interests the market overall.

almost 3 years ago

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Jonathan Duarte

I'd like to see more of the raw data before reading too much into these "facts".

I think the traffic needs to be qualified by type of landing page to make any kind of relevant conclusions.

LinkedIn is primarily a company research tool, for both job seekers and sales & marketing professionals.

A lot of the outbound traffic from LinkedIn might be going directly to the companies corporate career site, to look for jobs, etc.

Facebook and Twitter, in general, are not good sources for "career traffic".

Comparing Social marketing and product and customer service traffic to career traffic, is comparing apples to oranges.

almost 3 years ago

Parry Malm

Parry Malm, CEO at Phrasee Ltd.

@Greg I agree that the sample size is small, 2m impressions is not mega. If you've got a link to a bigger study then drop a link over please!

But @Jonathan I don't agree with what you say - LinkedIn is for more than career traffic.

The problem with LinkedIn is that it's been hijacked by self promotional consultants and myopic marketers. For example, LinkedIn Groups used to be quite useful, now they're just filled with spam. (I should know - a group I started in 2008 now has 38,000 members, and it was a constant task to remove spammy posts until I relinquished control of the group to a previous employer.)

With that said, it's not so different a concept from email. Perhaps hijacked by spammers, but even if 1/10 emails you get you read, then it's a channel you interact with. LinkedIn is the same, when you cut through the crap you can find some useful nuggets.

But the main point is that your link between Marcus' research and marketing vs career traffic is tenuous. Nothing in his post said anything about that. You've stated a hypothesis with no backup. So it's not about apples and oranges, it's apples and your opinion.

Do you have any statistics to back up your hypothesis? I'd love to see them - it's entirely possible I'm wrong, but based upon the statistics in this article and the comment thread I'm inclined to side with Marcus thus far.

almost 3 years ago

Marcus Fergusson

Marcus Fergusson, Research Director at Investis

Thanks for all of your comments - I think the key thing to remember is that we are talking about corporate websites here and not consumer/marketing websites.

In terms of the sample size, we are tracking 2 million visits to 60 websites per month. Of these 37 are FTSE 350 corporate websites and the rest our SmallCap/AIM corporate websites or European corporate websites.

Having over 10% of the FTSE 350 does not seem a bad sample size - although of course we are working to increase this data set.

In terms of visits, corporate sites of course do not receive as many visits as consumer sites. The average here of 33,000 visits per month is entirely typical: while some sites (particularly those companies that operate in the retail sector) do attract upwards of 100,000 visits per month, especially during busy times in the financial year, these sites are very much in the minority.

Two other thoughts. First of all, the careers sections of corporate sites receive the most visits overall so it is perhaps not surprising a careers-focused social site should be winning out.

But secondly, bear in mind that visits from social media sites represent a tiny proportion of all visits - just 1.5%. LinkedIn may be well in the lead but even they are just scratching the surface.

almost 3 years ago

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esills

Very interesting. On reading the report, it appears the companies tracked, while they cover a broad range of sectors, are all UK or European companies. Would you confirm—or clarify if I'm mistaken? (And if they are all UK/European, are the results different from what you've seen in U.S. companies?) Many thanks.

almost 3 years ago

Marcus Fergusson

Marcus Fergusson, Research Director at Investis

Hi @esills - they are indeed all UK and European companies. We don't have comparable data for US companies (or at least not enough to feel comfortable making public) - but from the sites I have looked at LinkedIn again seems to be the dominant referrer.

almost 3 years ago

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