Facebook may be a big source of traffic for some news sites, but according to a new study from Pew Research, Facebook referrals spend an average of 1 minute, 41 seconds per visit.
This is around 3x less than those arriving directly who spend an average of 4 minutes, 36 seconds per visit.
The data was collected from April to June 2013, and while Facebook may seem to lack far behind in comparison, it’s just one second behind search referrals.
Here’s the average pages per visitor and average visits per visitor across all three traffic sources:
- Direct – 24.8 pages, 10.9 visits
- Facebook – 4.2 pages, 2.9 visits
- Search – 4.9 pages, 3.1 visits
According to Pew Research, even sites such as BuzzFeed who receives around 50 percent of its referral traffic from Facebook, saw higher engagement from direct visitors.
Traffic was also analyzed during the same time period from Fox News, CNN and NBC News.
Direct visitors by way of Facebook ranged from just 0.9 to 2.3 percent, while BuzzFeed topped the list at 11.3 percent.
“Facebook and search are critical for bringing added eyeballs to individual stories, and they do so in droves. But the connection a news organization has with any individual coming to their website via search or Facebook seems quite limited.”
Facebook can still be a valuable traffic source, but news sites must continue to test new tactics and ideas to stay ahead.