For a long time, Facebook was the most visited social network, but it has actually been overtaken by another. In fact, this isn’t even a recent development. Facebook was first passed over a year ago! So which network is it? Most people wouldn’t be surprised to hear the answer, yet probably wouldn’t have guessed it either. Why? Because while we’re all well acquainted with the platform, many still don’t think of it as being a social network.
The answer? YouTube.
According to Compete PRO, YouTube first passed Facebook in June 2014 with 167,848,349 unique visitors compared to 166,497,314 for Facebook. While Facebook recovered in the following two months, YouTube took the lead again in September and hasn’t looked back since. In fact, the gap is only widening. In May 2015, YouTube had roughly 9 million more unique visitors than Facebook.
Interestingly enough, YouTube hasn’t extended the gap by increasing its monthly unique visitors – that number is actually declining. The monthly unique visitors for Facebook, however, are simply declining at a much faster rate.
The Social Case for YouTube
Now, all of the numbers are null and void if YouTube isn’t actually a social network. I mean, I’m sure Google has more monthly unique visitors than Facebook too. Big deal. It doesn’t matter if it’s not a social network. So is YouTube in fact a social network? Most definitely.
Perhaps you haven’t thought of YouTube in that way before, but let’s take a look at some of the functionality found on YouTube:
- Creating a user profile
- Uploading your own content (videos)
- Sharing videos
- Liking videos (or disliking!)
- Commenting on videos
- Liking comments (or disliking!)
- Tagging users in your comments
- Subscribing to channels (similar to following a user)
I mean, if that’s not social, then I don’t know what is. Just look at the stats of the all-time most viewed YouTube video below, Gangnam Style:
In addition to its 2.3 billion views (yes, billion), it boasts nearly 10 million likes and 5 million comments. And notice that conspicuous red “Subscribe” button? And this all for a music video in a language that most viewers don’t even understand. Yeah, I’d say YouTube is pretty social.
The Volume of Traffic Vs. Quality of Traffic
If we accept the premise that YouTube is the most visited social network, it naturally leads to the question, “so what?” What does that actually mean for a website owner? There are two main factors to consider: 1) the volume of traffic YouTube sends to your website and 2) the quality of traffic that YouTube sends to your website.
Volume: You might guess that the social network with the most visitors coming in would naturally be sending the most visitors to other websites. In reality, however, the opposite is true. Surprisingly for all its visitors, YouTube is only responsible for driving 0.01% of overall traffic to websites. Facebook, on the other hand, is the largest social referrer, driving a whopping 24.63% of overall traffic.
Quality: YouTube’s referral traffic does possess one redeeming quality, however, and that is its quality. In fact YouTube referral traffic boasts the most pages per visit (2.99), longest visit duration (228s), and lowest bounce rate (43.2%) of all social networks. While the quality of Facebook’s referral traffic isn’t bad, it pales in comparison to YouTube and falls in the middle of the pack of social networks.
You’re not going to get a lot of traffic coming from YouTube even though it’s high quality traffic. So don’t just abandon the Facebook ship because YouTube is pulling in more visitors now. Ideally, develop a strong social presence on both networks since they both have their own strengths and different demographics.
If you have a service or product that revolves around any kind of “how to” question, YouTube is an especially great platform for your business since many people now use YouTube to learn new skills – like fixing a car, writing a program, or learning a language. Capturing the trust and interest of your target audience on YouTube will push high quality traffic to your website to help you grow your business.