Which Brand Sectors are Building the Biggest Social Channels?

November 13, 2015

Written by NewsWhip

Social is the new search, and Facebook is the new Google News. In this enormous digital trend, brands are upping their social games.
This week, we’re diving into which sectors have the biggest social channels flowing to brands. We’ve already looked at whether social has become the new search for brands. While publishers stimulate more and more of their traffic from social platforms, most traditional brands still receive more traffic from searches.
Entertainment and media brands like Disney and MTV reign in their social-to-search traffic ratio. Publishers are on top of social media, but there are several other product and service-based industries not far behind.
To explore our breakdown fully, click here. The data comes from SimilarWeb, measuring traffic from May 2015 to October 2015.


Sports franchises glean a large portion of their traffic from social media. Like media companies, sports are also entertainment brands. Due to the nature of games and matches, sports can update across social media in real-time, creating more avenues back to their websites.

Social Media Traffic vs Search Traffic for Sports Brands

sports social search

WWE leads with the most social media traffic, though the major sports franchises aren’t far behind. The NFL, NHL, MLS, and WWE all have less than a 10% difference between their social media and search traffic.

Social channels are a natural fit for sports to share their content. Footage and recaps can be posted as videos on Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, Youtube, and other similar channels. Score updates can be shared on Twitter for instant retweets from news-hungry fans.
Sports media is a never ending conversation. Fans want to participate in their team’s community. Utilizing social media allows sports brands to maximize that engagement.
[bctt tweet=”‘Sports media is a never ending conversation.’ #contentmarketing”]
Diving into the social traffic, we can see just how the sports sectors break down, platform by platform. The chart below shows the average distribution of traffic across social media channels for the sports brands.
sports social traffic breakdown
A little over half of sports traffic on social channels came from Facebook. Reddit took nearly a quarter of traffic, likely due to its fan communities for sports brands and their teams. Traffic from Twitter was at 14%, while Youtube and other channels accounted for the remainder.


Let’s turn to another sector that is universally loved: food, beverage, and restaurant brands. Out of the major players in this sector, there were only two brands whose social media traffic was greater than their search traffic.

Social Media Traffic vs Search Traffic for Food-Related Brands

food social search traffic
We’ve identified Red Bull before for its effective tactics in brand content marketing in social media. Red Bull has been on our top lists of brand publishers for several months now. And again, Red Bull continue to shine as the only brand to derive over 37% of traffic from social media, which is an enormous 15% more than their search traffic. Monster Energy, a competitor to Red Bull, also makes the top five.
doritos social media examples
Doritos is bold, snarky, trendy, and in-your-face across all of its social channels
The other brand that triumphs here is Doritos. Reeling in 20% of traffic from social, the chips brand is quick to embrace new social media channels, like their mobile-only campaigns collaborations with Vine and Youtube celebrities. For nearly a decade now, they’ve launched social-based crowdsourcing campaigns for their Super Bowl ads.
The food and drink sector is more diverse than sports in where they receive their social traffic from. Facebook still reigns supreme. Reddit is again followed by Twitter.
Video channels Dailymotion and Youtube are tied. Though lesser known than Youtube, Dailymotion is responsible for a whopping 67% of Sprite’s social media traffic. LinkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and others divide the rest of our social traffic breakdown.
Out of our top ten, Kraft creates an outlier and wasn’t included in the average. A big portion of their social media traffic comes from Pinterest (45%) and StumbleUpon (33%), as opposed to Facebook (17%). This is likely because they market their website as a recipe source, which speaks to the collecting nature of Pinterest.


In the world of auto brands, we’re saturated by ads on television. It would seem the video marketing of cars brands might directly translate to substantial social media traffic. But the data tells us the numbers are still vastly in search’s favor.

Social Media Traffic vs Search Traffic for Automotive Brands

auto brands social search traffic
None of the examined automobile companies broke over 10% in their average social media traffic. However, Ferrari comes close and is by far the social media winner. It’s already leapt up into our top rankings as the third biggest brand in social engagement in September.
Long seen as an aspirational or luxury brand, Ferrari derives the majority of their social media traffic from Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and Youtube. The brand posts multiple videos a day to Youtube, with videos of test drives, races, and challenges from around the world.
The other car brands follow suit in their traffic breakdown. Facebook, like we’ve seen with the other sectors, still accounts for over half of all social traffic.
auto social traffic breakdown
The breakdown of social media traffic here between Facebook and Reddit isn’t too dissimilar from the food sector. YouTube regains some footing here as compared to the previous sectors, nearly equal to Twitter. And again, Dailymotion sneaks in as an alternative video platform.


As with the auto brands, none of the fashion brands we examined broke past 10% for their social media traffic. Sporting goods brands like Nike and adidas performed better than most apparel brands, but still were meager compared to what we’ve seen for the food and sports sectors.

Social Media Traffic vs Search Traffic for Fashion Brands

fashion brands social search traffic breakdown
ModCloth and Urban Outfitters, which are popular with the Millennial audience, both made it to the top five of fashion brands.
Luxury brands fell at the very the bottom of our list. Brands like Rolex, Burberry, and Tiffany & Co didn’t break past 4% in terms of social media traffic.
Something surprising happens when you break down the social media channels of these top ten brands. The majority of traffic comes from Reddit instead of our usual leader, Facebook.
fashion brands social channels traffic breakdown
Levi has a tremendous amount of traffic from Reddit, at 71%. Most of the traffic comes from two popular communities there directed at men, Male Fashion Advice and Frugal Male Fashion. Over half of adidas’s traffic is also from Reddit, and nearly 24% of that alone is from Frugal Male Fashion. Urban Outfitters, Converse, and American Eagle also receive the majority of their traffic from Reddit’s fashion advice communities.
Though not in our top ten, even the luxury brands receive a portion of their social media traffic from Reddit. The aforementioned Rolex gets 60% of social traffic from Reddit, Burberry receives 32%, and Tiffany & Co has 23%.
[bctt tweet=”For fashion and luxury Reddit eclipses Facebook in social media traffic #contentmarketing”]
Pinterest follows behind Reddit and Facebook. The visual platform is an ideal place for the inspiration and aspiration that fashion provides. Youtube and Twitter round out the other big contenders. International social media platforms Vk (Europe) and weibo (China) also account for a few of the hits.


In the travel sector, none of the major airlines or hotel chains made it into our top ten list. Even non-traditional travel sites, like Expedia and Hotels.com, had less than 2% of their traffic derived from social media platforms.

Social Media Traffic vs Search Traffic for Travel Brands

travel social search traffic
As we saw last week, Disney knows how to work their social media channels. Disney’s travel website, which sees an average of 870,000 visitors a month, created an enormous outlier in our list. And the mouse’s less popular neighbors, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Parks, still managed to make the top ten.
Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb also join the list, beating out traditional travel brands. All three emerged out of the digital space. HostelWorld and WOW Air, a low-cost air carrier like Ryanair and Spirit, also join the list. Their social media outreach might be a result of their target audiencetech-savvy Millennial travelers looking to save some pennies.
travel brands social channels traffic breakdown
Any superiority that Reddit showed with fashion is gone in the travel sector. Facebook reclaims its throne once more in social media traffic for travel brands. Twitter, Reddit, and Youtube grapple for the social media hits after Facebook. Surprisingly insubstantial here is visual board platform Pinterest, which didn’t  rank high enough to show on the graph.

What Have We Learned?

The sports and food industries (thanks to Red Bull and Doritos) lead in social media traffic. Fashion, auto, and travel all follow behind, though Disney has figured out how to outperform all of the other travel brands by an enormous margin.
[bctt tweet=”Reddit is second hottest platform for brands on social, surpassing Twitter #contentmarketing”]
Brands that already have a digital background or Millennial audience like Uber and Modcloth tend to do better at stimulating their traffic from social media. Having compelling content is another incredibly valuable asset. Our previously noted content king Red Bull still triumphs over all the brands examined.
modcloth social media examples
Modcloth targets their Millennial audience with how-to videos, community shout-outs, and geeky/kitschy products that in line with their brand.
For all the sectors except fashion, Facebook commands over half of the traffic. Reddit, Twitter, and Youtube all account for the three top players after that, especially in terms of Reddit’s niche communities.
Next week, we’ll go even deeper into these sectors, beginning with sports. With football season on, we’ll look first at the biggest NFL teams on Facebook. Be sure to check if your fantasy league makes the cut.
In the meantime, for a sneak peek into what brands are creating social media gold, play around on our Spike platform. Spike tracks the social media performance of millions of stories daily, from any publisher, including major brands of all types.

What’s Next:

1) Take a free trial of Spike to see the viral content your brand could be creating

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