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Social Annihilates Page Views, So What?

Measuring page views and bounce rates for existing visitors doesn't make much sense. It is not a goal to get them to click around. The goal is to get them to come back repeatedly.

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Written by on April 28, 2011

A report from Outbrain recently looked at traffic sources and the impact of social. Not surprisingly, the average social referral traffic is still very low. But the report also found that social traffic results in a substantially higher bounce rate and lower page views.

That might seem scary. But it's not a goal to get more page views or a low bounce-rate. The goal is to get satisfied customers that keep coming back for more.

Note: Also read "Forget Bounce Rates, focus on Conversions."

Lets take a look at the report from Outbrain.

They measured 100 million sessions across 100 premium publishers that use Outbrain's services. As such, it is biased towards a certain type of site. Mostly big content sites and online newspapers.

Traffic sources

The first real "shocker" is the break down of incoming traffic. Direct traffic rules supreme, followed by traditional channels, and all of them completely dwarf social channels.

The problem with this is two fold. First, you have to embrace social and focus on sharing to get a social result. An example from this site is that the vast majority of all traffic is coming in via social channels and only 1.11% from search.

You have a tremendous impact on your traffic sources. If you are not using social channels the right way, you are not going to see any results from it.

The other problem is that you cannot trust referrer data. As I wrote in "Don't Trust Your Social Referral Data," a lot of your direct traffic might actually be something else. A lot of your social traffic shows up in your stats as direct visitors--drastically skewing the results.

Engagement

The other and much more interesting point is to look at what people do when they arrive via different channels. Outbrain specifically looked at both page views and bounce rates.

As you can see, social media generally perform badly.

Traditionally, this signifies a less engaged audience. Why didn't they click around more? Why didn't they see more stuff?

Not so fast, though. That is the old way of thinking. It is from the days when websites where destinations. It is the user behavior of a non-connected world.

The world has changed. In order to explain just how big that change is, let's explore a few scenarios.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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