Home If You Tell Them On Facebook, They Will Come…Again and Again

If You Tell Them On Facebook, They Will Come…Again and Again

In continuing to look at the way that Facebook has become a driving force behind online news consumption, Heather Hopkins of Hitwise has dove into the numbers again, this time examing how Facebook users compare with others in return visits.

According to Hopkins’ article, Facebook not only drives a high amount of traffic, higher than Google News, but its users are far more loyal, as well.

Hopkins took a look at the data earlier this month, noting that Facebook drives three times as much traffic to broadcast than Google News, and now we find that these users are also repeat offenders. That is, they don’t just visit once, they come back for more. From the Hitwise blog:

Hitwise data indicate that visitors from Facebook are more loyal to News and Media websites than are visitors from Google News. In particular, among the top 5 Print Media websites in the week ending March 6, 2010, 78% of Facebook users were returning visitors compared to 67% from Google News. The figures are almost identical for Broadcast Media, with a 77% returning rate for Facebook compared to 64% for Google News.

Why do we care about this metric? Because “visitors aren’t as valuable if they don’t come back. Advertisers and retailers need some assurance that visitors will return again and again.” Hopkins notes that even visitors from Google.com, often the leading source of traffic to these sites, are outpaced by those from Facebook when it comes to return visits. But why is this?

Hopkins doesn’t get into the “why” behind the numbers, but we’d be willing to wager that it has something to do with a few reasons. First, content posted by peers is more likely to be compatible with an individual’s world view. Second, their trust in friends as sources might lead them to return for more.

Google, on the other hand, can give great results just the same as it can lead you to the most worthless pages you’ve imagined. It doesn’t offer that one thing we can all trust – the valued opinion of a friend. It’s also possible that the friend making the recommendation in the first place is a return visitor who repeatedly recommends the articles they read.

Whatever the reason, the numbers tell us one thing for sure – news outlets need to focus on making sure it is as easy as possible for readers and viewers to share content on Facebook. Or, as Hopkins so succinctly puts it, “with recent Pew Research showing that Newspapers have seen ad revenue fall 26% during the year and 43% over the past three years, understanding where to find loyal readers is becoming increasingly important.”

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