Facebook Average Referral Traffic to Media Sites Up 170% This Year
Flexing its muscles as a public-facing forum, Facebook reported Monday that the average referral track from Facebook to media sites jumped 170% last year.
Facebook also disclosed that from September 2012 to September 2013, Time’s referral traffic rose 208%, BuzzFeed’s increased by 855% and Bleacher Report experienced a boost of 1,081%. Facebook also announced a feature called Stories to Share for page managers of media firms that recommends which stories to share on Facebook.
Andy Mitchell, director of partnerships for Facebook, attributes much of the growth in referrals to improvements in Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. “We’re getting better at showing the right story at people who are interested in it,” he says. In addition, Facebook has shared best practices with media firms, which help them post more effectively, he says.
New research from SimpleReach bolsters the claim. SimpleReach found that Facebook drives more traffic to media sites than any other social media platform.
Meanwhile, Facebook had some advice to media firms: Post more. Facebook worked with 29 media sites over a seven-day period recently and found a greater number of posts “frequently” increases referral traffic by more than 80%. During that test period the site posted 57% more articles, which netted an 89% increase in outbound clicks to their domains plus 10% more Likes on average. The number of net fans per page rose 49%.
That said, Mitchell does acknowledge that the law of diminishing returns applies: At some point, you can overload fans with too many posts. Facebook doesn’t have a recommended number of posts. Mitchell says media properties have to determine a figure on their own.
Along the same lines, Stories to Share helps those media firms figure out which stories to post next. The recommendation widget is pretty straightforward: It analyzes your homepage to see which stories people are sharing the most on Facebook even though the media property hasn’t yet shared it through its Facebook account. That feature is going live on Monday with 1,5000 news organizations. Stories to Share had been in beta with a handful of news organizations (the company declined to identify which ones) over the past few weeks.
The emphasis on media partners comes as Facebook has recently revved competition with the much-smaller Twitter for ad-spending opportunities related to real-time marketing like second-screen conversations and trending news items. Encouraging news organizations to post more often will aid a Trending Articles feature that seems to be a likely next move for the company.
Image: Getty/KIMIHIRO HOSHINO