While competing with Twitter for a cut of TV advertising, Facebook posted a reminder on Monday about its influence on publishing. The company said its average referral traffic to websites has increased 170% between September 2012 and September 2013. In the case of companies with a lot of viral content such as Buzzfeed and Bleacher Report, Facebook increased traffic by 855% and 1081% respectively. Facebook increased Time traffic by 200%.
Posting the statistics has been seen as a move by Facebook to prove its value to news outlets and online magazines in the event that it loses to Twitter on the television front. Many have said Twitter has the most obvious synergies with television: an easy, one-to-one conversation format, succinct posts, and feeds that work in real time and refresh faster than Facebook. Use of hashtags, which make tweets searchable, has not become common in Facebook posts even though the company has introduced them.
Twitter reports that 95% of public, social conversations about TV happen on its site. To replace it as the primary site for TV chatter would be no easy task. Facebook, however, has five times as many users as Twitter, 1.15 billion versus 218 million monthly active users. Sheer size, and the ability for a video or article to go viral as shown by the Buzzfeed and Bleacher Reports traffic increases, can be a valuable asset for television companies to promote their shows and run ads on.
Facebook has used its size and copious reams of user data to make itself appealing to television companies. It announced on September 30 that it would offer broadcasters weekly updates about how their shows generate comments on feeds, and give select companies search tools to observe users’ reactions to news events and programs
And perhaps the numbers released on Monday are worth more as a tool for Facebook to show television its reach: television advertising was a $70 billion industry in 2012, almost double the $37 billion spent on online ads.