Referral traffic from Facebook and X continues to decline – report

In a not-so-surprising revelation, a recent report has confirmed that referral traffic from both Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter) has been consistently declining over the past year. This decline in social media-driven traffic is resulting in a smaller portion of overall visitor numbers for websites.

Data from Similarweb, analyzed by Axios, indicates a steep decline in Facebook referrals to news websites, with an astounding 80% drop since September 2020. Similarly, X traffic has followed suit, experiencing a 60% decline during the same period. This trend has become even more evident as both platforms adapt to changing user habits, particularly the popularity of short-form video content. 

This shift in user behavior and content consumption is redefining social media platforms as entertainment hubs rather than traditional social apps. Users are sharing fewer personal updates, while content consumption is on the rise. Social elements are migrating towards messaging tools.

The decline in link-based referrals necessitates a reevaluation of social media posting strategies. Some publishers have resorted to posting article descriptions within image posts, with the link in the first comment. However, this approach has not significantly boosted link clicks. Others are incorporating more visual elements, such as carousels and videos, to enhance engagement and brand interest.

As referral traffic dwindles, it is time to reconsider the role of social media in branding and engagement efforts. Exploring alternative methods to drive website traffic beyond posting links is becoming essential.

While there is no universal solution, the decline in referral traffic underscores the need for strategic planning. Website managers must recognize that social media may no longer yield the same referral figures as in the past, prompting a shift in approach and a focus on alternative engagement methods.

With the rising popularity of short-form video content, it comes as no surprise that TikTok surpassed Twitter (now X), Facebook, and Instagram in brand engagement, as revealed by a report conducted in early 2023. 

Written by Gizem Yılmaz


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