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Each new fan acquired by retailers on Facebook equates to 20 extra visits to its website over the course of the year, according to new stats.

According to Robin Goad from Hitwise, each 'top' retailer on Facebook can expect to receive an average of 62,000 visits per month from Facebook, even if they have no fans. 

To arrive at this figure of 20 visits, Hitwise took the top 100 retailers ranked in the Shopping and Classifieds category and benchmarked visits to their websites against the number of fans on their Facebook pages.

The data for 12 weeks ending 18 June 2011 shows that fashion brands seem to be making the most of Facebook, with a much higher proportion of searches after a visit to the social network: 

The figures show that consumers are 54% more likely to search for TopShop, which currently has almost 1.5m fans on the site, after a visit to Facebook. If the one fan, 20 visits stat was applied to TopShop, this would mean Facebook is sending up to 30m visits per year. 

The dominance of fashion brands in this top ten echoes the findings from a recent look at retailer's fan numbers on Facebook, and the growth of their followings.

TopShop has really focused on social media, and seems to have built up a much larger following than other UK retailers, with almost 175,000 followers on Twitter. 

Content is regularly updated on its Facebook page to keep 'fans' interested, and it uses exclusive deals and interactive content to keep people interested and drive traffic to its e-commerce site. 

The figures suggest that this is working well so far, but the real test is how much of this traffic converts into sales.

Graham Charlton

Published 23 June, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Tim Leighton-Boyce

This is fascinating, thank you.

It's great to see this different approach to relating visits and numbers of fans on Facebook.

This way of correlating numbers may seem to make big assumptions compared to other more specific methods of tracking.

But the horrible secret is that some of those more conventional methods, such as looking at referrals from Facebook in web analytics systems have gaping holes. A lot of traffic from Facebook, Twitter etc ends up (un)attributed to 'direct' because it's coming via clicks in mobile apps, desktop clients etc

I suspect that many organisations are underestimating the impact of their social activities because they are so hard to track. The more information like this we have, the better. Thank you.

over 5 years ago

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Vishwas Shrikhande

The statistics look good, but the visits are only possible if the fan is encouraged to share his feelings.

Also many users 'like' a facebook page just because they had a good experience with the brand or product. This surely wouldnt give you web hits.

A more correct heading will be 1 Loyal follower = 20 web visits.

over 5 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

I wonder what the statistics are for other companies on Facebook. Retail might be a little "sexier" than other industries, with Facebook connections heading to the main site to check out the latest fashions. How to other industries compare?

over 5 years ago

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Kelly Kirk

The most important part of this whole article is the latter part of the very last sentence: "the real test is how much of this traffic converts into sales."

Though depending on how one measures conversions as there are macro- and micro- conversions, I'd be more interested in knowing the engagement value of these 20 web visits.

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Yes, I think we have to be a little sceptical about the figures, and it would be good to get some feedback from retailers to see whether this ratio of fans to visits is something they have experienced.

over 5 years ago

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Patrick Sauriol

Taken from the Hitwise page: "Our data shows that for the top retailers, even if they have no Facebook fans they can still expect to receive on average 62,000 visits from Facebook each month."

That's a pretty jaw-dropping statement until I re-read it. Then the word "top" stood out, as in top retailers whose brands are already well established in the public's mindset.

For a smaller business, especially one that doesn't have multiple outlets spread across the UK, people aren't finding you in droves via Facebook. You will still need to develop an aggressive online marketing strategy and build your brand name up so people will talk about you and link to you on Facebook.

I'll give you another example: if Coca-Cola didn't have an official page on Facebook there would still be fan sites for their product, and those fans would be substantial. That's because Coke has spent billions on TV/print/radio ads for decades.

I still believe that Facebook can drive great quality traffic and help brand your company with consumers but the Hitwise article, and the subsequent reporting, makes it sound like Facebook sends traffic to all companies equally.

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Thanks Patrick, I've clarified that in the article now.

over 5 years ago

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James Murray

Interesting comments above as an analyst for Experian Hitwise perhaps I could address some of the points made.

Tim - you're absolutley right not all data is captured because of the use of various mobile apps so actually the overall impact of acquiring through Facebook could be much bigger than our data indicates.

Vishwas - the Facebook 'like' means that people are endorsing a particular brand and in doing so allow that brand to send them messages through Facebook which will appear on their wall. We have shown that this does in fact give you more web visits, as people who see messages from brands they have liked before do tend to visit the website to buy products but also the viral nature of Facebook means that friends will also see the branded message and will visit the company website as a result.

Nick - retail certainly is sexier than some of the other brands on Facebook and our data shows that in particular the fashion brands are leveraging the power of Facebook the best. However, there are other non-retail brands which have managed to achieve huge success through Facebook, Compare the Market being the obvious example.

Kelly - you're absolutely right but any search expert will tell you that generally speaking more visits = more sales. The more eye balls you get coming to your website, the more likely you are going to convert some of those into sales. That's not a hard and fast rule, but the beauty of Facebook fans is that you already know these people like your product or brand on some level and are therefore more likely to convert to a sale than someone randomly coming to the website from a paid link.

Graham - we always try and meet scepticism with cold hard fact. The Experian Hitwise data smaple is the largest in the world. We monitor over a million websites every single day and 50 million search terms every week from the UK online population, so we are better placed than anyone to say how likes on Facebook are affecting traffic to other websites.

If you want to find out more about our methodology or how we can help your brand online, please get in touch: james.murray@uk.experian.com

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi James, thanks for the comments.

I assume the one fan = 20 visits stat is an average, so which brands are doing better than this? It would be interesting to see what they are doing on their Facebook pages to drive this extra traffic.

over 5 years ago

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Malcolm coles

"The figure of 1 fan = 20 extra visits to a website .... We took the top 100 retailers ranked in the Hitwise Shopping and Classifieds category and benchmarked visits to those websites against the number of fans those brands had on their Facebook page."
Am I misunderstanding or does this not take account of people who like (as in share) one of the retailer's website pages - this will drive visits to the website (as friends will see the liked page in their news streams.) But you don't have to be a fan to like a website page ...?

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Malcolm,

As far as I can tell, it doesn't take that into account, but perhaps James can clarify that.

over 5 years ago

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David Quaid

@Patrick, @Malcolm,

I found the "snake-oil" part.

From the original hitwise article, which only seems to have some spam comments:

"We then also looked at the propensity for people to search for those retail brands after a visit to Facebook using our Search Sequence tool."

So Facebook (which presumably people got to via Google) - then are encouraged to search (20 times a year) in Google for the brand which Facebook introduced them too and not the actual store or its TV advertising or its history or any other marketing.

Ergo, in facto, bullshittio continuoso :

"each 'top' retailer on Facebook can expect to receive an average of 62,000 visits per month from Facebook, even if they have no fans. "

Right then.

So to be a top Facebook marketing success, and drive traffic via Search as result, you don't even need Facebook Fans - you just need to be a 'top' Retailer.

I'm sorry, really? what are you guys sniffing? pass it round please!

over 5 years ago

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James Murray

Our statistics take into account the total visits from Facebook to a retailers website as well as the total searches for a brand after a visit to Facebook. Clearly not everyone who leaves Facebook to go to a brand website is a registereed fan of that brand but what our data does show is that there is a very strong correlation between visits to a website and the number of Facebook fans you have. Using this correlation we were able to determine that each extra fan was worth 20 additional visits over the course of the year.

It's important to point out that the 20 visits are not going to come from that individual fan alone. The viral nature of Facebook means that people will see brand messaging on friends' walls and are more likely to visit a brand website based on this.

As you say Graham, this is an average and some brands are already achieving much better results from their Facebook fans. Social media is after all about engagement and the brands which engage best with their customers on Facebook tend to see the best returns. Fashion brands in particular do this very well, with Topshop, Jack Wills and River Island being three retailers that have really embraced social media well.

over 5 years ago

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David Quaid

Um, why was my comment deleted?

over 5 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi David - was caught by our spam filter for some reason. Published now.

over 5 years ago

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malcolm coles

Hi, James. Thanks for the answer. I still don't really get this.

There are two ways people can reach a brand's website from Facebook.

One is if they are fans of the brand's FB page and respond to a brand's status update that links to the brand's website.

The other is if they see a friend of theirs share a page by "liking" it (whether that friend is a fan or not, and regardless of whether they themselves are a fan).

I can see there being a high correlation between FB fans and website visits. But the jump to a 20:1 figure is too far, surely? It completely ignores the effect on traffic due to people sharing URLs - which is why they can get 62,000 visits even with no fans. Or am I being thick?

over 5 years ago

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Leadership Development Ithaka

Hi Graham,
really interesting article on facebook. I must admit we have started a facebook page, but for Management Training we find ourselves doing a bit here and there. I guess these stats confirm that we need to start focussing on Social Networking in general a lot more seriously. Thanks for the Insight on this

over 5 years ago

Rachel Cummins

Rachel Cummins, Marketing and Communications Manager at Bright Digital

It's nice to see a useable, clear stat on Facebook pages and why they are worth investing in. Definitely a good one to use in conversation when speaking to the unconvinced...

However, whilst this may be a useful opener when chatting, the real work is making the page work in other ways than just sending traffic. Like everyone says, converting that traffic to sales - but also what about engendering loyalty (which is hard to measure), building awareness, encouraging advocacy and so on...

However it's still a nice stat, thanks for bringing it to our attention! : )

over 5 years ago

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David Quaid

Hi Rachel,

But its completely fictional!

over 5 years ago

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Chris Gorney

Correlation is not causation.

The Top Brands will get more traffic anyway, better positions and better CTR's in Natural Search.

Therefore the number of visits to a website will grow exponentially the stronger the brand.

It just so happens large brands with big customer bases find it easier to grow Facebook fanbases as well.

Don't get me wrong. Facebook fanbases can generate traffic, but trying to tie this all up so neatly doesn't work.

over 5 years ago

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Pete Austin @MarketingXD

@David Quaid. I agree; seems like snake oil.

Experian seems to have identified a correlation between searching for fashion brands and liking fashion brands on Facebook, but correlation != causation. We do not know that one causes the other. Possibly both these activities appeal to the same type of person (young-ish women?).

Treat with suspicion until Experian publish their methodology in full. Especially details of their control group.

over 5 years ago

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Pete Austin @MarketingXD

I’ve redone the math and estimate the effect vanishes (click my name for the link).

Issues are that Fashion retail searches after FB visits are increased:
* by 103.5% because of the greater number of women in the sample.
* by 114% because of the greater number of young people in the sample.
* by 114% because both are more common at non-work times.

over 5 years ago

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