16/05/2011

By Suw Charman-Anderson, Social Technologist

Earlier this year I did some work for OldWeather.org, a citizen science project that is transcribing weather and other data from old ships logs. As part of their website progress assessment, I analysed their web traffic to see where people were coming from and whether we were reaching our core communities. One of the things I found was that whilst Facebook sent over two orders of magnitude more visitors than LinkedIn, LinkedIn was responsible for much higher quality visitors. Visitors from LinkedIn visited an average of 17 pages per visit, staying for 34 minutes with a bounce rate of 33%, compared to Facebook’s 1.8 pages per visit, 1:41 minutes on site, and 79% bounce.

The quality difference is stark and indicates that for OldWeather.org, perhaps a bit more promotion in LinkedIn might be in order. But is LinkedIn capable of the same volume of visitors that Facebook can provide? Facebook still provides a far higher overall share of time on site compared to LinkedIn, although on some sites (my blog - Strange Attractor included) a single page view isn’t all that useful in terms of the site being able to fulfil its remit. Lots of single-page-view visitors aren’t as valuable as fewer multi-page-view visitors.

For some companies, recent changes to LinkedIn have upped their ante quite significantly and they have started seeing real referral traffic from LinkedIn. The traffic can come from a bunch of sources — mostly new products LinkedIn.com/Today, newsletters, and LinkedIn News.

It seems to me that, if these visitor quality stats and this new trend in volume hold true, then LinkedIn is successfully shifting from being a site often marginalised in social media outreach strategies to one that should be central. After all, with traffic it’s not just the volume you should be interested in but the quality of visitors as well.

This article originally appeared on Suw’s blog, Strange Attractor.
You can follow Suw on Twitter @suw

Watch the video below featuring Jemima Gibbons of AAB Engage discussing how social media can positively impact your business

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