Twitter’s More Effective than Facebook at Driving Traffic to Content

Last week I conducted a highly unscientific experiment to see which of my social graphs — my Facebook friends or my Twitter followers — drives more traffic to content here on ChasNote. My conclusion: Twitter. As far as I can tell, there are three main reasons. One, the one-way follow relationships of Twitter drives different behavior than the two-way friendships of Facebook. Two, the platforms encourage their users to interact with them in different ways, and we tend to do what we’re told. Three, the impact of doing those things (how we interact with each service) touches more people when you do it in Twitter.

I have a few more connections in Facebook (around 800) than I do in Twitter (around 700), close enough for unscientific experiments. On Friday I posted a link to one story in my Facebook newsfeed, and another I tweeted out in Twitter.

The Facebook-promoted story was , which is about as close to a “broad appeal” as I get, pictures of Bugs Bunny and all. The Twitter-promoted story was , an infographic illustrating Twitter usage patterns. Less mainstream, but also highly relevant to other Twitter users.

Well, one of my Facebook pals left a comment (her family once starred in an advertorial, just like Bugs), but only a dozen or so of them clicked over to ChasNote. Google Analytics attributes 12 pageviews to Facebook.com.

Traffic to Bugs

The infographic about Twitter usage struck a chord with my Twitter followers. Four of them, one with 300 followers, two with 2000 followers and one (David Armano) with 19,000 followers, re-tweeted the story. Eight of Armano’s followers, with 1300 more followers, collectively, re-tweeted it again. So immediately the “reach” of my Twitter campaign jumped to around 27,000, almost 40 times the 700 I started with. And the Twitter crew clicked over to ChasNote in much greater numbers: More than 359 450 of those 27,000 (updated 8/5), or a 1.7% click-through rate. (Assuming the 210 pageviews listed as “direct” that use an app like TweetDeck or Twitteriffic.)

Traffic to Twitter Infographic

In raw numbers, Twitter crushed Facebook. (Though the click-through rate among my Facebook friends, at 2.5%, was twice that of fifty percent higher than that among the Twitter folks; maybe that’s because most who saw the link in Twitter don’t know me, or maybe Facebook’s percentage benefited from the math of small numbers).

There are a variety of reasons I’m connected with people in Facebook — we went to school together, or we work together or we’re related to each other. In all cases, though, it’s because we know each other and like each other and want to keep tabs on each others’ lives. It’s friendship on some level, and it’s two directional. The Twitter dynamics are different. Of the 700 or so people who follow me, I know a handful. Maybe more if I took the time to visit my followers’ profile pages to find out the real names behind some handles I don’t recognize. But the point is, we’re not connected because we’re friends or want to become friends; they’ve subscribed to my feed because they see some kind of value in what I post to Twitter. Since I don’t use Twitter to talk about what I’m having for lunch (I mostly post links to articles I’m reading to stay smart on marketing and the technologies that facilitate marketing), the value they must see is CONTENT value — links to stuff worth reading — not a social value. The Twitter relationship, at least for followers of ChasNote, is all about the links I send out, so it makes sense that my Twitter followers are more likely (than my Facebook pals, who might just like it that we’re pals) to click on links I tweet.

Another reason Twitter works better as traffic-driver to web content is that Twitter’s limited functionality doesn’t give followers much choice. If you like something you see in Twitter, you re-tweet it. That’s all you can do, really. In Facebook, I can post a comment or click the “I like it” button — or I can forward the link to my own Facebook friends (the equivalent of re-tweeting), but that’s the hardest of the options Facebook presents, so I’ve never actually done it, and I bet I’m far from alone.

That gets to the final point: Impact. When I do what Facebook encourages me to do, comment or “like” something, it shares my appreciation with a small group of others — the “publisher” of that link (ie, my friend) and the other individuals who, like me, posted a comment on that piece of content. When I do what Twitter wants me do, hit the re-tweet button, I’m sharing my appreciation (and the link) with everyone who follows me in Twitter. When four of my Facebook friends like what I post, I’m still sharing that post with only 800 friends; when four of my Twitter followers like something, the posted link is put in front of (in this case) another 27,000 people.

Back in May, when I that I was leaving FM for Digg, three friends shared the link with their Facebook communities. One was my cousin (1300 friends), one was a co-worker (1200 friends) and the other was a friend from college (325 friends) — say 2800 individuals across those three social graphs. I tweeted the link to my 700 followers, too, but no one re-tweeted it. Yet Twitter still drove more readers to the full story at ChasNote: 122 visits from Twitter versus 110 from Facebook. Less than 4% of the Facebookers who may have seen the link clicked on it; 17% of the Twitterers who may have seen it clicked on it. In this case, Twitter and Facebook ran a tie based on raw numbers, but Twitter clobbered Facebook in percentage terms.

  1. # Twitter's More Effective than Facebook at Driving Traffic to Content – The Facebook News said: August 3rd, 2009 at 11:46 pm

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  4. # Twitter's More Effective than Facebook at Driving Traffic to Content – The Facebook News said: August 5th, 2009 at 8:53 pm

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  5. # Paul Fraser said: August 6th, 2009 at 3:40 am

    I was directed here by a link posted on Facebook. An anecdotal and unscientific refute of your anecdotal and unscientific experiment.

  6. # Chas said: August 6th, 2009 at 4:56 am

    Paul–That’s great! Where in Facebook did you see the link? Was it a friend who posted it to his/her newsfeed? In Twitter it’s easy for me to track retweets; I wonder if I’m missing some of the pass-along activity in Facebook activity.

  7. # Heather said: August 6th, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Funny how Twitter both started out as “what are you doing right now?” and FB with Your Name is… directing us to be frivolous. But my usage of the two parallels yours – I let FB be frivolous fun among friends and Twitter is usually serious spotting of something I found interesting and useful.

  8. # Chas said: August 6th, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Heather–Do get annoyed, like I do, when your Facebook friends auto-populate their status via Twitter??

  9. # Agosto 2009: Semana 1 | Blog Artvisual said: August 7th, 2009 at 12:19 am

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  10. # uberVU - social comments said: March 17th, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by tdmachine: http://bit.ly/Eg490
    Twitters More Effective than Facebook at Driving Traffic to Content…

  11. # Andrew Smith said: September 16th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Exceptionally helpful thanks, It looks like your followers would most likely want a whole lot more content along these lines maintain the great content.

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