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Can Facebook Drive Great Traffic to Websites?

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As usual, there's been a lot of talk about Facebook lately -- privacy concerns, several-year-old IMs, accounts being deleted, the value of traffic, more privacy concerns, etc. So I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at Facebook traffic to see what could be ascertained through Experian Hitwise data.

Summary of Clickstream for Facebook

For the month of April, the largest downstream site visited after Facebook was Google. OK, so no shock there.

What about the second most visited site? MySpace? Really? Just over 9 percent of Facebook visitors in April stopped off at MySpace directly after checking out their Facebook accounts.

To put that in perspective, only 0.7 percent went to Twitter (although that doesn't count those who use Twitter clients, only those who use Twitter.com).

Now, 19.48 percent of MySpace users head to Facebook once they're done on that site (making MySpace the fourth highest upstream site from Facebook, behind only Google, Yahoo, and Yahoo Mail), so there's absolutely a good degree of back and forth between the past social media champion and the reigning champ.

The third most visited site after Facebook is another Google property, and shouldn't be a surprise. Yes, it's YouTube, with 6.44 percent of visitors heading over there to watch the latest in viral videos. Again, there's reciprocation, with 9.35 percent of YouTube visitors heading over to Facebook once they're done watching Miley Cirus blend an iPad or whatever they've been viewing.

Further down the list, in 19th place, 0.32 percent of visitors went to ESPN, and 0.31 percent went to Plentyoffish.com. For ESPN, the data shows that as being 12.93 percent of their incoming traffic, 1.3 percent points higher than their Google traffic; for Plentyoffish, that's their second highest upstream site behind Yahoo, with 15.26 percent of traffic, 6.11 percent points higher than their traffic from Google.

Why does ESPN get such huge numbers? Having more than 446,000 people who 'like' their Facebook page doesn't hurt. From looking at their page, it seems they do a good job pushing out content that their fans like, as well as interacting with their Facebook fans by asking questions where they solicit responses.

So do these numbers show that Facebook can drive great traffic to a site? Maybe. Without access to individual site analytics, we can't see bounce rates, sign-ups, conversion rates, pages consumed, or whatever other metric we'd like to view to assess the quality of the traffic. The numbers look good, however, which says that maybe sites don't need to be as beholden to the big three search engines as we may think.

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