After 10 years and billions of users, Facebook is still the biggest driver of social referral traffic - and an invaluable tool for content marketers.

While other social marketing upstarts like Instagram and Pinterest may have more cache, Facebook is still a reliable way to drive traffic to businesses’ websites. In fact, the runners up aren’t even close. According to a study by Shareaholic, the dominant social network is responsible for almost one-quarter of all referral traffic on the web.

Facebook came in first place with 23.39 percent of referral traffic over the course of Shareaholic’s research, and number two Pinterest was way down at 5.72 percent. Twitter came in third, and it only accounted for 1.03 percent of the internet’s referral traffic. What might be the most amazing thing about Facebook’s dominance is that it’s been growing rapidly during 2014. The 23.39 percent was a recent high and up 10 percent since March.

Any pronouncements Facebook is dead as a social network should be taken with an enormous grain of salt. That being said, there are a few caveats to this data content marketers should bear in mind.

1. Shareaholic estimates all social networks combined account for 31.07 percent of websites’ referral traffic. Social isn’t a magic bullet, and organic search, email marketing and other channels need to be used in order to complete the traffic puzzle. 

2. Facebook may be the 800-pound gorilla in the room, but not all brands have large target audiences to drive this kind of traffic. Niche audiences that are active and engaged might prefer Twitter or YouTube, depending on the industry. So Facebook may not fulfill all of a company’s social needs.

Getting social content to go

Facebook apparently isn’t resting on its laurels. Its latest venture, Save, is a way for social users to bookmark content for later consumption. In theory, this will allow the network to create even more referral traffic, as users who might not have the time to read content can remind themselves to do so later. Brands should be particularly pleased, as they can create the kinds of in-depth content that helps achieve SEO visibility without worrying their social audiences won’t be able to invest time in it.

However, some of the network’s experiments have fallen flat in the past – like Paper, which Facebook seemingly used to turn News Feeds into something like Twitter. However, regardless of what tweaks are made to Facebook functionality, it’s still one of the best places to get customers and prospects engaged with content despite all the controversy about shrinking organic reach.

 Have you found that Facebook is still doing the heavy lifting for your company’s social traffic? 
Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.