Clicks per Share – G+ or Facebook – Are We Doing Facebook All Wrong?

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Recently Jonathan and I talked about Google+ and our impression, that we get very little traffic from there to our blog. We discussed if this is either due to the fact that people don’t share our content on G+ or if people don’t click on content shared on G+.

Incidentally, I was also pointed to an article on Business Insider, stating that on Google+ „despite billions of sign-ups, hardly anyone actually does anything on it.”

In contrast to this statement, in the discussion about Copyblogger shutting down their Facebook page, Copyblogger has stated that they find “value actively engaging with its community through Twitter and Google+.“

These pieces of information were slightly contradictory, and I decided I needed to take a closer look, to decide how we are going to pursue with Google+ and Facebook in the near future.

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A completely unscientific analysisClicks per Share - G+ or Facebook - Are We Doing Facebook All Wrong? - A Competitive Analysis of the impact in form of visits to our blog

I am no big name on Google+ and I do not see much engagement on my activity there. But this might be due to the way I act on G+ and can be totally different for a brand like Copyblogger, although a brief look at their page does not show that many conversations are going on on their posts.

However, since we recently started a new brand and blog, naturally the question which networks we should focus on comes up. We are huge on Twitter, no question about that being our most important Social platform right now. But we want to grow. Since our resources are limited (after all a day has only 24 hours and I like to sleep once in a while), we will have to focus our activity on the networks which get us the best results.

I have been doubting the effectiveness of Google+ for a while, but others like Copyblogger seem to have more success. We decided our decision needed some more data. The question was not if I get Google+ right or wrong, the question is if our content resonates with G+ and the active users on G+.

We have been writing articles for TheSocialMs for less than half a year now. Many of you have shared our content in different networks. To see where we are going to engage in the future, we compiled some analysis on the impact in the form of visits to our blog for all these shares.

And here is what we did:

  • We took a closer look at the last 20 articles published on TheSocialMs’ blog.
  • We counted the social shares of these articles in the different networks.
  • We counted the visits to these articles from each network
  • We compiled the average click per share rate per network

Right now we are neither big on Facebook nor Google+. Thus, the results will not be influenced by our Social Media power for Facebook or Google+ shares. (This is one reason we did not include Twitter in the analysis, where we have so many followers, that each share gets quite a number of views).

Our Facebook Fanpage for The Social Ms started two weeks ago and has by now 170 fans. My Google+ profile, which I use to share some of our articles on G+ has less than 800 followers. Nothing huge here, so we can be fairly sure the numbers we compare are results from shares from our users.

What to learn from this:

  • There were a few articles that got far more shares than average, these usually also got the most views
  • Most of the articles which got many Facebook shares also got many Google+ shares, but…
  • In total articles were shared more than four times as often on Facebook than on Google+
  • Facebook got us over 15 times as many clicks as Google+
  • Facebook produced 0.7 article clicks per share
  • Google+ produced 0.2 article clicks per share

What does this tell us regarding the questions at the beginning of this article?

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Our articles get far less shared on Google+ than on Facebook. This could be seen as confirmation of above-claimed inactivity of Google+ users – or simply mean that our readers do not use Google+. But that alone wouldn’t mean much – it could simply mean that we need to focus more on our G+ strategy. But…

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Our articles get far fewer visitors per share on Google+ than on Facebook. This could be interpreted
as Google+ users being inactive – or simply our content being not so interesting to Google+ users than to Facebook users. But Facebook and G+ are pretty close as to how their mechanics work – much closer than for instance Slideshare is to Facebook. That means that currently there seems to be a huge gap between how good content is accepted, shared and eventually consumed by Facebook users and G+ users. G+ (from this totally unscientific test) seems to be a lot less effective. Or in other words – people either don’t log in to see our content – or they simply don’t consume content posted on G+.

Since we right now are looking to grow our traffic to our blog, the number of readers the shares bring to our articles is far more important than the absolute number of shares. 0.2 clicks per share on G+ doesn’t seem worth the effort of optimizing for G+ in the future – not as long as we still have optimization potential on Facebook (which get’s us 0.7 clicks per share right now).

This confirms my gut feeling that sharing our articles on Google+ does not have much impact regarding traffic to our blog. At the same time, sharing our content on Facebook gives much better results. And this will be one path we will pursue with more focus in the near future.

Why this makes me wonder if we are viewing Facebook the wrong way:

There is an ongoing discussion about whether Facebook is ripping marketers off by reducing the organic reach of Facebook pages and making fanpages essentially pay-to-play.

I am beginning to wonder whether that is really how we should view Facebook – fanpages only make a small part of the traffic through Facebook anyway. If I (without actually driving a large percentage of clicks through a Fanpage) get 4 – 5 times as much traffic from Facebook than from G+, I have to admit that we are already getting a lot more organic reach from Facebook than from anywhere else (excluding Twitter, again).

Facebook gives me a lot of visibility – the fanpage is only a small part of it. Whether the fanpage drives traffic on itself is maybe less important than we thought: It still is vital to be available as a brand on the network that drives the traffic.

Btw: I also included LinkedIn in the analysis – the results were closer to G+ than to Facebook – with a value of 0.3 clicks per share. This makes the analysis even more interesting – Facebook is simply driving more traffic than any other network apart from Twitter for us.

Did anyone of you do a similar analysis? Did you get the same or different results?

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