How Powerful Is Social Media?

Is social media really that important to your business? Considering that the total worldwide population is 7.3 billion and there are 2.3 billion active worldwide social media users, the answer is yes.
To truly engage with the online world nowadays, a website alone is not enough. Our fans, users and readers sometimes dont directly come to us, but they expect to find us on their favorite social media platforms. Maybe they forget to check your blog for regular updates, but if they see a post on Facebook announcing your latest work, they will like it, share it and perhaps visit your site too. If youre launching a new product, you want your social network to talk about it and spread the word. The same goes for online social clubs: tweet, post, film and chat.
So which social media platforms are best? And how many visitors to our websites actually come from these active users?
As of April 2016, the leading social networks have been ranked according to the number of active users:

  • Facebook ranks top with 1,590,000,000 active users!
  • WhatsApp follows with a cool 1,000,000,000
  • Instagram is further down the list with 400,000,000 users
  • Twitter is next with 320,000,000
  • Snapchat boasts 200,000,000 active users
  • Pinterest is less than expected with only100,000,000 users

Which social platforms are growing?
A comparison of monthly active users from 2010 until 2016 clearly shows that Facebook continues to be on the rise, WhatsApp is growing at a faster pace, Instagram is growing, but at a slightly slower pace, and Twitter seems to have reached a plateau, well below the other network curves.
Which platform has the highest numbers of engagement?
Comscore made a comparison chart of average monthly minutes per visitor in relation to the percentage reach among age 18-34. Facebook completely dominates at well over 1000 monthly minutes per visitor, while the best of the rest dont exceed 400 minutes. However, the percentage reach of the audience varies greatly: while Facebook has a reach of nearly 100%, the others operate between 20% to 65%. So percentage-wise, compared to percentage reach Snapchat is doing quite well considering its more limited audience.
How many site visits actually come from social?
An article in Forbes 2015 states that 31% of all referral traffic to websites comes from social. Content marketer Shareaholic states that social media is now the #1 driver of all website referral traffic. According to that report, social referrals are hot on the heels of search traffic, having overtaken it at times throughout 2014. If this is not convincing enough, looking at the trends from 2011 to 2015: Facebooks referral traffic rose from a mere 7% to a whopping 25%, whilst Pinterest et al also increased, only not at that rate. Twitter seems to be the struggling child with a slight decrease in referral traffic.
Going back to some number crunching, if 31% of your traffic comes from social, you do the maths and decide whether or not its worth it. The answer will be a clear yes.
The figures presented throughout this post alone should tell you that social media is a market you cant afford to overlook. With a presence of 2.3 billion active users, how can you not engage? Being present on these channels will get you a nice piece of the online pie.