Why Facebook doesn’t send traffic to your website


It’s really easy to go to your share button at the end of your website article and place your new creation on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites. You even take time to create customized Twitter and Facebook pages. You do all this “but” you get little traffic from these sources to your website. Why?

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project on “Why Americans use Social Media” provides some insight. In essence, people use social media sites to connect with friends and family. Everything else (including your website) just gets in the way.

Summary of the report:

“Two-thirds of online adults (66%) use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn. These internet users say that connections with family members and friends (both new and old) are a primary consideration in their adoption of social media tools. Roughly two-thirds of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites, while half say that connecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these technologies.

Other factors play a much smaller role—14% of users say that connecting around a shared hobby or interest is a major reason they use social media, and 9% say that making new friends is equally important. Reading comments by public figures and finding potential romantic partners are cited as major factors by just 5% and 3% of social media users, respectively.”

Social media sites do send some traffic:

Social media sites do send traffic to your website according to some who have a tight-knit group of like-minded professional friends and the results are undoubtedly different for the famous and major corporations or big government agencies.

But for most of us with thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers, we just don’t see the results in our statistics. Yep, there are times when you get considerable traffic from StumbleUpon and other sources but the focus needs to be on appeasing Google and Bing with posting on social media sites a secondary priority.

Best, Len.

Source: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Why-Americans-Use-Social-Media/Main-report.aspx

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Andrew Krzmarzick

I think the assumption in this post is that an organization is using Facebook pages, right?

I’ve seen significantly different results with Facebook advertising to drive traffic toward a specific goal.

Any thoughts there?

Chris Poirier

I’m willing to believe it as stated. I multi-post content on twitter, facebook, google+, linkedin, etc to drive interested parties to my blog or postings. According to my stats twitter drives the most traffic back to my main page and/or articles. Google+ is a close second and straight up web searches falls number three in driving content.

Now granted, if I paid for adverts on those sites, yeah MAYBE I might get more traffic. Though it seems places that content can be shared faster or pointed to are driving people to click. (i.e., people looking for a specific topic drives clicks and not randomly seeing something while i’m checking on my farm, city, and/or mafia..)

Leonard Sipes

Hi Chris: Social media sites drive more traffic than search? Is your site new? It should be the other way around. Best, Len.

Chris Poirier

@Leonard: It is fairly new but I am part of a solid community on twitter so that drives over 40% of my traffic. Search easily makes up for the rest. Though my community on Google+ is stepping up a lot too. When I was doing work with ZoKnowsGaming we were driven almost primarily by search, so I agree with your point.

Leonard Sipes

Hi Andrew: It doesn’t matter if it’s a page or profile, Facebook and the other sites send little traffic to most websites. Best, Len.

Stephen Peteritas

Plain and simple if a webpage is cooler and deeper than another webpage it simply won’t push traffic back. So in order to get traffic from Facebook you’d need to have a deeper/better site than Facebook… good luck

Chris Poirier

@Stephen: Um..wow.. Where to even begin on that statement..

Based on this discussion your claim doesn’t hold any water what so ever. The point is driving traffic. People have no idea what content you’re providing until you click the link and follow it through. If your point was true, then there would be traffic flow from Facebook, but the discussion @Leonard has provided suggests this isn’t happening. (A click is a click, so that would be collected and the data doesn’t support that.)

Next, Facebook isn’t a destination in this model, it’s a pass through, an advertiser, etc. (Which happens to be part of Facebook’s core business model.) In terms of “driving” content the basic discussion here is that it simply isn’t happening. In fact, what this supports is that basic internet searches are currently driving more content “click throughs” than Facebook and/or any other social media platform for that matter. (Now my personal data supports that Twitter is actually my largest driver, but closely followed by Google+ and internet searches. I do post on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, GovLoop, and GovintheLab however the aforementioned are my primary drivers.)

Truth be told, content drives click throughs and “hits.” Are you writing on something people care about? Is it well thought out? Is it well presented, etc. Ultimately, what ever “delivery” model you pick the people seeking the content will find it and use it. (Hence support for basic internet search as the primary driver.)
Granted this may not be the case in marketing adventures, etc however for topic driven content, I believe @Leonard is dead on.

Sexy websites might get clicks up front, but they will rarely succeed in winning true followers without content over time. (Facebook only “succeeds” as people focus on the people..not the content. Check out this interesting piece from @Mashable on how people “absorb” Facebook Pages: Social Eye Profile Tracking.) This is a standard “impact” issue and discussion, but different from the point I believe @Leonard is aiming for here.

Just my two cents 😉

Kevin Lanahan

Did a quick look at my Google Analytics and find that about 2% of my traffic in the last 30 days has come from Facebook. We post news, blogs, videos and other new material on FB (and Twitter).

We have 33,700 or so fans of our FB page, which is .5% of our population in Missouri.

So, compared to Google, FB doesn’t drive a lot of traffic. However, we engage with thousands of Missourians on FB that wouldn’t normally think to have any contact with a big ol’ government agency.

Social media is about engagement. A web page is about information.

The two intersect, and it is important to provide links from social media to web pages, but social media doesn’t exist to drive users to the web site (that’s the rationale you give to bosses who don’t use social media and don’t understand why an agency should be there). We use social media to interact in a meaningful way with people who we do not reach through more traditional means.

Andrew, I’d also be interested to see what kind of traffic ads can contribute to targeted hits.

Chris Poirier

@Kevin: There seems to be a fundamental flaw with what you just said. If social media isn’t driving people to the content then what on earth are you engaging them on that has anything to do with the content? (Or put another way, if people aren’t clicking through to see what you have to say on a topic, then how are they actively “engaging” on a topic?)
I happen to agree that “social media” is an engagement tool, however engagement is a two way street: 1.) Someone provides content on a topic of interest to people 2.) People absorb the content and engage in discourse, etc on the topic. If people are “engaging” your organization doesn’t, that imply they are absorbing the content? (Clicking through to actually read the details and absorb information?) More important, if they aren’t using the content, then what exactly is the value add from two-way engagement? There is no flow of ideas, concepts, etc just random statements, followers, and media.

I think the other issue with this discussion is the fact that it is openly assumed in today’s world that engagement is NOT occurring outside the major “social media outlets” like twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc. and I would in fact argue directly against that fact. Most blog set ups have a “social element” now that allows for that engagement. (Read=two-way street.) So, in the end, all main stream social media is doing is providing an avenue that most people use and are comfortable with (just as you stated) to drive users towards detailed content. However, as we’ve found out here, the statistics do not support this.

So what is actually taking place?

Leonard Sipes

Thanks Chris and Kevin and Stephen: I guess my primary objective in writing the article was getting people to understand that there is not a direct relationship between Facebook and other social sites and page views on your website. For example, I had over 100 comments on Blogger and lots of discussions on an article I posted but not one page view to my site. That’s not to say that I don’t invest time in social sites (I do) but my explications as to traffic back are limited.

To people new to the experience, they are confused by low numbers to their site when they are having healthy conversations on other platforms (like this one). And yes, I sometimes get more hits from social media sites than search.

But the bottom-line is, generally speaking, people who come to Facebook or Gov Loop don’t want to leave. There are lots of exceptions but the observation generally holds true.

Thanks for the interactions. Best, Len.

Chris Poirier

This is sort of related to our discussion: http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/01/frictionless-kills-facebook-social-article-readers-dead/ Apparently this company came up with a way to kill media specific facebook apps and send readers straight to the actual content.

Two things: 1) People are reverting back to simply give me the content instead of installing another privacy invading facebook app 2) It links people straight to content, which is what I was talking about and this is important. People want to get to what they are looking for. People who want to surf facebook will, but people who are looking for actual content, will leave and use other tools to find the content.

Leonard Sipes

Hi Chris: Thanks for the continuing comments. That’s why I say it’s a matter of quality versus quantity. People who really want your content will find their way from Facebook to your site. But most people skim “unless” it’s exactly what they want.

What I said in another post:

Social media has no clear definition as to content or purpose; it depends on your audience and what you are trying to achieve. You create material that matches learning styles (audio, video, fact sheets, story-based articles) and you offer unique perspectives that no one else is providing. You place all on a website and additional channels (i.e., YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+) and you sit back and see what happens.

Whether you represent government or nonprofits or associations or corporations, social media represents an “invitation” to converse. It’s not a requirement. So our critics are right, it’s mostly a one-way street.

That said, it becomes a matter of quality versus quantity.

Your job is to offer great, user-friendly content in unique ways. If people learn or engage by donating to a cause or purchasing a product then you have accomplished your goals.

There are many additional benefits of social media that accomplish agency goals that are too numerous to discuss here. We “do” social media because it benefits our agencies “and” our audiences.http://leonardsipes.com/is-social-media-really-social/