Which Social Networks Drive the Highest Quality Visitors?

It didn't seem like it at the time but a few years ago, when there was just YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, managing a brand's social media presence was relatively easy. But as each new network springs up - Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr - so time spent managing these networks expands and return for that time contracts as audiences splinter.Of course, there are lots of ways to decide how to split your time between those different networks. One of those ways is basing it on the quality of the traffic those networks are driving to your site. And one of the ways of measuring quality may be looking at how social referrers behave when they reach your site. That's something which a study from social sharing and analytics company Shareaholic has shed some light on.They analysed 3 metrics - average visit duration, pages per visit and bounce rate - for visitors referred to their network of sites from the top 8 social media platforms. The data was gathered over 6 months (September '13 to February '14 inclusive) across 200,000 sites reaching in excess of 250m unique users per month. You can see the results below:Social_Media_Post_Click_EngagementYouTube was the clear winner with a bounce rate under 50%, 3 pages visited and almost 4 minutes spent on the 'referred to' site post click. Google+ and LinkedIn were both successful in driving quality of traffic, although very little quantity. Facebook and Twitter delivered remarkably similar results - bounce rates of 56%, around 2 pages visited and just over 2 minutes spent on the brand's site. Pinterest's results were surprisingly low. Reddit and StumbleUpon's results were predictably low.That YouTube topped the list was no surprise. Video is so engaging that it's likely to drive a high quality of social traffic. We find similar results with our online video campaigns, with the quality of traffic to advertisers' sites often superior to that driven by organic search.The differences between Google+/LinkedIn and Facebook/Twitter can likely be explained by quantity of updates. Facebook and Twitter are more popular, so generate more social content for their users to consume. In this environment, a 'click and skim' mentality is likely to be adopted as users struggle to keep up with the sheer volume of updates in their newsfeeds. Users of LinkedIn and Google+ aren't drowning in so much content.Pinterest's poor performance is surprising, given the engaging nature of visuals. The results from Reddit and StumbleUpon demonstrate that if you haven't cracked social sharing sites already, it probably isn't worth the time or effort.Of course, this study only provides part of the story. There's no breakdown per business sector, no analysis of behaviour post impression (only post click, and not everyone exposed will click) and no insight into behaviour post impression or post click for advertising. But it does at least highlight the importance of quality of traffic in return on investment calculations for social media.The eyeballs your content generates is key to awareness driving at the top of the funnel, but those also wanting to build brand preference and purchase intent are best to look at the quality of traffic each network, and each piece of content, is driving to their site and make their resource allocation decisions appropriately.