Facebook's Click-Through Rates Flourish ... for Wall Posts

Estimates From Social-Media Firm Vitrue as High as 6.49%

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Who says click-through rates on Facebook suck?

Sure, click-through rates for general display ads on Facebook have been criticized for being rather unimpressive, but click-through rates for content on brand pages' walls are as high as 6.49%, according to estimates from Vitrue, a startup that helps marketers manage their social-media presences.

Earlier this week Vitrue announced a Social Relationship Manager suite with new planning and reporting tools for social media, including Facebook, where much of Vitrue's work is done. One of the things it has introduced is URL tracking, so it can measure click-through rates for links in wall posts and newsfeeds. Naturally, we wanted to find out what a typical click-through rate is for those messages.

Getting at the answer is a bit of science and a bit of guesswork, Vitrue acknowledged. That's because it's not always clear how many people are exposed to a link in a wall post, as it's syndicated out through newfeeds. In some cases people aren't online or on Facebook, which hinders total exposure to the message. To get at its click-through-rate estimate, Vitrue assumed that about one-twelfth of the Facebook audience is on the site at any given time and able to be exposed to a message. "We seem to feel comfortable it passes the sniff test," CEO Reggie Bradford said.

How many fans a brand has is also a factor in calculating click-through rate -- it's the total number of clicks on a particular post divided by number of fans who would have seen it, a number that's adjusted to take into consideration that not every fan is on Facebook all day long.

Mr. Bradford explained: "If a site has 100 fans and your wall post gets five clicks, that's a 5% CTR. But if you assume only about 20% of those folks actually saw the post, it's really a 20% click-through rate." That's better than the click-through rate of the average e-mail campaign, he said, and certainly better than the rate for an online ad. It also doesn't count how many people commented on the post or said they liked it but didn't click through.

Of course, the more of the U.S. Facebook population that's on the site at any given time, increasing the number of potential exposures to a wall post, the lower the click-through rate potentially gets. Here's the breakdown, according to Vitrue's calculations, based on Quantcast data indicating that 90.8 million U.S. users visited the site in June 2009 for a total of 2.9 billion visits -- an average of 32 per person:

  • With the assumption that one-twelfth of the total U.S. Facebook audience is on the site at a given time, Vitrue data show a click-through rate of 6.49%.
  • With the assumption of one-eighth of the audience is on the site, Vitrue data show a click-through rate of 4.32%.
  • With the assumption of one-fourth of the audience is on the site, Vitrue data show a click-through rate of 2.12%.

Vitrue also broke down the clicks by demo -- age and gender. (Consider that younger demos are arguably overrepresented on Facebook):

  • 13 to 17: 40%
  • 18 to 24: 30%
  • 25 to 34: 14%
  • 35 to 44: 10%
  • 45 to 54: 4%
  • 55-plus: 2%
  • Female: 56%
  • Male: 44%

Of course, this doesn't mean marketers should go hog wild posting to their Facebook walls -- nothing's probably quicker to lose fans than a flood of marketing messages in a place where they're probably not to keen to see those anyway. As Michael Donnelly, group director of worldwide interactive marketing at Coca-Cola Co., which counts 3.6 million Facebook fans, put it to me in an interview yesterday: "They've fanned the Coca-Cola brand; they haven't opted in to be blasted with advertising."

What do you think about the click-through rates in wall posts? Do you run a brand-focused Facebook page? How do you communicate with your fans? Let us know in the comments.

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