This Chart Reveals Just How Important Facebook Really Is for Content Marketers

Almost nine years ago, I got Facebook. Back then, the goal was pretty simple: get girls.

These were the halcyon days when you needed a college email address to get on Facebook. You couldn’t do too much on the network, but the big draw as a college senior was the Facebook group for your incoming freshman year class. Like the rest of my future classmates, I dedicated months trying to make headway on hookups that would never happen, but I was hooked nonetheless.

Today, at age 27 with a girlfriend and a full-time job as editor-in-chief of Contently, my Facebook addiction is different: I don’t want girls; I want traffic. I want Facebook to drive engaged readers and email signups for my magazine, and eventually, I’d like some of those people to become customers of Contently (mostly so that my sweet job and budget don’t go away).

After all, the main focus of my job is to publish content that attracts readers. And despite all the “Facebook sucks!” rhetoric circulating in the brand marketing world, Facebook is still the most important social network when it comes to driving referral traffic to your content. By far.

Just look at this freakin’ graph:

Facebook, Content Marketing

Courtesy of Shareaholic, the graph above is the result of 13 months of data collected from 200,000 websites that reach a total global audience of more than 250 million unique monthly visitors. You know who’s driving the most traffic? Facebook. And it’s not even remotely close. At the close of Q3, Facebook was driving 22.35 percent of all traffic, over four times that of the next closest competitor (Pinterest, with 5.52 percent) and over three times that of all other social networks combined.

Content marketing, social media traffic referrals

Though Facebook has famously squeezed the reach of brands all year, the amount of referral traffic the platform is driving has also increased by 115 percent. Any editor publishing high-quality content—whether she works for a brand or a traditional publisher—will tell you Facebook remains a crucial driver of traffic.

I point this out to reinforce a point I made last month: Content marketers shouldn’t become frustrated with Facebook or consider abandoning the platform in the wake of all this doomsday news. You just need to know how to use the network correctly. It’s not a place to build a community or an audience; that’s what your owned blog, magazine, or online community is for. It’s not a place to self-promote; that, as we’ve seen, will reduce your reach to your PR team and maybe your mom. But it is a great place to seed great content to people so it gets shared like Kind Bars after a yoga class.

(Note to bosses: I could have been so much less PC with that metaphor, but I resisted this time!)

As EIC of Contently, one of my goals in 2015 will be doing a better job of engaging our Facebook audience. The analytics of similar blogs like HubSpot, Buffer, and Moz (all brands!) reveal that there’s huge potential for us do better and drive more traffic from Facebook. My days of trying to improve my dating game on Facebook game are long over. But my content marketing game? That’s just begun.

Image by Frederic Legrand

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