Anatomy of a Traffic Surge from Various Social Networks

I’ll be analyzing referral traffic patterns for the three large social networks I get most of my traffic from: Facebook, Reddit and Pinterest. I don’t have much  traffic from Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon, or BuzzFeed so you’ll have to look elsewhere to find those traffic patterns.

All graphs used cover the same exact time scale, Sep 1 2013 to Feb 24 2014.

Facebook Traffic Anatomy

My Facebook referrals deliver a massive amount of traffic which tapers off to to a small traffic trickle after a day or two. It’s hard to see on this graph, but the slow period after my spike of 10,000 visitors at the end of 2013 is about 100 visitors a day. That’s a decay of around 99%.


Graph represents ~10% of total traffic for this time period.

Reddit Traffic



Graph represents ~2.5% of total traffic from this time period.

Reddit traffic seems to decay at about the same rate and amount. Both Facebook and Reddit feature similarly time-sensitive news feeds which is why their traffic patterns are so similar. But Pinterest works a little bit differently…

Why I Love Pinterest

Pinterest delivers a surge of traffic that stays put which is why I’ve been focusing more and more on promoting there.


Graph represents ~19% of total traffic for this time period.

Unlike the other social networks above, Pinterest isn’t time sensitive. A post on Pinterest propagates from user to user, so every time it gets “pinned” it’s published fresh to each new pinner’s network. Rather than taking a couple days, decay takes months and at least for me, has leveled off to a full 25% of its initial traffic spike. That’s 25 times better for long-term traffic than either Facebook or Reddit.

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