Facebook Gets Goldman Sachs, but StumbleUpon Beats It in Social Media Traffic

StumbleUponA double dose of big news coming from the social media realm this week. Facebook, long acknowledged as the 800-pound gorilla of online networking, kicked things off by getting some major backing from Goldman Sachs. Enough backing to raise Facebook’s valuation to $50 Billion. That’s right, billion with a “B.”

The New York Times‘ Dealbook takes a look at some of the ramifications:

Everybody has at least heard of Facebook, its name is bandied about in traditional media constantly, and the Facebook “Like” button is rapidly becoming a ubiquitous sight when you surf the Web.

In online circles, it was big news when Facebook surpassed Google in Web traffic, but the interesting thing is that new information places them lagging behind another online venture in social media traffic, StumbleUpon. In simplest terms, StumbleUpon generates many more referrals to external pages, a metric very important to those utilizing the platform for marketing.

Design Taxi summarizes:

While Facebook accounted for 38% of page view referrals, StumbleUpon is responsible for 43% of the social media traffic, totaling to about 700 million page views, according to TechCrunch. Last year, the numbers were reversed but StumbleUpon’s recently launched iPhone app ensured its referral traffic surged.

Once more, we see mobile as a powerful driving force. I cannot say I’m surprised.

These numbers were first reported by Oliver Chiang, a contributor to the Forbes website, and were drawn from the well-known analytics site StatCounter. StatCounter tracks 15 million page views, on over 3 million websites every month including the “top seven” social media platforms: StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, MySpace, and Digg. For your edification, check out is this StatCounter chart (notice the uptick as StumbleUpon rises to the top?).

Chiang makes a fascinating, and I believe pertinent, observation in his post:

What’s interesting is how StumbleUpon’s comparatively smaller user base — 13 million compared to Facebook’s 500 million — generates more traffic than Facebook’s. It’s important to note, however, that StumbleUpon may generate a lot of traffic for other websites, but that does not necessarily mean it gets a lot of traffic for its own.

This brings me to my own thoughts on the subject:

  • Everyone is used to hearing about Facebook in the news, and generally coming out on top when it is mentioned. Now that Goldman Sachs has brought more of a traditional air of respectability and considerable financial clout to Facebook, this trend will increase. Additionally, Facebook will see even further growth with Goldman Sachs funding and advising on future acquisitions.
  • As word that StumbleUpon leads Facebook in referral traffic gets out, I think it is quite possible that similar financial backing for the company may materialize. There is a near certainty that marketers, promoters, and others with memes to spread will flock to the platform. After all, it beat the 800-pound gorilla — so it must be good.
  • Both companies are now in quite enviable positions, and Goldman Sachs’ entry into the fray has been a major step into the mainstream for social-media-based businesses.

What do you think? Are we starting 2011 with an increased air of legitimacy for social media, at least from an investment standpoint? Will StumbleUpon see its growth rocket as news of its reach spreads? What acquisitions do you think Facebook will make now that it has Goldman Sachs advising and funding it? Let us know in the comments!

Source: “This Week In Social Media: Goldman’s $450 Million Investment In Facebook Is A Win/Win For Both Companies,” Business Insider, 01/05/11
Source: “StumbleUpon referrals pass Facebook,” Business Journal, 01/05/11
Source: “StumbleUpon, Not Facebook Top Source of Social Media Traffic,” Design Taxi, 01/05/11
Source: “StumbleUpon Vs Facebook: Best Source of Social Media Traffic,” Online Social Media, 01/05/11
Source: “StumbleUpon Passes Facebook As Top Source Of Social Media Traffic,” Forbes, 01/03/11
Image by mobology, used under its Creative Commons license.

About George Williams

George “Loki” Williams is the community and brand manager for award wining game company Savage Mojo, Ltd. and the owner of SocialGumbo, LLC, an online consultancy specializing in Web content and online communications. Loki has produced content for clients including the Open Society Institute, National Association of Broadcasters, Kobold Press, and Kaiser Permanente. His work has been seen or written about in The New York Times, The BBC, Air America, The Gambit Weekly, and NOLA.com, among others.

  

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