Facebook’s privacy changes have everyone in line for a slice of the semantic web pie

With so much buzz around Facebook’s recent privacy changes, I decided it was time to take a peek at some of our analytics to see how the sites Pandora and Yelp may have benefited in the month of April. We should keep in mind that the f8 Live conference didn’t announce the Open Graph API capabilities or privacy changes until April 21st. Therefore the metrics we have for the month of April should be an indication that the traffic flood gates are leaking and are not yet at full force as I expect to see in May data. I’ll be most interested in how Yelp, Pandora, IMDB and other early API adopter’s traffic metrics and referral data will change from April to May. Since we just pushed our monthly data (May data is now live!), it’s likely I’ll revisit this.

I’ll start by looking at Yelp’s referral traffic; Facebook came in at a solid number two slot with a little over 6% of total referral share and about 20% referral increase from the prior month. This is a big win for Yelp, as a number of their top referrers declined significantly with Google referrals decreasing at 36% from the prior month. Facebook’s back was scratched as well with 8% destination share, almost a 20% increase from March. While I’m not crazy about how easily it will become to connect to just any site, it’s nice to be able to connect my Yelp reviews to Facebook as I’ve been both a user and contribution of Yelp for over 2 years now.

The referral traffic for Pandora, our newly more social streaming internet music site, had a small but sizable bump in traffic referrals from facebook.com during the month of April increasing 8.63% with a 21.69% referral share. To reciprocate Pandora drove about 20% of their downstream traffic back to facebook.com, an 11% increase from the prior month. Not a bad showing for having the application interaction live only a little over a week, albeit the Pandora /Facebook saw less of action likely because their user base is more passively engaged than that of Yelp’s. Pandora also allows their paid subscribers download the Pandora One desktop application so those who use it often like myself, are less likely to see how So-and-so likes the song that is streaming.

Finally IMDB, which is the bees knees of Movies and TV information, also greatly benefited from this Social Graph or "Like" button protocol getting about 11% of its traffic from Facebook with a gigantic 53% increase from the prior month. Facebook likes it too, because they get about 13% of IMDB’s destination traffic with almost a 48% increase from the prior month. For a more simplified understanding of how this change made traffic shift, see the table below.

If these metrics are any indication it’s likely that this will be a huge traffic win for Yelp and Pandora, not to mention the flock of sites that will be quick to follow suit with the new Open Graph API integration. Now I’m left wondering, "˜what’s really in it for us?’, will the outcome be a more social web experience or is it likely that we’ll tire of the noise of how SoAndSo likes this song, or that article, or this movie, or that restaurant. Will these changes cause us to be overwhelmed by self-centric social media or will we like it after all?

Shout outs

I’d like to thank Kurt Opshal from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) for his timeline which helped me gain context for when the changes took place and what they were.

I’d also like to shout out Mashable‘s Ben Parr for his post on the F8 speeches that furthered my understanding of how the changes to Facebook were segmented.

About Lindsey Mark:
Lindsey Mark works in Client Relations at Compete and is responsible for the strategic development of client retention and support policies for compete.com, with a focus on education and training efforts. She graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY so she's a certified technology junkie and open source advocate. When she's not thinking about marketing or training digital 007's at compete, she's doing yoga & blogging about gluten-free diet and lifestyle. Find Lindsey on Twitter as @linji, Google Plus as Lindsey Mark or connect with her via LinkedIn.