Brand owners who want to get the most out of social media and push visibility for their brands should look to trends for Quarter 2 of 2014. It seems the most leverage comes from measuring how each platform brings referrals. The Shareaholic Social Media Traffic Report for the second quarter of 2014 reveals Facebook still reigns as the site that gives the most return on an investment.

Getting the Most Visibility for Your Brand, Social Media Trends 2014

In April, May and June, the average share of visits from Facebook to account holder sites were 18.51 percent, 18.81 percent and 23.39 percent respectively. Facebook increased its shares by 2.14 from the previous quarter, while all other social media sites saw a decrease. The closest social media site behind Facebook was Pinterest, which saw a 6.38 average share of visits over the last quarter. This average represented a 19.38 percent drop from the previous quarter, while figures for Facebook are a 10.09 percent increase.

Approaching Facebook

The numbers for Quarter 2 give a strong indication of where businesses need to focus in order to build referrals for their brands: Facebook. Many brands that find this information useful already have social plugins on their company websites that they use to get referrals. Visitors to their company sites simply like some element of the page, or the page itself, and their likes display on their Facebook profiles. In some cases, brands have been able to use JavaScript code on the website pages to allow the Facepile plugin to show the photos of everyone who has liked your site page. Often people see photos of others who are their friends or in their Facebook network, and this prompts them to like the page, too.

There are also some other ways to keep followers and fans engaged and continually referring products. One idea that has gained much steam is sponsoring promotions on the Facebook platform itself that allow people to stay engaged with brand products. For example, if your company just released a new line of sunglasses, your latest promotion might be allowing Facebook followers to post a photo of themselves wearing the glasses on your company Facebook page or on their own profile page. This is a good way to keep people talking about the sunglasses and encourage them to visit your site to buy a pair for themselves.

Some people have also found the Good People app very effective for getting referrals. Once installed, it allows page visitors to see reviews and testimonials from the people they know on Facebook. This app not only increases the number of referrals a brand can legitimately earn from satisfied customers, but it also helps to boost brand reputation. The app also allows you to track results, so that you can see exactly what kind of return you are getting for the investment you make in the app.

Using the Study Findings for Pinterest

Pinterest typically provides more visual content for potential referrals just because that is the nature and intent of the platform. Brands are able to post photos of their latest products and services offerings and encourage users to click back to their sites based only on a picture. Some brands have not found ways to take picture posting to the next level of engagement.

Often, Pinterest boards are posted based on a category theme like sports cars, jewelry, hats or desserts. The next step would be to use Pinterest boards to tell a story. The order of posts, combined with compelling short text, holds much promise for referrals. Brands can not only use the Pinterest medium to make suggestions to followers on how to use their specific products, but they can also tell consumers the story of how the product came to be. Nothing builds a strong following like knowing the backstory.

The same kind of crowdsourcing that works on Facebook also applies to Pinterest. Brands can ask brand users to take photos of themselves using the brand and post the photos on special boards. Again, the idea of popularity among friends drives the brand and its good reputation.

Brand owners who like to keep up with their followers can also use Pinterest as an informal focus group to see what followers like, and then give that to them. It is as simple as looking at followers Pinterest boards to see what they are posting.

Other Interesting Statistics

One other fact that the 2014 social media study found that may help brands earn referrals. Twitter and Stumbleupon made decent showings for share of visits. However, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn do not appear to be good at offering referrals. Both YouTube and Google+ offer .06 percent and Linkedin offers .02 percent. Marketing experts suspect that the low numbers on YouTube come from the fact that many companies do not have the resources to make quality videos. Google+ does not seem to have the same influence as other social media platforms. LinkedIn appears to be very insular, catering to a professionals-only following. Each of these networks may offer something else that is valuable for brands, but not much in the way of referrals.