Does Social Media Still Suck At Driving Traffic?

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About a month ago, a study came out discussing thle top drivers of traffic in relation to Internet traffic. While sites/companies like Google and Yahoo were about where you would expect, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook were lacking. In fact, the study, commissioned and performed by Outbrain, was responsible for a popular WebProNews article, one that, thanks to additional data from the aforementioned content company, questioned how well sites like Facebook and Twitter did in regards to driving web traffic to other sites.

The results were surprising, especially when you read about how more and more people are getting their news from social media recommendations. Nevertheless, Outbrain's findings were clear: Social media sucks at driving web traffic.

Or does it?

Earlier, we received an email from Outbrain and their findings have been adjusted to such a degree, the "sucks" descriptor in relation to social media is not as accurate as it once was. First, Outbrain's findings:

Top 20 Traffic Sources to Content Pages

1 Google
2 Yahoo
3 AOL/Huffington Post
4 Facebook
5 MSN*
6 Drudge Report
8 Outbrain
9 StumbleUpon
10 Twitter
12 reddit
13 MediaTakeOut
14 Fark
15 Slate
16 Comcast
18 Wikipedia
19 Digg
20 Real Clear Politics

*Includes Bing and

In the previous report, Facebook was out of the top ten as a traffic source, and in the new findings, Facebook is now in the top five. That's much more congruent with the realization many web users get their news, or at least recommendations for news, from Facebook.

Oddly enough, however, is Twitter's fall. In the previous report, Twitter was ranked in the top seven, and in the new data, Twitter has fallen to the tenth spot. Considering the increase of Twitter use, that may be surprising, but previous studies have shown Twitter is good at driving traffic to blogs and other social media outlets, but not so good when it comes to driving traffic to retail sites.

Another area of surprise, or at least, perhaps mirth is Outbrain's insistence on sticking themselves in these rankings. Again, the company responsible for the study is ranked eighth, which represents a drop of two places from the previous study. It should be noted that Outbrain makes content widgets, like the following:

Outbrain Widget

And these appear on a number of large news sites, including USAToday and The Chicago Tribune. This would help explain Outbrain's traffic-driving prowess considerably.

Then there's the matter of Considering Reddit's explosive growth, which, oddly enough, coincides with Digg's update failure, it's surprising it ranks so low on Outbrain's findings, new or previous. Reddit's traffic driving prowess, according to Outbrain, ranked around the one percent mark. Google's, on the other hand, ranks in the 32 percentile. Does this mean that all those Reddit members aren't clicking links, or, much like the Twitter findings, is Reddit only good at driving traffic to certain kinds of sites?

In the case of Reddit, the enthusiastic users have helped make Imgur a viable image bank, although, it's doubtful they would do much in the way of having an impact on the traffic going to, for instance.

Do these new findings change your thoughts about using Facebook and Twitter for promotional content or do will you still shy away from them, choosing, instead, to focus on Google and Yahoo's properties?

Let us know what you think.