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What social network is best for generating viral content?

2 min read


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Which social network has generated the most viral traffic for your content?

  • Facebook: 51.38%
  • Twitter: 25.41%
  • LinkedIn: 8.29%
  • YouTube: 6.08%
  • Not sure: 5.52%
  • StumbleUpon: 2.21%
  • Other: 1.10%
  • Digg: 0%
  • Reddit: 0%

This week’s results might appear unusual, given Twitter’s reputation for being a clearinghouse for links to all kinds of content. But when you consider that Facebook has about 600 million members to Twitter’s 200 million — and that many of those Twitter accounts are inactive — it’s not so surprising that Facebook would generate the most viral traffic for SmartBrief on Social Media readers.

It’s even less unusual when you consider how these sites are used. Twitter is an indiscriminate platform. We follow people we don’t know, we post links indiscriminately, we @ reply when we could just as easily send a direct message — it all adds up to a very fast moving stream of content where it can be easy to miss a link unless you’re checking your feed constantly. Facebook has a more leisurely pace and the content is more trusted, particularly the content that makes it into the “Top News” portion of the Facebook feed.

LinkedIn and YouTube are about where I would have expected, but StumbleUpon is pretty interesting. The network has been around since 2001, but it has getting a lot more buzz (and members) since its founders bought it back from eBay. And it looks like it’s starting to help SmartBrief readers rake in the traffic — a rare second act in the world of social networks.

Are you surprised by any of these results? What other networks are you using to generate traffic?