[UPDATED on 08/22/11 at 8:17 PDT to add additional comment from StatCounter. Read at bottom.]
The social media sharing war rages on. Let’s take a little walk through some StatCounter data for U.S. social media sharing traffic over the past couple years.
In early 2009, StumbleUpon was the clear leader in its ability to generate a lot of traffic to other websites through social sharing, accounting for 45.9 percent of all directed traffic. The next best was Myspace, at 16.5 percent.
A year later saw MySpace plummeting and the rapid rise of Facebook, which by this time last year dominated social sharing with 51.6 percent of directed traffic. Meanwhile, StumbleUpon had dipped and risen and dipped again, ending up at 27.4 percent in August 2010, amounting to just barely more than half of Facebook’s market share.
Remarkably, a year later, StumbleUpon has been totally resuscitated: the service now accounts for 50.3 percent of all sharing traffic. Facebook, on the other hand, has slipped down to 38.9 percent.
And everyone else? Twitter? reddit? YouTube? Myspace? Digg? Every single one of them is below five percent.
All that is just for U.S. data, however. The global stage looks a bit different:
Worldwide, Facebook makes up 59.8 percent of sharing traffic, while Stumble makes up 27.8 percent. YouTube sits at 5.8 percent. All the other popular social media sites listed above still fall under the five percent mark.
There’s another complicating factor in all this. In its FAQ, StatCounter specifically says that it does not include Google Buzz data in its social media stats because the service employs HTTPS security. But Google Buzz isn’t the only one.
In the beginning of 2011, Facebook then Twitter both started giving users the option to switch on HTTPS as a more secure browsing option. Though Facebook enabled the feature in January, its traffic didn’t start slipping until after April, maybe as more users became aware of the security feature.
Could HTTPS be the reason why StumbleUpon is reclaiming its social media sharing crown from Facebook? A StatCounter spokesperson had only this to say:
UPDATE: Here's an additional statement from StatCounter on it's tracking of referrals:
Although Facebook are allowing https, they are also now running referrals through a non-https redirect which allows us to track all the referrals.
Essentially instead of a user clicking a link and going from https://facebook to a third party site, the user goes from https://facebook to http://facebook to the third party site. As the user is NOT going directly from a https site to a third party, the referral can be tracked.
This is similar to the position with Google+.