Sunday, October 18, 2009

For Bloggers, Facebook Trumps Twitter [Part 1]

Social Media has allowed bloggers to interact with readers and potential readers in new and exciting ways. You can chat with your fans on Facebook and follow up with your followers on Twitter. At at the end of the day, however, be sure to invite those readers home with you.

Your blog is your home base. It's where readers find the full text of your articles, browse past postings, and access the resources you provide. If your blog is monetized, it's also where you earn your money via display advertising. To build traffic, you bring readers at other sites back to that home base and offer them incentive to return again and again via the value you provide there.

What's the most effective way to reach readers and bring them back to your blog? Use every method available to you, of course; it all adds up. But which site gives you the most ROI on your time and effort? Facebook beats Twitter by a huge margin, in my experience.

One way to determine whether that's true for you as well is to look at how many clickthroughs (CTs) a link gets when it's posted on different sites over eight hours or so. You can track CTs with link shortening site that offers tracking. I use bit.ly. On the link's info page at bit.ly, you can see the number of clicks the link has received. "Clicks" shows you the link activity over time, while "Referrers" shows you where the activity is happening:


Curious about just how many readers Facebook was sending my way, I posted an identical bit.ly link to an article on Twitter and on my blog's Facebook Fan Page. For purposes of comparison, I also posted the same link on my main blog, Baby Cheapskate. (the article it linked to was actually posted at my Upromise blog). I then tracked the CTs each site provided over a 24-hour period. Here are the results for the first eight hours, which is when most of the social media action occurred:What did I learn?

  • In the first half hour, Twitter received 8 CTs. Facebook received 55 CTs in the same amount of time.
  • The Twitter link received virtually all it's CTs within a half hour after posting, whereas the Facebook link continued to receive CTs consistently for about eight hours.
  • In 24 hours, the Twitter link received 9 CTs, while the Facebook link received 160.
  • Facebook CTs outpaced even my blog's CTs for the first four hours, though blog CTs continued for more than 24 hours.
What about RSS, the grande dame of bloggy outreach? Facebook's CT rate is higher than the CT rate for my blog's RSS feed despite the fact that I have more than twice as many subscribers to my feed as I have Fans. The feed item received only 111 CTs within 24 hours. Of course, that's still better than Twitter.

There is one unknown here: The first image above shoes that 62 CTs were from email clients, including CTs from iPhone/Blackberry, etc. Unfortunately, there's no way to know whether those CTs came from a Twitter application or a Facebook application on those devices.

In part two of this article, I'll explore the differences between Twitter and Facebook as traffic building tools and tell you how you can make the most of what each has to offer.

Recommended Reading:
Using Bit.ly Stats to Build a More Successful Blog
Make the Most of Your Facebook Fan Page

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