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

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?

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?

(In case you want to join us on Facebook:
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This article was proofread and edited by myself with the help of Grammarly. If you are blogging in English and cannot afford a professional editor, Try Grammarly Now! It rocks.

  • Anders Orsander

    I have one question. Did you just post on your Google Plus page? Or do you interact in relevant communities?

    For me Twitter and Google Plus are the best networks. And on Google Plus it’s the communities that I find awesome. The content I find there and the feedback I get is by far the highest quality. No ads, no cute cats and invites to candy crush. I call Google Plus the ugly duckling in social media. Once you get into it, it’s great.

    • TheSocialMarketers

      Hey Anders,
      Thank you for your thoughts!

      This post was intentionally not about the shares we do ourselves – I share on my personal account if at all. This post was about the shares we gain with our content and the traffic (clicks) resulting from it. And I cannot answer the question where people share the articles it can be groups or fanpages or communities and personal profiles.

      Google+ might be a good place to discover good content or feedback, however that is simply not what my analysis is for or what I was looking for. Building a new blog, the one first goal is to gain traffic and for that Google+ sucks – at least for us. The numbers speak a clear language.


      • Anders Orsander

        Ok, thank you for your explanation. I ask because using Google+ right affects the result enormously. If I share a post in a relevant G+ community I get something like 15 times the result of sharing it in my feed.

        In fact, G+ and Twitter are by far the best sources to gain traffic for me (There’s a giant gap to source number three). But G+ takes getting into, and it’s all about quality content. Facebook is getting worse and worse in my experience.

        So I don’t quite agree with your conclusion that G+sucks at driving traffic. It does for you, but does it mean G+ sucks or that you need to adjust how you’re using G+? G+ is not Twitter or Facebook and needs another approach. When I got into G+ I had a very Facebook/Twitter approach and I thought G+ sucked. Then I learned how it works and it totally rocks and drives loads of traffic.

        • TheSocialMarketers

          I am totally aware that there are people who have success with G+.

          However, let me say it again: This post is not about how I use Google+ (because basically I don’t use it). It is about what I get out of OTHER PEOPLE sharing my content on Google+ and Facebook. So NO the results are not due to the fact that I am using Google+ wrong, because it was not me who did the sharing in the first place.
          I only could do a fair comparison between G+ and Facebook, because I – or The Social Ms – are small on both and so our own activity does not dilute the statistics. That is why we left Twitter out of the analysis, we are huge there ourselves which makes a comparison unfair.

          To sum it up again: OUR AUDIENCE sharing our articles on Google+ does not give us any relevant results, whereas shares FROM OUR AUDIENCE on Facebook give us much better results. That has nothing to do with our own activity, because that is not what this analysis is about.


          • Anders Orsander

            Yes, I know what your analysis is about. I responded to your comment “Building a new blog, the one first goal is to gain traffic and for that Google+ sucks” which I certanily not agree with, with numbers to back it up.

    • Natascha Thomson

      Fully agree, G+ communities are often very high quality.

  • macgizmoguy

    Nearly ANYTHING I post to my Google+ Business Page shows up almost immediately on page 1 or 2 Google organic SERPS – with my logo thumbnail beside it – drawing the searchers attention. It only seems to rank for a day or so (like most real-time data) then fades.

    I *LOVE* the high rankings and burst of direct traffic it drives – no matter how temporary. Especially since my domain has been penalized with a -50 penalty and nothing I blog about ever makes it past Page 5 of SERPS otherwise.

    I’ve never gotten good traction for my niche with FaceBook. And the declining ROI and Reach of even trying there for 3+ years utterly pales to what a bit of mere DABBLING on G+ has yielded in comparison.

  • Rodrigo Dutra

    Because G+ is boring and ugly. That’s why. You don’t need to think much about it. You can’t have fun in G+ That’s it. Facebook is boring too. But is trying to become more like Twitter. Facebook is ugly too. Doesn’t make me fell good. I want to be informed in real-time. Don’t make me think. I have more important things to think about.

  • summer

    I sit in the age group between Gen Xr’s & Millenials and use Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram the most, so I view G+ as redundant with the same connections and offerings as FB. That being said, if you are using FB as fan-pages, consider doing G+ differently like a subject matter page and be heavy on dynamic visuals. I notice that I tend to scroll through like its Pinterest and view only things that truly grab my attention. I also noticed that my friends who are baby boomers and older are the most active. I definitely think you need to better consider your audience demographics and never regurgitate the same exact content from platform to platform.

  • Natascha Thomson

    Great discussion and it comes back to being clear on objectives. If you goal is visit to your website that’s much different from engaging people on your Fanpage. Thanks for making it clear that we should not get stuck on Facebook insights but instead measure the goals that actually matter to us. THANK YOU!