Twitter Crushing Facebook's Click-Through Rate: Report

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The Influence Project

What is the most effective way for marketers to spread their message online? Facebook? Twitter? Company blogs? Email?

According to a new report by marketing firm SocialTwist, Internet sharing trends have shifted heavily shifted toward social networking, but other platforms still have a strong presence for word-of-mouth advertising. SocialTwist analyzed more than a million referral messages sent using the company's Tell-a-Friend tool, a widget that lets users share sites through social media.

In the last year, social networking sites saw a 10% increase in usage, and a 16% bump in click-throughs. Overall though, email still accounts for 55% of referrals.

However, when it comes to click-throughs, social networking sites are far more effective, accounting for more than 60% of the market share.

Among social networking sites, Facebook is by far the most preferred service for sharing, making up more than 78% of usage. Yet other sites are gaining: Twitter maintains 5% of referrals, and MySpace, surprisingly, comes in at second with 14.5% share.

Yet Twitter has become the most effective tool for click-throughs. Twitter yielded a whopping average of 19.04 clicks, whereas Facebook only produced 2.87 clicks.

This is great news for Twitter, which has hinged its business on Promoted Tweets and Trends, tweet-size ads that companies purchase for $100,000 a day. With such a high click-through rate, it's no wonder new Twitter CEO Dick Costolo boasted yesterday that the company has "cracked the code on a new form of advertising, and we feel like we’ve got a hit on our hands."

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19 Comments

  • vikrant2mahajan

    Totally agree even we tried facebook in the starting but the visibility of updates was very less compared to twitter. We tried for a long time struggling with the response which was very bad where as twitter was very good at discover ability of new followers. We used to integrate a url analytics service with our content http://tuq.in and that was the perfect way to track every stuff we used to post to twitter and we totally stopped missing the facebook insights after this

  • Dan M.

    I'm not to sure about the legitimacy of these numbers.  To experiment I ran the same ad on FB and Twitter promoting my personal resume site.  The Twitter click through rate was insanely high, for the amount spent.  However when I checked with my Google Analytics account, only about 15% of the claimed clicks were directed from Twitter.  The Facebook numbers where much more accurate.  I am extremely skeptical at this point...

  • Byrne Reese

    In looking for these stats, I have seen many articles reference the SocialTwist report on FB and Twitter's click thru rates. But am I the only one who cannot make heads or tails of a click thru rate greater than 100%?

    We need to separate two factors: 1) the re-share ratio and 2) the CTR of any given link, and then make those rates relative to some other reliable variable, like the number of followers someone has. 

    Because taking these stats at face value I don't know how to apply them to my own system. Let's say I have 100 followers. Does that mean that if I share a link with them on Facebook, then that link will be clicked on 287 times?! I don't think so. 

    Maybe I am wrong and I just don't know how to parse these numbers? So could someone explain to me how I might apply these stats as a benchmark to my own sharing stats so that I can understand how the sharing behavior I see compares to the norm?

  • Chuck Bartok

    I agree with several of the comments relating to the Weight of the statistics. Our simple and non scientific studies has shown More click on links through Twitter, but more revenue produced from "click-throughs on Facebook

  • Jeff Molander

    Hey, Austin... you forgot one: Click fraud. That has a great CTR too. ????

    How on Earth have we gotten to the point where we're suggesting that CTR has anything to do with anything valuable to an advertiser is shocking and disappointing. Shame on FastCompany for such shallow thinking.

  • Brett Greene

    An interesting juxtaposed statistic I read a few months ago said that a high percentage of Twitter ReTweets include links that the author of the RT did not click on before passing it on. A lot of ReTweets are posted based on catchy headlines rather than on someone reading the link and liking the content.
    @BrettGreene

  • adEvo

    The report seems extremely shallow and and has lots of room for manipulation. A 19% CTR would be impressive if it weren't for the fact that its on twitter, meaning that it's twitter's set up as a tag line-only delivery system that forces users to click on the sponsored tweet if they want more info. I am willing to bet that the total number of people buying whatever it is the sponsors are selling are similar or worse to other social media outlets. Overall, I don't think CMOs are going to buy the act.

  • Kjsiex

    I believe some really good points were brought up in the below comments. I would be interested in seeing the data for "retweets" and "share". That is were the real social effect really is.

  • Chief Alchemist

    Before we analyze the conclusion let's back up a second and consider a couple things:

    1) "SocialTwist analyzed more than a million referral messages sent using the company's Tell-a-Friend tool." So they're doing their own math? And that's OK with ya all? Really?!!? Aside from that, what million? Sampled how? Who's using this ST tool? Can we and should we assume it is typically of ALL internet users? My point, there are quite a few holes in that one sentence. Holes that compromise the down stream value.

    2) I raise some of these questions because, "MySpace, surprisingly, comes in at second with 14.5% share." Am I the only one who did a triple take on that?

    In some regards it's an interesting "study" but let's not carried away about its true value.

  • Dez

    What methods were used to collect the data? Were clicks by bots and spiders excluded from the final results? You can put a link up on Twitter and immediately have 20 clicks due to bots. This number varies with the number of followers that you have. I'm hard pressed to agree with what's reported. Use bit.ly as an example of excluding known bots from click results. They started excluding those clicks in their front-end reporting earlier this year.

    **my data is due to using my own URL shortener setup (dez.cc)

  • John Ragland

    What the report doesn't say is that Twitter clicks do not convert into sales. On average we see that email referrals convert the highest and that Facebook clicks are 5x more likely to become a new customer. To be clear we are talking about things that are shared amongst friends/followers and not Twitter or FB ads. This holds up because anyone can follow you on Twitter whereas on FB you can be selective and thus have fewer yet stronger relationships. More data located here:
    http://contagionmarketing.com/...

  • Eric Tsai

    Keep in mind that spreading and retaining is different. This is what Nicholas Carr, the author of the book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, found when he studies how the Internet influences the brain and its neural pathways. Basically he discovered that the mental and social transformation created by our new electronic environment makes us shallower, unable to concentrate and strips our ability to do deep creative thinking.

    I believe email marketing combine with search (SEO) and social media will the best strategy moving forward.

    Email is the first social network and you need it to check social network notification most of the time unless you're on it regularly. Plus there are far more people that have email accounts than social network accounts.

    I wrote about this previous especially on how to leverage it with SEO: How to Integrate Email Marketing, SEO and Social Media http://designdamage.com/blog/i...

  • Vicki O'Neill

    Great point, Phil. People generally are looking for a summary of information. Twitter is the attention getting "headline" creating the need to click on a link whereas Facebook for the most part provides the summary in the post. Because of this, Twitter is setup to create a higher CTR than Facebook.

  • Phil Williams

    It's simple. Facebook allows for more information. Marketers write more, customers get more. Twitter allows for next to zero information. Interested customers click to get the information. Same / similar information goals, higher "click-throughs". Great if you want to get people to watch a video though...

  • Aly-Khan Satchu

    In Essence, the Nature of Twitter allows for Tipping Points a whole lot more often, I believe. Its more Viral than Facebook and bite sized Nuggets of Information can accelerate and Tip very quickly indeed.

    Aly-Khan Satchu
    www.rich.co.ke

  • Robert Bacal

    Austin, you have the reasoning way wrong. IF twitter click thrus are way higher, the explanation has nothing to do with anything except this: Tweets contain almost zero content, except for links. While Facebook is sticky and provides all kinds of distractions to keep people on the site, twitter does not. We know that as content becomes poorer and less rich, that click rates go way up.

    The information is already available and recognized by old school webmasters, who have found, sadly, that if one puts google type ads on a page with almost NO content, the click through rate might be ten or even fifty times placing similar ads on a page with a really good article.

    Twitter is pretty much content free. Facebook has hundreds of things to see and do.

  • Tonia Ries

    you say "Yet Twitter has become the most effective tool for click-throughs. Twitter yielded a whopping average of 19.04 clicks, whereas Facebook only produced 2.87 clicks."

    2.87 clicks per what? And are the percentages in the graphic real? What are those based on?

    More details or a link to the original research (I looked but couldn't find it) would be great.

    Thanks

  • acarr

    Thanks, Tonia. I agree, the percentages are confusing. Here's how a company rep explained it to me a few days ago:

    We get the referral numbers via looking at: # of times a link was posted, # of clicks it generates. So, if every posting—whether it be email, IM, Twitter—produces a click, then the percentage is 100.

    The reason why Facebook and Twitter came out much higher is because more than 1 person per link will click through, so the click through success rate is greater than 100%.

    The high-click through rate is related to the fact that people a very actively involved in responding to referrals from friends. 90% of online consumers trust recommendations from people they know. So, Facebook postings produce an average of 2.87 clicks (287%) while Twitter will yield 19.04 click-throughs (1904%).

    ---

    It's quite odd to say 1 click equals a 100% success rate. I believe what you're asking for is whether Twitter receives 19.04 clicks per, say, 100 views, correct?

    Here's a link to the report:
    http://tellafriend.socialtwist...

  • Tonia Ries

    thanks - very helpful! I'll be adding some of this research to our stats section at http://twtrcon.com/category/st....

    It is confusing because many of us are used to the old CTR stats, which are based on clicks per 100 views. But the explanation you provide makes sense (had to read it twice, though!): in a social media / microblogging paradigm, success is based not just on getting impressions, but on getting people to re-post and share the content.