A recent study by the Pew Research Centre announced that visitors to news websites who came through Facebook spent less time on the website than those who had come to the site directly.

Users who came directly to a new site spent 3x as long on the news than those who were directed through Facebook.  And the data remained true across a mixed range of websites as well.

However while engagement was naturally higher in users who went to the website directly, those who gained more ‘reach’ had higher than normal traffic due to Facebook, highlighting some interesting strategies of some news websites.  For instance Buzz Feed does not rely on loyalty traffic, it relies on users using its articles as conversation pieces.

“The site’s {Buzzfeed.com} writers and editors develop content that people want to share so that a story reaches all those it “should” reach. It may well be a completely different audience from one story to the next. That strategy is reflected in the 50% of their desktop/laptop traffic that comes in through Facebook with low engagement, but high volume – far more than the 32% of traffic that accesses the site directly and show higher levels of engagement.” – Amy Mitchell, Mark Jurkowitz & Kenneth Olmsted Pew Research Centre

Another important note for news agencies was that users tended to only use one method and one device to access a certain website when returning.  Those who went direct to a website were less likely to click on a link to that website through Facebook.  Meaning you are more likely to check the news on your phone in the morning, and again at night but less likely to click a link in Facebook when that same website shows up in your newsfeed.  However it was more likely to be the younger demographic 18-25yrs old who were more likely to be referred from Facebook to sites.

What was not mentioned was whether a sites FB reach converted into a long time visitor, with more emphasis on the site placed on engagement levels.  And mobile data was unavailable at the conclusion of the study which Facebook says accounts for 48% of its users.

While it remains true that conversions through social media do remain a hard task, the behaviour in the report and particularly the strategies around Facebook do provide food for thought and something to be considered when next updating your website and your Facebook campaigns



Photo supplied via Facebook

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