Last month MG Siegler wrote a post on TechCrunch that claimed that LinkedIn was now sending ‘far more’ traffic to TechCrunch than Twitter.
A lot of things in the article didn’t sit well with me. I’ve had access to the Google Analytics statistics on a number of high-trafficked websites and I’ve never seen any significant referrals from LinkedIn. I also knew that Google’s take on what constituted traffic from Twitter was unreliable. But I figured that maybe it was different at TechCrunch, a technology blog that covered LinkedIn quite heavily and was therefore likely to see a lot of referrers from shares on that site. Maybe, as Siegler suggested, the recently-launched LinkedIn Today social news mailshot was a total game-changer.
Siegler’s intentions were sound but he made a number of fundamental errors in his piece, notably that he was actually talking about referrer data from Twitter.com, and not Twitter per se (he later realised his mistake and amended his post, although not conclusively). That is, we know that Twitter.com only accounts for a certain percentage of all Twitter usage, so by definition it must then also account for an equal (or, more likely, lower) percentage of Twitter referrer traffic. A large chunk of those referrals come from Twitter clients such as TweetDeck and HootSuite, as well as the myriad of smartphone apps and m.twitter.com.
There’s no doubt that referrals from LinkedIn have increased in the past few months, but LinkedIn isn’t anywhere close to Twitter’s level as a source of traffic for the majority of websites across the internet. In fact, LinkedIn’s numbers could be somewhat deceptive and probably shouldn’t be claiming any lion’s share of credit at all. And now we have the stats to prove it.