Small businesses (those employing less than 500 people) make up the majority of firms (>99%) and the majority of new jobs created in the last 10 years.  As such, they're likely to be both drivers and subjects of shifts in the digital advertising landscape.  Even more so because, as pointed out by Brett in the previous blog post , small businesses are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of having a digital presence.  A major driver of that digital presence is traffic from social media sources, which make up 33% of all referral traffic .

 So it's a nice intersection of my own curiosity and the needs of our customers that I wanted to take a look at this social media referral traffic.  I also wanted to see how a changes to the social media advertising landscape affects our customers.

 The changes I'm talking about here are Facebook's recent revisions to its newsfeed algorithm that were rolled out in the middle of 2017.  A recent report from Shareaholic showed that Facebook's share of social traffic to larger advertisers' websites declined 26% in 2017 versus 2016, which they attribute to Facebook's algorithm revisions.  On reading this, I was interested if we saw the same impact among our customers.

 I had two questions here:

  1. Who are the top social media referrers and what share of traffic are they driving?
  2. Have we seen any changes between 2016 and 2017 in the share of traffic?

 For the first question, I wanted to look at social media traffic overall (i.e. what we experience as a provider) and on average per customers (i.e. what our customers experience).  I looked at four of the major social media traffic drivers; Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Yelp.

A few interesting things here:

  1. Pinterest seems to be driving a lot of traffic, but only to a small subset of users, about 11%
  2. In terms of changes in our customer's social traffic (the chart on the right), Facebook's share fell about 6% in 2017 vs 2016 versus a decline of 26% in Shareaholic's sample.
  3. Instagram's share has risen 42%, versus 800% in Shareaholic's sample.

 This suggests that the changes to the Facebook news feed may be affecting larger companies (Shareaholic's sample) more than it's affecting our small business customers.  That would make sense if Facebook is pursuing its goal of improving users' engagement with their community.  Local businesses, in that case, may stand to actually gain from this shift in emphasis.  

Much more to explore here!