Links Posted By Big Facebook Pages Have A 0.14% CTR, 1 Click Per 1000 Fans

The click through rate for links posted to the news feed by Facebook Pages with over 100,000 fans is 0.14%, or 1 click per 715 impressions according to a new study shared with us by analytics provider EdgeRank Checker. Pages receive 0.00093 clicks per fan, or roughly 1 click per 1000 fans. These figures should give marketers an idea of how many Facebook fans they’ll need to accumulate to drive significant traffic to external websites, a core way of deriving return on investment from the social network.

Facebook only started providing link click metrics to Page admins at the beginning of October. Until then, marketers had to use links with tracking tags or URL shorteners that can reduce CTR in order to determine the referral traffic their Page posts were driving.

For comparison, links posted by Pages have nearly 3x the CTR of Facebook ads which average 0.05% CTR, and they top online display ads which average a 0.1% CTR according to Webtrends.

Facebook Pages can be a useful marketing channel for brands, especially those that organically accrue Likes from passionate customers such as entertainment, consumer packaged goods, fashion, and automotive companies. To drive significant referral traffic, though, most brands have to invest in advertising in order to beef up the fan counts of their Pages.

Most major brands have at least 100,000 fans, and Posts by Pages with few fans have a much higher CTR as you can see in the graph below. Therefore, I excluded them to avoid skewing the data. For all Pages with over 1,000 fans, including those with few fans, link posts still only have a 0.35% CTR, 1 click per 280 impressions, 0.00236 clicks per per fan, and 1 click per 424 fans.

EdgeRank Checker’s data is based on 84,000 link posts by over 5,500 Pages in October. The study also looked at which days of the week were the best for Pages to post on. It found that posts on Wednesday receive the most clicks and shares, while posts on Friday receive the fewest.

If they spend the time and money, brands like Porche, Netflix, and Old Navy can drive around 2,000 qualified clicks a day for free. Facebook Pages can’t completely replace the need for paid advertising, but they can become an important component of a savvy online marketing strategy.

Jack Dorsey: “The Hardest Thing For Any Entrepreneur Is To Start”

Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey took the stage at the GigaOm Roadmap conference to talk about his experience being well, basically a jack of all trades (rimshot).


Dorsey revealed that both his own and his family’s experiences with entrepreneurship were inspiration for his two current startups — both of which remove friction from human communication and industry, a process Dorsey described as “getting rid of the ‘conceptual debris’.”


Dorsey has long identified with the struggles of entrepreneurs; He brought up the example of his mother, who ran a small coffee shop in St. Louis, “Starbucks came and it didn’t go so well,” he said.


Then he brought up his dad, who co-founded “Two Nice Guys,” a pizza restaurant also in St. Louis. When Dorsey’s dad and his co-founder began to hire people, Dorsey said, they promised each other they wouldn’t date any of the wait staff. “First person to get hired is my mom,” Dorsey went on, “And so my dad had to leave the business and I was born.”


Before quickly relating these stories, Dorsey said that companies need to start quicker and iterate more; “The hardest thing for any entrepreneur to do is to start.”


One of his favorite things about Square, he emphasized, is that it helps companies start, “It is amazing, you are in business right away, in terms of anyone being a retailer. The line between consumer and retailer, the counter blurs. You see this at Apple, people don’t wait in line, don’t wait behind a point of sale system, there is no counter. It takes the friction out.”


Dorsey said that Silicon Valley’s culture of mentorship also appealed to him because of its frictionless quality, “Any entrepreneur can come up to me and discuss and idea. As people who are also just getting started, we need to make sure that we’re always accessible to people who want to start something new.”


Facebook Adds Another Nail To The Proverbial RSS Coffin, Kills Off ‘Import’ In Notes

Bad news all ten of you that actually used this feature, Facebook has changed its Notes settingsand will eventually eliminate the importing of blog items via RSS for personal Facebook pages. Because RSS has died and been resurrected more times than Bill Murray in ‘Groundhog Day,‘ I’m going to let the pros and cons deck it out in the comments.


Of course whether you are a pro or con will depend on your specific Internet usage habits. All I’m going to say is I’ve never rarely actively used RSS in any sort of productive way (like in Google Reader), and when I asked some random person what they thought of this, I was met with the response, “Not really a big deal, RSS is kinda dead.”

“RSS IS NOT DEAD,” you argue,”YOU TOO USED IT WHEN THIS POST GOT SENT AUTOMATICALLY TO TWITTER.” Okay fine you win. In fact, Facebook is still allowing people to subscribe to Page updates via RSS which means even it’s not offing the thing out right.

But MG was right when he wrote, “The fact of the matter remains that RSS is not a consumer-friendly technology. If I said ‘RSS’ to my mother, she would have absolutely no idea what I was talking about. If I said “Twitter” or “Facebook” to her, she knows who those are — she even uses them. That said, RSS does still often provide at least a partial backbone for those services she does know.”

MG held that over time reliance on RSS will start to diminish as people are forced to get used to sharing content via buttons (like what we’re seeing here with Facebook). “The best way to get people to interact with your content is to give them insight into the links you share on your Wall by adding personal comments and responding to feedback from fans,” chirps the Facebook Help page cheerfully.

For the record I asked my stepmom if she knew what RSS was earlier and she said “Sort of.”

Oh and lols.



When Unrest Begins, Bloggers Roll Their Sleeves Up

As the protests spread across Tunisia for weeks, many international news organizations scrambled to cover the unrest just before President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled on Jan. 14, ending 23 years of authoritarian rule. But Amira al-Hussaini was all over the story.

Ms. Hussaini oversaw a handful of bloggers who gathered information about the mounting protests in Tunisia for Global Voices, a volunteer-driven organization and platform that works with bloggers all over the world to translate, aggregate and link to online content. As part of its reporting, she said, the site turned to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, where other bloggers and hundreds of ordinary people stepped into the role of citizen journalists and shared their experiences, cellphone photos and videos online.

“There was a whole army of people who did the job of reporters, sharing what was happening on the streets,” said Ms. Hussaini, 38, who lives in Bahrain and is the organization’s regional editor for the Middle East and North Africa.

Soon after the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on Friday, the volunteer bloggers for Global Voices in East Asia put together special coverage of the devastation, sharing citizen videos and translating posts on Twitter, including calls for help from people stranded on the upper floors of buildings. Over the weekend, with fears fueled by the prospect of a second explosion at a nuclear plant, they monitored the conversation on the social Web, reporting how people were exchanging information to keep safe and questioning the use of nuclear energy in an earthquake-prone region.

“Our job is to curate the conversation that is happening all over the Internet with people who really understand what is going on,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, a former Tokyo bureau chief for CNN who founded Global Voices with Ethan Zuckerman, a technologist and Africa expert, while they were fellows at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. “We amplify, contextualize and translate what these conversations are and why they are relevant.”

Ms. MacKinnon and Mr. Zuckerman both said the network grew out of an international meeting of bloggers held at Harvard in late 2004. They saw an opportunity to leverage content produced on blogs and social media sites like Twitter outside of the United States and to help create a global community for them and their work. “Our goal is to give you the voices of the people in a country like Tunisia, day in and day out, whether they are cementing rebellion or talking about local news and sports scores,” Mr. Zuckerman said. “We don’t parachute in. We are there all the time. “

The organization is now an independently operated nonprofit, financed mostly with private donations and grants from foundations. It is led by Ivan Sigal, who studied the role of citizen media in conflict zones at the United States Institute of Peace, before taking over as executive director in 2008. With no physical office, he oversees a virtual team of about 20 staff editors and more than 300 volunteer bloggers and translators outside the United States.

Mr. Sigal said that the site averages about a half million visits a month. Many of the volunteers also post on their own blogs and social media sites, including Ms. Hussaini, who is known as Justamira on Twitter. He said the organization does not accept any government money. “We want it to be perceived as being neutral,” he said.

Mr. Sigal said that having editors work with volunteer bloggers brought traditional journalistic values to the operation, like checking facts and sources. “But it is less about a finished story and more about a conversation,” he said. “When we build a story, we include links back to the original sources, so you can follow the story as far down as you want to. We want you to leave our site and go find the original, find more.”

Clay Shirky, a professor at New York University and author of “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations,” said that one of the most important roles that Global Voices has played is translating online content for an international audience.

“This started with the idea to provide broader coverage,” he said. “It turns out that it is much more critical than they had imagined because the other international news sources are being dismantled.”

In addition to news from Japan and the continuing coverage of the rebellion in Libya and violence in Yemen, the site includes stories about the growing influence of online communities on Russian politics, the developing political crisis in the Ivory Coast and International Women’s Day in Colombia. There was also a report from South Korea about why so many people online were discussing a 26-year-old actress who committed suicide in March 2009 and left 50 letters, just made public, listing the people she said had exploited and abused her.

But the unceasing tumult in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks has dominated the platform. It has meant 18-hour days for Ms. Hussaini, whose work is now followed closely on the site and on Twitter by journalists from traditional media organizations, including Andy Carvin of NPR, who has been regularly curating and publishing posts on Twitter, creating a news wire about the unrest in the region for weeks.

She spent 12 years working as a news editor for an English-language paper in Bahrain before volunteering at Global Voices as a blogger in 2005. She became editor for the region in 2006 and knows it well. Still, she said that she was caught by surprise that the turmoil across the Middle East unfolded not far from her home in Bahrain.

In Libya, where rebels are now battling the country’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, she said it had been much more difficult to get information, which she said had more to do with fear than with lack of access to the Internet. “The citizen media scene is small in Libya,” Ms. Hussaini said. “We find it very difficult to find voices here and in other places where there is a lot of censorship and a lot of fear from the regime. Bloggers being arrested is a fact of life in some countries.”

For those bloggers from Global Voices who are jailed or run into difficulties because of restrictions on freedom of expression, the organization now offers help. Global Voices Advocacy is run by Sami Ben Gharbia, a highly respected blogger who is a founder of Nawaat, a blog about Tunisia, and an activist who until recently lived in exile from Tunisia for 13 years.

Mr. Zuckerman said that the organization was committed to supporting freedom of speech as well as to keeping up with the developments unfolding all over the world. “People are not always interested in knowing what is happening in Yemen,” he said. “We have been waiting for people to pay attention to this corner of the world for a long time, and now we are ready to tell their stories.”

Social Media: Can Spark Revolts

Since the term “Twitter revolution” was coined in the summer of 2009 to describe the Iranian Green Movement’s use of the microblogging site, the nomenclature has used in an unforunate manner, applied to any sort of use of such tools during times of protest.

But while Twitter, Facebook, and even Google Docs were used in the recent revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, most experts agree that they are tools, not catalysts for revolution.

Nevertheless, praise has been disproportionately bestowed upon these Silicon Valley giants by mainstream media, with little mention of the potential dangers of using such tools.

To find evidence of such risks, we need only look to Azerbaijan where, just last week, the moderator of a Facebook page calling for protest in the country was arrested, or to Tunisia, where dissidents’ Gmail and Facebook accounts were phished by the government in the midst of the revolt.

Risky business

More recently, Moroccans complained of having their Facebook accounts hacked, possibly by the government, or possibly by pro-monarchy forces.

Though some risks are inherent to the architecture and policies of social media tools–Facebook’s “real name” rule, for example, or the lack of HTTPS across most sites–others are a matter of use, and a lack of forethought to the permanence of online postings.

Imagine for a moment that Egypt’s protesters had not been successful in ousting Mubarak; the myriad photos, videos, and tweets posted by Egyptians, many with identifiable information, would remain online for the security service to pore through.

And with cameras omnipresent during protests, anyone who shows their face is at risk, as protesters learned after Burma’s Saffron revolution: intelligence agents scrutinised citizen videos to track down participants.

But even those individuals who remain largely anonymous online run the risk of being tracked down for their activities. In 2008, a young Moroccan engineer by the name of Fouad Mourtada was arrested for impersonating one of the monarchy’s princes, Moulay Rashid, on Facebook.

Facebook claimed they did not hand over the young man’s information to authorities, which suggests that it was obtained through another method, most likely deep packet inspection, a technique common in China and Iran.

Sketchy friends

One of the most easily-avoided risks is in a practice inherent to the concept of social media: making new friends. In the United States, creditors have taken note of users’ willingness to meet new people online and have utilised sites like Facebook to befriend–and then track down–their clients.

Though many social media users are prone to accepting requests from people they may not know well, activists could be at a higher risk as they attempt to build up their networks for a cause.

Some, like Net Delusion author Evgeny Morozov, suggest that authoritarian regimes have the upper hand: In a chapter of his book entitled “Why the KGB wants you to join Facebook,” Morozov cites the example of a Belarusian activist whose real-life activities (including travel and organisational connections) were easily gleaned by the KGB from his online presence.

Though Belarus–by all accounts an authoritarian regime with a history of spying on its citizens, online and off–may be an extreme example, the lesson is that average users are potentially putting themselves at risk every time they disclose an affiliation, post about a trip, or share a photo album.

But the potential risks of social media hardly outweigh the benefits, and for every phishing attempt or government spying case there is a success story of social media for activism: The Egyptian Facebook page that drew awareness to torture and mobilised thousands; the Syrian students whose cell phone videos of teachers abusing students led to the teachers’ dismissal; every rabble-rousing campaign to free an imprisoned blogger.

Rather than discourage use of social media during times of protest, these cautionary tales should instead invoke greater awarneness and lead to better education on the risks present, and better, safer practices.

Think Twice while clicking “LIKE” button

facebook like button

facebook like button

Say goodbye to the Share button because the Like button is taking over.After months of updates to its Like button, Facebook has released an update that fundamentally changes the button’s functionality to that of a Share button. Now after hitting the Like button, a full story with a headline, blurb and thumbnail will be posted to your profile wall. You’ll also be given an option to comment on the story link. Previously, only a link to the story would appear in the recent activity, often going unnoticed by users.Though users may now think twice about hitting the button, given how prominently it will appear on their walls and in their networks’ news feeds, it should ultimately increase traffic to publishers’ websites.Facebook has slowly been rolling out updates to its Like button and has stopped developing the Share Button. Facebook Spokeswoman Malorie Lucich told us that while the company will continue to support the Share button, Like is the “recommended solution moving forward.”However, Lucich today called it a test, saying “We’re always testing new products that incorporate developer feedback as we work to improve the Platform experience, and have no details to share at this time.” It’s unlikely that the change is just a test, however. Typically such tests from Facebook only affect a small number of users, whereas this change affects all Like buttons.Perhaps the change was necessary. Because it was never made clear to users that the Like button would function differently than the Share button, many never understood what it meant to click Like on a piece of content. Making the result the same as the Share button could build stronger user expectations, ultimately fashioning a better user experience.