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Twitter may not have as many users as Facebook, but when it comes to social sharing, it is arguably the king for many publishers. 

And for good reason: Twitter's structure makes it the perfect platform for sharing links.

But are publishers using Twitter to drive traffic to their websites underestimating just how much traffic the social media hub is generating? According to social analytics provider awe.sm, the answer to that question is 'yes!'.

Yesterday, awe.sm co-founder Jonathan Strauss published a blog post detailing that, in the first six months of 2011, Twitter drove a whopping four times as much traffic to 33,000 of the sites using awe.sm's platform than referrer data alone could detect.

awe.sm's findings:

  • Just under 25% of links shared on Twitter produced a twitter.com referrer.
  • Nearly a third of links shared on Twitter contained no referrer information.
  • 13% of Twitter links listed another referrer.

There are a number of reasons links shared on Twitter don't get the referrer credit they're due.

Many users, for instance, use Twitter clients that simply don't pass referrer information. And increasingly, links shared find their way onto other sites which display tweets and feeds.

In fact, awe.sm says that "1 in 8 visits driven by Twitter sharing are actually referred from other sites.'

Of course, publishers paying attention to attribution probably aren't surprised about any of this. Whether you're using a service like awe.sm or bit.ly to track traffic from Twitter-shared links, or tagging your links for analytics purposes, it is possible to ensure that you're not significantly underestimating the traffic generated by Twitter.

As services like Twitter become more and more important to many publishers, and increased investment in social becomes a subject for discussion, such techniques to manage attribution will only become more important.

For more on how Econsultancy measures Twiiter traffic, see this post

Patricio Robles

Published 15 July, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2379 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Nick Stamoulis

"Twitter's structure makes it the perfect platform for sharing links."

I think this is what makes Twitter so unique. The 140 character limit is perfect for a link and a teaser. Twitter has become the go-to news source for so many people.

about 5 years ago

John Courtney

John Courtney, CEO and Executive Chairman at Pay on Results SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital PR, PPC & CRO from Strategy Digital

" Twitter's structure makes it the perfect platform for sharing links."

Publishers should be aware of this, and should be able to track and measure, always important things to be able to do!

John Courtney
Executive Chairman
Strategy Internet Marketing

about 5 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Thanks for the link to the Awe.sm article.

One thing I've noticed working with Clients is the gap in thinking with regards to measurement of social media links.

It's of course standard to use a URL shortener like Bit.ly to get as much out of the 140 characters as possible. However, in Google Analytics if you shorten your site URL, it comes through as Direct traffic, not referral traffic from the Twitter domain.

People need to use tracking tools like Campaign Codes to ensure the analytics picks up relevant data and populates reports so that you can assess the impact of the link.

thanks
james

about 5 years ago

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Tim Leighton-Boyce

I'm extremely pleased to see that this subject is now under scrutiny.

The problem is not confined to tracking Twitter activity by a company itself. Campaign tagging and more sophisticated campaign managing and monitoring tools can help with that.

The even bigger issue, I think, is that companies may be grossly underestimating the visits which are coming as a result of unsolicited mentions on Twitter posted by the general public.

Social platforms such as Twitter have huge potential for amplifying genuine customer recommendations (or howls of complaint). There are tools for monitoring the quantity of such references and even attempting to analyse the sentiment.

But we're almost blind to the number of people clicking through from such links.

I've written more on this here:
http://www.cxfocus.com/index.php/google-analytics-tips/social-marketing-big-visitors/

about 5 years ago

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Sarah ONeill PR

twitter is much more engaging - people have much more engaging communities in twitter than on Facebook - which seems to be content-within-facebook that gets most of the views.

about 5 years ago

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James Robertson, Web Marketing Manager at www.venuebirmingham.com

It's like the old cliche says: Facebook is where you talk to the people you actually went to school with; Twitter is where you talk to the people you wish you'd gone to school with...

about 5 years ago

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Cathy Debenham

We get more new traffic to our (quite specialist) website from Twitter than from Facebook. However, the Twitter traffic mostly reads the blog that's linked to, and leaves. Facebook traffic tends to stick around and visit quite a few more pages.

about 5 years ago

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