Shareaholic recently released an analysis of the traffic sources of over 300,000 sites and found that traffic from Facebook has dramatically risen over the last few years, and now drives a quarter of all web traffic. This is a significant proportion of traffic, and raises the question – should Facebook marketing be more of a focus for websites looking to increase the volume of traffic to their site?
Is it relevant to you?
Well, as with most marketing questions, the answer is… it depends. Whether these statistics are relevant to you firstly depends on what 300,000 sites the data was based on. I can fairly confidently say that the stats would be significantly different across New Zealand based websites, with none of the sites I monitor having anywhere near ¼ of their traffic coming from Facebook.
However, this does not mean that this report is not relevant to New Zealand businesses that are online. Often, New Zealand trails behind countries like the United States, and looking to these more developed online markets can be a good indicator for what will happen in the future in New Zealand. As a starting point, I would look at the trends in traffic sources for your own site. Even if the numbers are low for social referrals, an upward or downward trend could give you an indication for what you should expect in the future.
So what other aspects should you consider when deciding whether or not to invest time and money in social media platforms such as Facebook? Some of the top considerations I want to highlight are; how effective other traffic sources are at driving traffic to your site, your target market, and engagement levels.
Effectiveness of other traffic sources
Paid and organic search is becoming increasingly competitive, particularly in some markets. This could mean that you are spending more money on Adwords, SEO, etc, and getting the same or lower traffic levels from these methods. If this is the case, it could be beneficial to look at other sources of traffic (such as Facebook) to compliment your existing strategy and ensure that you get the highest return for the lowest possible investment. However, if you are finding that your investments in AdWords and SEO are indeed working well for you, and your traffic levels from these sources are continuing to increase, then it could make sense to increase investment in these areas before looking at significant investment in Facebook and other social media channels.
Is your target market active on Facebook and other Social Media platforms? This may seem an obvious consideration, but can be overlooked when businesses hear amazing success stories from websites successfully using social media platforms to drive traffic and brand awareness and want to try it for themselves.
In a 2014 survey, it was found that 66% of online men used Facebook, compared to 77% of online women. Online 18-29 year olds were most likely to use Facebook, followed by the 30-49 age bracket. However, the 65+ age group showed the largest growth from 2013 to 2014.
However, this data is also not specific to New Zealand, but can help to give you a rough guide as to whether your target market is on Facebook. A better way to find approximate user numbers for your target market can be to go through the Facebook ad creation process, enter your targeting criteria, and Facebook will give you a potential reach.
Data on the demographics of other key social networking platforms can be found here.
Another important consideration is how your target market engages differently on different social media platforms. One of the reasons behind the increase in traffic from Facebook could be that Facebook users are generally more engaged than on other platforms. A significant reason for this is the amount of time spent on Facebook, with 42 minutes being the average time spent on Facebook per day in the US. This means users on Facebook are more likely to engage with brands as they tend to be looking through pages on Facebook rather than just checking for updates and then leaving again.
However, search marketing still beats out social when it comes to these users being most likely to be in the ‘purchasing’ head space as they are specifically searching for a product/service/solution (rather than browsing) and have intent to purchase.
So the next question would be: once users click through from Facebook and other social media sites, are they likely to convert? One study we found recorded an average conversion rate from Facebook of only 0.061%, which is a lot lower than what we tend to see from organic and paid search sources. However, another source put the conversion rate of Facebook at 0.71%, which is a massive difference. So what should you take away from these statistics? For me, it would be that Facebook traffic can convert well relative to investment levels, but you won’t know for sure if it will convert well for your particular business until you try it.
Another thing to consider when comparing conversion rates across search and social media is the impact of word of mouth. Research we have read suggests that 80% of all purchase funnels involve word of mouth. Recommendations and reviews from Facebook friends and other Facebook users can occur on Facebook and contribute to the conversion, but not be given any of the credit.
Whether the latest statistics regarding Facebook now driving a quarter of all web traffic is relevant to you or not depends on all the factors discussed throughout this article. However, we suggest that if you do decide to start investing time and money into Facebook that you initially start with a low investment and measure the results and effectiveness for your specific business. That is the only way you will know for sure if Facebook marketing is right for your business.
For more analysis of the Shareaholic report go to https://blog.shareaholic.com/social-media-traffic-trends-01-2015/
Leanne discovered her passion for marketing and data during her Bachelor of Management Studies majoring in Marketing. Leanne’s wide knowledge of digital marketing, in particular paid search, SEO and social media, has flourished after working alongside some of the best minds in the industry at Online Republic and Search Republic. She has passed all of Google's qualifications and prides herself on staying up to date with the latest industry news and trends.