Does a Facebook share generate revenues for a publisher? Here’s how it could be calculated.

The growing importance of social media marketing

Social media marketing has long been touted as the channel to distribute content to. Nearing two billion users, Facebook, in particular, offers a promise that has many a social media marketer salivating – what if a time portion of that number were to share our content?

Facebook, like with Google Search, has been slowly but surely, upgrading it’s algorithms to make news articles appear less frequently. This, in part, was to increase engagement for users – users who seem to not like too many promotions and content coming from the pages that they like. Another change seems to have impacted the way news articles appear in the feed.

Is the effort to get a Facebook Share justified?

To answer this question, researchers at Kaleida, a data analytics company, analyzed data from one of their publishing clients. First, the company looked at the total number of page views and the amount of traffic generated by a Facebook referral. This was verified to have correlation with the traffic generated on the site.

Source: Kaleida

A side note – while verifying the source of the traffic, the research came to a conclusion that Facebook seems to generate higher referral traffic than Google or Twitter – hardly surprising. (Though it should be mentioned, a higher Facebook share count don’t necessarily lead to higher traffic – as Refinery29 found out.)

Deriving a revenue number

With the traffic correlation accomplished, the team moved to assign a revenue number to these shares.

  • First, they looked at all articles that received atleast a 100 shares
  • Then, the team looked at the total page views that all articles with over a 100 shares received
  • In the case of their client, the total shares for such articles were 240,000 that netted in 1.1 million page views – leading to an average of 4.5 page views per share!

Considering most publishers derive revenues out of advertising, an average $10 CPM (cost per thousand views), the publisher would have generated $ 10,000 in revenues – or $0.4 /share! While this research, and the numbers derived from it, do need to be taken with a pinch of salt, it makes for a very interesting analysis.

For publishers, such an analysis opens up a very interesting avenue to truly consider the ROI of social media marketing – or at the very least a guesstimate for it.