An in-house analysis we've completed has shown Pinterest content delivers traffic long after Facebook and Twitter content has stopped doing so.
As you'd expect from a company in our field, we conduct regular monitoring of our social media activity in terms of the traffic it refers to us, from what sources and much more.
Having assessed the last quarter of traffic referrals from social media, the results demonstrate a consistent delivery of traffic from Pinterest boards for much longer periods of time than any other social media platform.
Our results from Twitter and Facebook show an almost identical volume of referrals over a similar 'lifetime'. Tweets have the shortest life in our results, with an average expiry time of just under 3 hours.
Facebook content, as we've mentioned before, has an average life of just over 3 hours, but the differences between it and Twitter are so negligible it hardly merits separation.
We've also noticed a significant rise in Pinterest traffic as an overall percentage of all referrals.
The core statistics - referral volume
Let's look at the referral volumes to begin with. These are the percentage of visitors split by platform across the 3 major referral platforms (social media only) to our site.
This doesn't add up to 100% because we do of course have other social media channels referring traffic to us (YouTube, Stumbleupon etc), but between them, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest deliver our core traffic outside of organic search (an entirely different thing altogether):
1. Twitter - 47%
2. Pinterest - 26%
3. Facebook - 13%
Twitter has a clear lead and that is to be expected. It enables communication with existing and targeted new audiences with such ease it is nearly always going to be a major referrer in our sector.
However, Pinterest is making major ground. To oust Facebook is no mean feat, even in a single statistical analysis such as referrals.
This is where the biggest surprise came. Content 'life' should be considered the length of time for which anything you publish is likely to deliver referrals to you. As mentioned above, we know the life of the average Facebook and Twitter post.
Pinterest decimates both platforms in this respect.
In our analysis, the longest Facebook life was just over 72 hours. The longest Twitter content life was just short of 4 days.
The longest life of Pinterest content was a staggering 11 weeks in the period assessed. More importantly, it was one of just a mass of content delivering visitors in excess of 6 weeks after being originally posted.
In a nutshell, that means that Pinterest content was delivering traffic, consistently, at least 10 times longer than Twitter or Facebook content.
In the best case we studied, it delivered the SAME content (yes, the very same link, republished on Pinterest) a remarkable 29 times longer than Facebook had managed.
How does it do it?
One of the major factors, in our opinion, is the higher inclination for Pinterest users to search content. Couple this with the aesthetic nature of browsing and the ease with which a user can find a Board of interest - and you automatically open your content up to a potentially longer life.
Pinterest users browse or search for items of interest.
When they find them they'll Like them or Follow you, but they appear much more likely to look deeper into your overall published content.
The fact that you're ultimately categorising content also means that the appeal of one item of content on a Board may well result in the rest of the content appealing (as long as you've created your boards reasonably consistently).
Add to this the fact that you're posting an image - linking to content, and you can understand why, if the teaser image is attractive enough, there is more likelihood of a user visiting your site to view the content.
However, this doesn't mean the quality of visitor, the length of visit or their journey through your site is any less in quality - because our statistics suggest this isn't the case.
Indeed in 90% of our Pinterest results, visitors stayed on the site for 18% longer than referrals from Facebook and Twitter (averaged).
The benefits are clear and we've outlined most of them above, but here's a summary of the advantages we've certainly seen:
What do we do?
We've created a good and varied mix of Pinterest content, and our content is always delivered to target an area. We do republish content on Pinterest but it is interspersed with content unique to that platform.
We try to keep to aesthetically pleasing, attractive or high impact teaser images.
We engage - we actively engage with other Pinterest users. We also engage with any of our Twitter followers who open a Pinterest account (Pinterest tells you if a Twitter follower opens a Pinterest account).
We like their posts (when they're of interest to us) and we actively follow publishers of content we find very interesting.
Interestingly, you don't need a high number of Pinterest followers to attract good volume or high quality referrals - because as we've mentioned many will find you through searching for a particular phrase or word and may not ever follow you; but they still deliver a referral.
In respect of conversion to customers, the results we have to date suggest a conversion percentage approximately 7% higher than that of Twitter and Facebook. However, we're operating in a Business To Business market and we support the view that significantly higher conversion rates can be capitalised on by retailers in particuiar.
We'll continue to monitor this and publish a quarterly update in January 2013.
However, we've seen enough to convince us there is nothing unusual in these statistics - the trend is very clear. Pinterest delivers traffic long after Twitter and Facebook have stopped.