We looked at awe.sm data from the first 6 months of 2011 spanning links to over 33,000 sites, and the numbers were astounding:
- only 24.4% of clicks on links shared on Twitter had twitter.com in the referrer;
- 62.6% of clicks on links shared on Twitter had no referrer information at all (i.e. they would show up as ‘Direct Traffic’ in Google Analytics);
- and 13.0% of clicks on links shared on Twitter had another site as the referrer (e.g. facebook.com, linkedin.com).
Twitter is the quintessential modern web service — all the ways to consume Twitter, even Twitter.com, are just clients for the Twitter API — so the failure to effectively track it using such an outmoded methodology as referrer analysis should come as little surprise. Twitter’s openness and the many resulting ways users interact with it are what have made it so successful, but they are also the things that have made its value largely invisible to publishers.