Saturday, 5 February 2011

Facebook Traffic: Is The Effort Worth It?

FacebookTO BE HONEST, I have not paid too much attention to those individual visitors arriving at the Canvey Beat from Facebook; because I just look upon the social media site as another way of supplementing the former’s RSS facility. Facebook users, I reasoned, may wish to have updates posted on their individual Walls, rather than subscribe to an RSS feed – and the main reason I added the ‘Recommended On Facebook’ plug-in was to obtain some idea of what posts Facebook users were sharing.

Upon further examination, however, it is interesting to note that Facebook users do not interact, with the Canvey Beat Blog, like its regular guests in any way.

The Canvey Beat achieved three large peaks in January when I decided to concentrate on the project full-time for the first two weeks of the New Year. I wrote a couple of mini-features on two of the Canvey Island wards which were hungrily leapt upon, and then, playing local reporter, I broke a hot story concerning the Town Council’s reallocation of Veteran Charity funds. Each piece drew subscribers and regular readers to visit shortly after publication, quadrupling the normal daily readership figures that show regular guests visiting two or three times a week.

Those three peaks were shared on Facebook. Almost five per cent of visitors visited the individual post from a Facebook Wall (considerably less than that achieved from Internet search-engine traffic); but, for the overwhelming majority, that was all they visited. They did not take the trouble to investigate the links placed in the articles; neither did they interact with the site further by leaving comments or reading related pieces.

Compared to other guests, their visits were very short. In the main, spending just enough time to scan the full article – and finding nothing of interest in the Blog’s advertising links.

The statistics are interesting because it is easy to be seduced into thinking that Facebook, and other social media sites, can be used as a means of driving traffic to a Blog; but, as far as the Canvey Beat is concerned, that axiom is not true. The fact is: Blog’s generate their own guests based upon content – and Facebook users are only likely to visit Wall links that have a direct effect upon their lives or reinforce their views.

The most shared of last month’s Canvey Beat posts, on Facebook, was not the revelations regarding the Town Council and Veteran Charities’ funds; nor the news of Essex County Fire & Rescue’s public meeting regarding local financial cuts; but a short post reporting Castle Point Borough Council’s implementation of a £1,000 dog-fouling fine.

Regular Canvey Beat readers greeted that particular piece with predictable equanimity.

I had toyed with the idea of creating a dedicated Canvey Beat page on Facebook for its users to ‘like’ (so as to potentially increase Facebook’s Like counter at the bottom of that Blog’s home page and give it more of a community feel).

But, reflecting upon the Canvey Beat’s diluted AdSense stats: I think that, for now, I will definitely pass…

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