By The Numbers: How Facebook Says Likes & Social Plugins Help Websites

Earlier this month, I wrote about how the promise of Facebook traffic has enticed millions of sites to use Facebook Like buttons and other Facebook social plugins. But does following Facebook’s socialist agenda really pay off? How about some numbers, courtesy of Facebook?

Facebook provided me with the figures below from when I was working on my earlier article, Has Facebook Become The Master Key To Unlocking The Web?

Since the figures are from Facebook, you do have to take them with a grain of salt. However, there are plenty of third party sources that also report how making use of Facebook’s social features can be a traffic booster.

On with the stats!

Media Stats

Here’s what Facebook says about media sites using Like buttons and other social plugins:

  • The average media site integrated with Facebook has seen a 300% increase in referral traffic.
  • People who sign in with Facebook at The Huffington Post view 22% more pages and spend 8 minutes longer than the average reader .
  • Users coming to the from Facebook spend 85% more time, read 90% more articles and watch 85% more videos than a non-connected user.
  •, Washington Post and The Huffington Post are said to have more than doubled their referral traffic from Facebook since adding social plugins.

Commerce Stats

About commerce sites and Facebook social plugins, the Facebook reports:

  • Levi’s saw a 40 times increase in referral traffic from Facebook after implementing the Like button in April 2010 and has maintained those levels since.
  • Outdoor sporting goods retailer saw a 100% increase revenue from Facebook within two weeks of adding the Like button.
  • American Eagle added the Like button next to every product on their site and found Facebook referred visitors spent an average of 57% more money than non-Facebook referred visitors
  • Children’s clothing retailer Tea Collection added the Like button to sale merchandise and saw daily revenues increase 10 times.
  • ShoeDazzle added the Like button to all of the products on its site and within the first month had thousands of likes for its top products.
  • ShoeDazzle also lets people login to its site using Facebook, and Facebook-connected users were 50% more likely to make repeat purchases every month than average shoppers.
  • When a Ticketmaster user posts a specific event they are attending, or may want to attend, to Facebook, it generates $5.30 of direct ticket sales
  • Eventbrite reports that a link shared on Facebook is worth $2.52 in ticket sales (see also here and here)

Making “Like” More Likeable

Facebook says Like buttons get 3 to 5 times more clicks if:

  • Versions that show thumbnails of friends are used.
  • They allow people to add comments.
  • If they appear at both the top and bottom of articles.
  • If they appear near visual content like videos or graphics.

Metacafe Puts Like Up Top

For example, Facebook says that video site Metacafe placed a Like button above its videos, in addition to being below, as the arrows point to in this screenshot:

After doing this, use of the Like button and traffic from Facebook increased. Facebook reports that:

  • The number of daily likes more than tripled, going from an average of 2,000 likes per day to over 7,000 likes.
  • Daily referral traffic from Facebook to Metacafe doubled, going from about 60,00 to 120,000.
  • Total Facebook actions (likes, shares, comments) rose to 20,000 per day.

Metacafe has a bit more in slides it posted here.

More Tips From Buddy Media

Since Facebook was handing out Facebook optimization tips, I thought it was also worthwhile to point out a fairly recent white paper from Facebook marketing platform Buddy Media.

Called “Facebook’s EdgeRank: How to Make Sure You’re in the News Feed,” it’s a free download from here and suggests these tips, in summary:

  1. Ask questions on your Facebook fan page (“Would?” gets the most engagement)
  2. Post games and trivia
  3. Interact with fans
  4. Use wall “sapplets” — coupons, polls & other out-of-the-ordinary posts
  5. Use relevant photos
  6. Relate to current events
  7. Incorporate videos
  8. Post time-sensitive content
  9. Post links
  10. Be explicit in posts

The full report has lots of real life examples and accounts of how various changes drove traffic or engagement.

Coming up next, a close-up look at the day in the life of Search Engine Land on Facebook. All those Like buttons but only 22 clicks? And how there’s a wealth of data in Facebook’s own statistical tools, but they might not show you everything.

Why not tune in by becoming one of our fans on Facebook?

Postscript: Originally I’d written that Levi’s had a 40 times increase in traffic after adding Facebook Like buttons, which did seem pretty odd — 40 percent rise in its traffic overall? No. Facebook has clarified to me that Levi’s had a 40 times increase in traffic to the site from Facebook, not overall.

Also, before adding the buttons, Levi’s received less than 1% of its overall traffic from Facebook in March 2010. After adding the buttons, over 40% of its overall traffic came from Facebook in May 2010. Yes, I’ve double-checked that and Facebook reconfirmed, over 40% of its traffic from all sources came from Facebook.

Related Entries

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Facebook | Features: General | Social Media Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • P.F.

    There are some really great statistics in there that seem to support the argument that integrating your website with facebook is a good thing.

  • S.I.

    Levis saw a 4000% increase in traffic from implementing a like button? Bullshit. Urban myths like that are all part of the problem that is ‘facebook hype.’

  • Danny Sullivan

    As I said, take these with a grain of salt. That Levi’s stat seemed odd to me, so I’ll double-check with Facebook about it.

  • D.M.

    This only tells part of the story.

    How many regular visitors of these websites LEFT to play around on Facebook?

    You could have got those Facebook referrals just as easily WITHOUT these silly widgets. I get Facebook traffic all day long and I don’t use any Facebook widgets.

    Also remember it’s easy to say your Facebook referral traffic increased 4000% when you only have 10 visitors/day from Facebook in the first place.

    It’s very simple–linking to Facebook with widgets, links or whatever, you’re sending people AWAY from your site.

    People already know about Facebook. It’s like Ebay running ads through Adsense–totally pointless, who hasn’t heard of Ebay? If they want to play around on Facebook, they don’t need me to remind them about Facebook while browsing my website. They can do that whenever they want to, just type FACEBOOK.COM. Want to share my link on Facebook? I won’t insult your intelligence, I know you know how to cut-paste a URL without a widget assist you.

    Think about the future. You’re giving Facebook all this free advertising on your website. Why? To dig your own grave? Do you really think Facebook wants your website to succeed? Are you that naive? Facebook’s goal is to BECOME the Internet. They are not shy about it. They already proclaimed the death of email citing fake statistics. Wake up, Mark Zuckerberg is NOT your friend.

  • Globetrooper

    I’ll have to remember that, I just have to say ‘take this with a grain of salt’ and that abdicates me of professional journalism and lets me write bizarre biased advertorials.

  • Danny Sullivan

    DM, it does indeed tell only part of the story. Other issues include things like how while for the promise (not guarantee) of traffic from Facebook, you’re in turn building up a nice page of all your loyal users that you’re competitors can advertise against — with Facebook getting a cut.

    While leads to my response to Globetrooper. No one’s abdicating anything. In my first piece in this series, I said I’d be looking at three issues.

    The first was the rise of Facebook’s social plugins, in particular the Like buttons, and how they’ve spread across the web.

    At the end of that, I said I’d cover on whether that “bribe” pays off. Facebook obviously is going to say that it does. And there have been any number of reports showing that Facebook has indeed been rising as a referring traffic source. One of these was in the related links above, but here it is again:

    But as hinted at in the end of this piece, and in the last one, my final piece in this series pokes at this from our own personal experience here.

    Pulling stats from one day, I’ll talk about how our site delivered thousands of impressions for Facebook and yet generated only 22 likes — and how the traffic we received back from those likes was relatively little compared to just being in people’s newsfeeds on Facebook.

    So stay tuned, and I hope you’ll perhaps judge things from all three pieces.

  • Steve Myers

    Danny, any way to pin these down with time periods? Here, for instance: “People who sign in with Facebook at The Huffington Post view 22% more pages and spend 8 minutes longer than the average reader.”

    8 minutes is a long period of time in Web-viewing, so what period of time are we talking about? Is this for a single visit (which seems high) or over the course of a month?

    Steve Myers

  • John McElhenney .011

    So Facebook is giving us examples from the HUGE BRANDS that can leverage FB advertising across massive numbers and integrated campaigns. Nice. But what about the small and medium sized business, the one’s probably reading this blog, who want to use FB to move their sales needle? What about ROI for the company that has 10 likes per week? It takes a lot of work to generate content to get a LIKE. So what’s a LIKE worth?

    And in my Google analytics how can I tell what vs is?

    Sure Facebook gives us access to millions upon millions of eyeballs. And the majority of these eyeballs don’t click on ANY FB ADs. So CTR is usually measured in the 0.01% – 0.03% range. And then when you subtract the typical “bounce” between 80 – 90% and you come up with some very expensive traffic.

    So use FB for message testing. Or if you are HUGE for BRANDING. But if you are a small-medium business, you might look elsewhere to spend your dollars. Sure, enable the LIKE button, by all means, but don’t expect it to move your numbers in any significant way.

  • Data Manager

    “our site delivered thousands of impressions for Facebook and yet generated only 22 likes”

    So if you’re at $10 CPM, you lost $30 to Facebook and in return got 22 “likes” which are worth about 10 cents to your bottom line. Am I close?

  • Data Manager

    Also how much is “Search Engine Land” worth if Facebook wins the race here. Do you really think you’re going to write articles about how to get your Facebook pages ranked in Facebook? Good luck with that. That might work until Facebook decides they’ll take ownership of your “page” and now you’re out of business.

    If you drop all the Facebook widgets and links off this page (and don’t replace them with more clutter) I guarantee the CTR to your ads will increase. It’s basic probability.

  • Data Manager

    Facebook stands to wipe out your entire business, yet you keep sending them traffic. Don’t underestimate your influence. You’re leading the sheep to the slaughterhouse.

  • Danny Sullivan

    Steve, checking on that.

    John, see some of the “Related Entries” above for some of our past articles on how small and medium-sized businesses may, or may not, want to approach dealing with Facebook.

    It’s clear there’s opportunity to gain from Facebook, given the huge number of people using it. There’s simply no question in my mind that it can indeed drive traffic to web sites, and that any business owner big or small needs to be thinking about it.

    But how exactly each business deals with Facebook will ultimately be up to them. Some may want to go “all in” and completely tie everything into Facebook. Others may have some concerns about handing over too much of their brand to Facebook and the Facebook walled garden.

    There’s not correct answer. And that’s just talking about the “organic” or non-ad side of the equation (the Like button and other social plugins are free for anyone to use).

    Data Manager, we delivered 1,000s of impressions for Facebook in the sense that on a typical day, Facebook’s Like buttons show up on our site that many times. We didn’t pay for them; they aren’t ad related. There’s no CPM/ad issue here.

    There are indeed concerns people need to have about what Facebook potentially might do with their pages. That’s why I’d never advise anyone to solely build a business on Facebook’s platform, just as I’ve never advised anyone to build something other than on a primary platform they control:

    But you can tap into secondary channels to drive to your primary one. And it makes sense for any marketer to consider Facebook because of the substantial traffic it can drive, as can Twitter, as can other channels.

    Again, it’s something each marketer needs to weigh up.

  • Unknown Kadath

    If you look at this page that you are reading right now while running Firebug and look at the NET tab, you will see what you need to consider when adding these Facebook buttons and such to your page.
    For the ‘Like’ button, I don’t understand why more web developers don’t just use an HTML link with an image hosted on their own website instead of all that javascript.
    The only difference would be faster load times for your page and FB wouldn’t get all of your analytics. Or am I missing something?

  • D.M.

    “There’s no CPM/ad issue here.”

    You’re wrong. Do the test I suggested. Or do you not track CTR to your ads?

    It’s basic probability and attention. Right below this textarea box is a “Search Engine Land” ad unit for Facebook. Ceteris paribus, people will either click “Baynote” or Facebook. You drop the Facebook unit down there and the Baynote clicks WILL increase, more people will see the ad. It’s not my opinion, it’s mathematical certainty. Little changes like that can 2x or 4x your income tomorrow.

    I’m not saying you should remove all links to other websites–but every link counts in a big way.

  • R. Noel

    In addition to the increase in direct referral traffic which is what I assume the data is referring to is primary affects, but I would guess that as social signals become more prominent in the weighting of determining Google search results, a secondary boost in traffic could be achieved in SEO benefits of strong social signals lifting sites with more likes/fans/shares/etc higher in the SERPs. Anyone have evidence to suggest this is the case? I believe I recall a recent SEOMoz video or blog post reviewing recent data suggesting a strong correlations between Facebook likes and positive impacts to rankings.

  • @DanielDoherty

    As i was reading this article I remembered Levi’s had done a big marketing push (I guess they do quite a few) and thought they would have done more than just add facebook plugins to their website so went looking to see.

    Found some stats from Levi’s director of digital marketing, Megan O’Connor


    The ad campaign has received 72 million impressions in total to date.

    Live streaming began Wednesday, and has received half a millions views in the last two days on Facebook. This does not count its its videos on its home site, YouTube and elsewhere.
    Songs have been shared nearly 3,000 times on Facebook
    The fan page has grown by more than 40% in the last two weeks. It now has 238,000 monthly active users.

    Also there are lots of plugins that can be useful to website owners, but depends what’s appropriate for you.

    Also you can practically build a website within a facebook fan page if you choose too.

    Plus throw in a switched on company adding a gaming/competition/group discounts elements to their fan page. People love this sort of stuff! As most people sign up to be a fan/follower/connection/customer to a brand/business on any social networks (not just facebook) for deals.

    Great article about it here mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonuKXOZKXonjHpfsX67uwoW6Kg38431UFwdcjKPmjr1YIDTMt0dv

    Where I spotted another company “Giant Nerd” mentioned in this article are also featured as running a competition, where if a group of friends become a fan of Giant Nerd they are all eligible to a great deal.

    Engaging your fans is what keeps people coming back (not the social plug ins), keep it interesting.

    Here is a good article about it.

    Hope this is of interest, the links were a few I was reading this evening.


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