These are questions that keep social media strategists awake at night (or maybe just me). So at Mashable, we decided to take a look at our own data and see how user behavior compares between Facebook and Twitter, the two social media sites that generate the most referral traffic to Mashable.com.
After pulling three months worth of our social data and calculating the click-per-share (CPS), it appears that users on Twitter are more likely to share an article rather than read it, whereas users on Facebook click on more articles than they share. According to our social data, Twitter received roughly 0.38 clicks per tweet, whereas Facebook received 3.31 clicks per engagement (the number of times people posted a Mashable link to Facebook through an action on a social plugin or through a Wall post). This would mean that a Facebook action gets roughly 8.7x more clicks than a tweet.
Calculating the Click-Per-Share
For some context, Mashable receives roughly 20% of its visits from social media sites, with Twitter and Facebook accounting for 14% of those referred visits. I calculated the click-per-share for Twitter after looking at the number of total retweets Mashable has received in the last three months. To give you an idea, we average roughly 124,000 retweets per day for our main @Mashable account, which has 2.2 million followers. These numbers include both RTs and the native Twitter.com retweets across Twitter.com and third-party applications.
Here is where the tricky part comes in: We can only accurately separate the clicks that take place on Twitter.com, as third-party apps are bundled with other platforms these links are shared on. To compensate for this discrepancy, we adjusted the clicks number based on Sysomos research, which recently concluded that 58% of tweets come from official Twitter applications, 35.4% of which are Twitter.com. Based on these numbers, we calculated that each tweet receives 0.38 clicks per tweet.
For Facebook, we looked at the total number of actions on Facebook that result in Mashable links for the past three months. This includes likes, shares, comments and links being posted to one’s Wall. Looking at Facebook.com clicks on those links, we determined that each action received roughly 3.31 clicks. Both of these calculations were compared and compiled based off internal tracking numbers used from both platforms’ APIs and clicks on our bit.ly links, which includes those shared by Mashable and our readers, with numbers from our referral analytics.
As an aside, Facebook and Twitter visitors also spent 29% more time on Mashable.com and viewed 20% more pages than visitors arriving via search engines.
Are Shares More Valuable than Tweets?
Facebook’s News Feed, however, is driven based on algorithms that take into account previous engagement and your social graph. Further, story links typically include a user’s comment, with a headline of the story, thumbnail and blurb. This takes up more real estate in the feed. But engagement activity has a short life on Facebook as well, with less than 20% of likes occurring after 24 hours.
In general, within Mashable’s audience, the number of tweets vs. actions on Facebook was far higher, which makes sense considering there are nearly 100 million tweets posted per day, 25% of them containing links. However, it also might be a result of our distribution on the two different platforms (Twitter: 2.2 million vs. Facebook: 460,000+). It’s also worth considering that Facebook has far more users (nearing 600 million) and sees roughly 1 billion pieces of content (news stories, photos, links, etc.) shared each day, with an average user having 130 friends.
The recent “Like Log Study” by Yahoo Labs examined the Facebook distribution of top media companies, and estimated that there are roughly 10 Facebook “likes” per 1,000 pageviews. It also found that on Facebook, frequency of publishing to Facebook didn’t matter in terms of attracting actions, and that the majority of actions came from a few stories that performed really well. On Twitter, most active users have fewer connections.
The point is these two platforms are very different in their user interactions, which results in a disparity of clicks on stories between the two, at least for Mashable.com. Because we have such a unique audience, we’d love to know if others are finding a similar disparity in their click-per-share on Facebook and Twitter. Please share your findings in the comments below.