Facebook: More Than Just Likes


Image from: Facebook / Shutterstock
Social media and Facebook in particular continue to be all the rage: consumers can’t get enough and businesses feel they have to be part of the mix. To help shed light on how businesses are using presence on Facebook, Compete compared traffic to the Facebook pages of over 40 brands to traffic to those brands’ websites. Brands included those in the financial services, automotive, retail, telecom, and travel industries.  In some cases, the Facebook pages were the brand’s only FB presence; in other cases we included ancillary pages (such as those dedicated to recurring characters in advertisements). Data are for February 2011 only.

thumbs upTraffic to Facebook pages is different than Likes. Likes are cumulative, and someone can like a brand then not visit the brand’s page for months. Traffic is actual visitation to a Facebook page as measured by unique visitors, so potentially more representative of current interest. “Unique” means that someone visiting a given page more than once in the month is counted only once. These data are processed using Compete’s patented normalization and data-collection methods.

uvs to facebook pagesTraffic to Facebook Pages

We first looked at traffic to the Facebook pages of the included brands. Of those, Walmart had the most unique visitors (UVs). Walmart had nearly 1M UVs in February, followed by State Farm and BMW’s U.S. page.  The set average was 87,000 Unique Visitors and brands not shown were below the average. Note: Results here do not reflect seasonality, nor how fresh a page is or its content.


Next we compared Facebook page traffic to the same brand’s domain traffic and from that created an index. An index greater than 1.0 means a brand’s Facebook page got more traffic than did its domain in the month. Of course, it may also mean that a brand’s domain traffic is relatively weak (making it easier to index over 1.0).

index of facebook page uvs to domain uvs

Apple’s iTunes is the only included brand with an index over 1.0. Its 1.26 index means that Apple’s iTunes FB page had 1.26 times as many UVs as the iTunes site. Aside from Apple, the sub-1.0 index may mean that brands are under-leveraging Facebook. Across the set, the index averaged 0.07, and the median was 0.01.

Note: Results here do not reflect seasonality of FB or the brand sites, nor the freshness of FB content and/or site content.

songs for japanWhy iTunes?

Apple’s iTunes FB success relative to its site may reflect the variety of activities and content available on the page (exclusive offers, free music, podcasts, rankings, TV tie-ins, and feel-good promotions, like “Songs for Japan”).

But it also reflects that the iTunes.com site is used largely to download iTunes software; consumers then buy music from the iTunes store via the software. The iTunes FB page is essentially a retail storefront accessible by everyone—not just those that have installed iTunes.

More Research We’d “Like”

Facebook will likely become more important, and results suggest greater leveraging of Facebook is possible. However, these findings, while directionally provocative, are only the start of the journey (recall: they are based on a subset of all brands and only a single month of data) and our companies will have to address:

  • Are FB page visitors and brand domain site visitors the same people?
    • If they are the same, can one be used to drive traffic to the other?
    • If not, why are they different and how can they be cross-pollinated?
  • To what extent are results seasonal?
  • Does Facebook visitation actually drive business?
    • For example, are consumers that visit FB site and the brand more likely to buy/convert/book than those that don’t?
    • Do visitors to one brand’s Facebook page purchase from rivals?
  • To what extent are multiple Facebook pages from the same brand contributing to overall interest?
About Lincoln Merrihew:
Lincoln Merrihew is the Senior Vice President of Transportation at Millward Brown Digital. At Millward Brown Digital, Lincoln is responsible for steering the Transportation Team, which encompasses the automotive and travel practices. Before Lincoln joined the Millward Brown Digital team, he worked at TNS Custom leading the Automotive team, and then continued on there to lead business development for 10 different industry verticals. Lincoln's career aspiration is to create game-changing solutions and insights. Connect with Lincoln on LinkedIn.