World’s leading link shortener, Bitly issued a report which indicates that Facebook’s influence has increased significantly from Q3 to Q4 with the largest boost coming from mobile devices. Facebook, they say has taken proactive steps to resolve the issue of dark social-  those that have no referrer data and can’t be measured by web analytics tools. By uncloaking the sources of content with no referrer, the number of hits has shot up.

Bitly crunches huge amounts of data every month. It encodes more than 600M links and processes 8B clicks on those links. This gives them incredible insight into behaviours on the web.

Bitly’s report suggests that Facebook’s influence jumped 8.6 percent during the fourth quarter overall and 30.2 percent on mobile. That doesn’t mean Facebook’s influence actually grew that much — it means that clicks formerly attributed to “dark social” are now being correctly counted as Facebook’s clicks.  Mobile hits have shot up by a whopping 30.2% in the last quarter indicating the influence of social media on mobile devices.

“Everybody knows Facebook is big, and everyone knows Facebook is driving a significant volume of traffic,” Bitly CEO Mark Josephson told VentureBeat. “But in Q4, they solved a significant part of dark social — traffic or referrers that marketers or publishers don’t know where it’s coming from. … Facebook is bigger than people think they are.”

In an earlier report, Bitly said that looking back at three previous versions of Facebook’s iOS app, 12 percent of all traffic coming through the app had had no known referrer. This was a major problem for Facebook and its marketing and publishing partners, Josephson explained. By not being able to accurately measure its reach, both Facebook and its partners lost out on being able to fully monetize it.

Last week, Facebook reported its fourth quarter earnings, and said that of its 1.39 billion monthly active users, 1.19 billion used the company’s mobile tools, up 26 percent from the same time a year ago. “Their focus has been on driving their audience from desktop to mobile,” Josephson said, “and they’ve done it really successfully.”

The report also says that the overall twitter traffic dropped slightly from Q3 to Q4 in 2014. Although traffic fell across devices, traffic from desktop and tablet were the most hard hit; decreasing by 10.1% and 10.5% respectively.


(Image credit: Charis Tsevis)

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