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Changes to Facebook’s algorithms have not endeared the social media platform in the eyes of publishers, with many experiencing a decrease in referral traffic from the platform after the changes that occurred in 2018. However, per recent research from Parse.ly, Facebook still remains the top social platform for referral traffic by a wide margin.

Parse.ly looked at referral data from its network during the first six months (January – July) of 2019. During that time, Facebook had an average of 924 million referrals per month. To put this into perspective, the social media platform with the next largest number of referrals per month was Twitter, which averaged 97 million per month during the period of analysis.

The other top social media platforms like Pinterest (25 million), Instagram (17 million), LinkedIn (16 million) and YouTube (1.5 million) referred far less traffic to the network of publishers using Parse.ly.

Of all of the platformed examined, Twitter has the fewest number of users, with recent Pew Institute figures showing that 24% of US adults use Twitter compared to the 69% who use Facebook and 37% who use Instagram.

With that in mind, it is interesting to see that Twitter has the highest average percentage of returning visitors, with 25% of referred visitors from Twitter having been to the same site in the same month. Facebook ranks second in this area with an average of 19% of referred visitors returning to the same site in one month.

While Instagram has made headway in becoming one of the top social media platforms for marketers, especially those who are targeting teens, it generates little return traffic with only an average of 5% of referred visitors returning to the same site in the same month. This is reportedly due to Instagram’s limited capability in users sharing content.

Read more about the analysis here.

About the Data: Referral data was gathered from Parse.ly’s network between January – July 2019.

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