Tech & The Web

Study: Facebook Referrals Don’t Create Longer Site Visits


News sites love it when social media platforms send people to their content, but a new study shows that Facebook referrals don’t automatically lead to longer visits on those sites.

Loyalty matters in the news business. That’s what Mashable says is the lesson to be learned from a study about Facebook referrals.

The study, from the Pew Journalism Research Project, shows that visitors who arrive at a news site’s homepage are likely to stay longer than those who arrive at a specific internal page.

The study also finds that traffic referred by search engines also translates into shorter visits, too.

Among the findings:

“Facebook and search are critical for bringing added eyeballs to individual stories, and they do so in droves. But the connection a news organization has with any individual coming to their website via search or Facebook seems quite limited.”

I’m not sure that this should be remotely surprising. Most of the time, when we come to a site through Facebook (or other social media), it’s not that we’re necessarily looking for a wide array of news from an individual provider. It’s the specific stories being shared there that catch our eye on our social media feed that draws us and leads us to actually click to read that story.

Let’s face it: if we were in a mood to search for all-news content, wouldn’t more of us be going to our news source of choice and browsing stories there?

For some of us, as scary as it is to contemplate, there are people who claim that they get their news from Facebook. Even so: if you are drawn to a different site’s story that a user is sharing, and you click the link to see that story, Facebook opens it in another tab so you’re still on Facebook while you’re reading that other tab.

[pullquote position=”right”]For me, well written, valuable content is the deciding factor in whether I go deeper into a site than the shared link.[/pullquote]

The challenge, then, is to find ways on sites to make sure readers find another link within the site to visit once they’ve finished reading the story that drew them there. Or, even better, to give them a reason to return to the shared site’s homepage, where there’s hopefully more enticing content they’ll click on.

When I think about how I use social media links, I find that I mostly fall in line with the research: if I follow a link from social media, I go to just that link, read the story, and go back to the social media platform that took me there. The exception is when that content is really good, and then I’m more likely to click on the homepage in the hope that there’s not only more interesting content I can read, but that there’s something worth sharing on my social media, too.

For me, well written, valuable content is the deciding factor in whether I go deeper into a site than the shared link.

Your Turn:

Does the research represent how you use a website you visit because of a specific link on social media? How often do you go back to that site’s homepage?

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

1 Comment

  • Sandee_Jackson how have you been? I have not been on the Sun. chat in awhile.

Comments are closed.