What the ‘Like’ button means for web traffic

The new-this-year-yet-somehow-already-ubiquitous Facebook Like button has been around just long enough to generate some interesting numbers relating to Facebook users and web traffic.

The button, which launched in April at f8, Facebook’s developer conference, is now present on roughly 2 million sites around the web, from sports sites to news organizations and many other kinds of publishers.

A media analytics lead on Facebook’s Developer Network Insights team crunched some numbers and found that Facebook Likes not only generate interesting data about the “likers” (a.k.a. Facebook users who are also active on your website) themselves; this data also speaks volumes about clickthrough rates, time on-site and other engagement metrics.

Stats about people

On average, a Facebook user who “likes” your content has more than double the number of friends than does a typical Facebook user. This could mean the user is more “social” or more influential; on the other hand, it could mean the user is an attention-seeking narcissist.

While it’s fatuous to read too much into that statistic, the number does show that the average “liker” is more active from a social-web standpoint.

An even more interesting stat about the likers is that they click on five times more links to external sites than the typical Facebook user. If clickthroughs are what you’re looking for from your social media strategy, this is good news.

Here’s a stat just for news sites: The average Facebook user who “likes” content on a news website is 34 — that’s about 2 decades younger than the average newspaper subscriber.

We’ve known for some time that the future of journalism and social media are, at this point, inextricably linked; this stat provides a little hard evidence for that conclusion.

Stats about traffic

Most website owners are aware that Twitter refers a ton of traffic. It’s meant to be a content-referral network, so link-sharing and clickthroughs are a given in many cases.

The Facebook “Like” button, however, might be bringing Facebook closer to competing with Twitter in the area of referral traffic, though.

Since the button launched and was integrated on millions of sites, many publishers are reporting large increases in traffic specifically due to this kind of social plugin. ABC News reported a 190 percent increase; Gawker’s traffic shot up by 200 percent; Sporting News said their site traffic was up by a shocking 500 percent; and NBA.com said that Facebook had become their second-largest referral source.

Facebook relays messages from publishers saying that these users “are more engaged and stay longer when their real identity and real friends are driving the experience through social plugins.”

As an example, NHL.com reported that pages per user was up by 92 percent, time on-site was up by 85 percent, video-viewing increased by 86 percent more videos and overall visits went up by 36 percent.

Clearly, Facebook is only part of social media referral traffic, but it’s becoming a larger part as the network grows and users become accustomed to interacting with third-party and external content from within the comfort of their social graph.

Charles Y.

Charles has been working as a webmaster since 1998. Since then, he has had his hands in thousands of websites and has helped millions get online through a company he partially owns called Web Host Pro.

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