When the Mashable post on social media traffic was published, I read it without much surprise. Facebook is huge and getting huger. Then I saw the same charts on another blog, and then another. That last time I noticed something hidden in the charts. My first thought was that the data must be flawed in some way, but there are two quotes that explain a little about the data:
As of March 2010, Facebook traffic made up 41% of all traffic on a list of popular social destinations.
So, the traffic data was for “a list of popular social destinations”. This makes it sound like casual social network use would trump other uses. However, they do include another nugget about the data:
For whatever reason, the data is limited to US users. However, the data does include home, work and school uses, so there is still a good cross section of traffic. So, what is my point? First, look at this traffic graph.
If you look close enough (or click the picture to make it bigger), you will see something interesting near the bottom. The gray and green lines are what I want to focus on. The gray line is LinkedIn, typically considered a stodgy business networking site. The green line is Twitter. In the US, LinkedIn seems to be getting more traffic than Twitter! Is that really possible? Probably not and I do not know how the data was collected, but it does give us something to think about.
Just to make sure I was not missing something, I looked at another chart. If you look at this chart, you can see that it shows the same general idea of LinkedIn growing faster than Twitter.
If you look back at the first chart, you will see a big jump in traffic in addition to the steady growth. The only news I was able to find during the July through September time was the launch of the advanced people search or faceted search. This is really cool functionality, but could advanced search capabilities really have spurred that much growth?
Now for the reality check. First, remember that this is US only data. Also, because I did not speak to Mashable or comScore, I do not know the method for gathering the data. It could be using pageviews on the sites themselves which really makes the Twitter data questionable. Given that Twitter recently announced how much traffic they really get, we have significant doubts that LinkedIn is growing faster than Twitter.
UPDATE: Interesting timing on this, but LinkedIn just posted about some really nice sharing improvements.
However, if you look at the growth of LinkedIn compared to MySpace and GMail, you see an interesting trend. LinkedIn is definitely still growing and at a very good rate. This is an interesting trend to keep an eye on.
Please note, all images taken from the Mashable post. Please read the original as it is quite interesting.