Photos Increase Facebook Reach, But Does It Drive Traffic?

facebook-logo-squarePhotos are said to improve engagement on Facebook, but does that engagement in turn boost traffic or fans? No, our testing found — but there still might be value in using them.

Ever since Facebook started displaying Reach data directly on Facebook fan pages, here at Marketing Land and Search Engine Land we have been diligently watching the fluctuations happen day-to-day.  Knowing that using photos is a sure way to attract a more engaged audience, we started to deliberately manually post more photos on Facebook, and not via our third-party tool. We spent about a week posting photos with links in the caption where it made sense – after all, we’re publishers, and our goal is to drive traffic to our sites.

Photo Posts vs. Link Posts Performance

When we compared photo posts to link posts in a 30-day period in PageLever, one of the many tools we use, we realized immediate results:

  • 4x engaged users per post
  • 4x the amount of shares
  • 4x more consumption
  • 4x as many shares
  • Twice as many likes
  • 2.5x more virality

Great news, right? Concrete actions with concrete results. Lots of visibility, lots of engagement. With more visibility, you can make the assumption that site traffic and followers would see the benefit.

No Big Increase In Fan Growth

From the chart below you can see a bit of a peak in growth the week of July 9, which is when we started posting photos with links. But the Removed Fans metric also increased at that time, so it’s safe to say that there really hasn’t been any impact on Fan growth.

How Was The Traffic?

As you can see below, despite the social success, there was not much to write home about.

Marketing Land Facebook Campaign Traffic


Search Engine Land Facebook Campaign Traffic

Since there didn’t seem to be a blip anywhere on either site, I looked at the top five photo posts and the top five link posts with most reach. I did the same with Search Engine Land. Then I grabbed the top ten Facebook posts from each site that drove the most traffic. What I discovered was this:

  • For Marketing Land, six out of the ten top traffic-driving posts were links, not photos.
  • For Search Engine Land, seven out of the ten top traffic-driving posts were links, not photos.

But does this mean the efforts were unsuccessful? Brands and businesses everywhere have struggled defining the value of content broadcasted across the social space. Just a few months ago I wrote a post asking the same questions, only using Pinterest as an example. On Facebook we know people are seeing our content, the Insight metrics show that. So I repeat the question, is there a value if it’s not driving traffic or audience?

Absolutely. Content consumption happens everywhere, and publishers need to be ready to have their content read and distributed outside of the confines of their site. And the broader audience, the better. Does it really matter whether your brand engages with you on your turf, or on a site they spend time on? And as you already likely know, the SEO benefits of social activity is there, and in light of all of the link building confusion happening these days, building a reliable, honest social presence will likely benefit long-term.

Have you looked at the impact on traffic or followers on your Facebook posts? Share the results, I’d like to read about your story.

Related Topics: Channel: Analytics | Facebook | Facebook: Insights | Facebook: Pages | Features & Analysis | Social Media Marketing | Top News


About The Author: Monica Wright serves as Director of Audience Engagement for and, two of the leading trade publications for the digital marketing industry. With over 15 years of experience in online publishing, content marketing and audience development for media companies, she is focused on content consumption and measuring user engagement on both sites across multiple platforms including desktop, mobile, social and email. In addition, she serves as a program coordinator for the SMX conference series, produced by parent company Third Door Media, publisher of Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. You can find Monica on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

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  • PinkCakeBox


    I think you are spot on with your analysis.  For our specialty bakery, we’ve been experimenting more with photo album type updates on facebook (as opposed to the traditional link updates) and we’ve seen higher commenting and likes using the photo album approach.  Also, with a shift to mobile and the increase in the desktop photo size, we’ve seen this approach increase engagement further.

    The downside of this approach (as you’ve already pointed out) is we’ve gotten much less click throughs from facebook.  So we do sometimes mix and match approaches depending on whether we are looking for general awareness vs wanted to convert the user on our website. 

    So we do think there is value of driving general awareness, and that value ties back to the brands goals.  Also, another factor to think about is the general authority one gets from a facebook edgerank perspective if they are consistently pushing out content that is engaging. 



  • Monica Wright

    Thanks for your comment. It’s tough for many to make the transition and be comfortable that our audience and customers may just not visit our sites. We have been at a point online that for many, we need to redefine what a conversion means to specific audiences. Also, if you haven’t seen it already, there’s a link in the article above you may find interesting about how MTV is using albums to increase reach, you may enjoy that.

  • Lloyd Sexton

    Nice article. I would like to address a question you posed here;

    “Does it really matter whether your brand engages with you on your turf, or on a site they spend time on?”

    For many industries, Yes it absolutely matters when it comes to revenue.You can’t really increase the ad revenue on your site if users don’t visit your site.

    Don’t get me wrong, It’s important to keep a social presence going and growing, but there needs to be a realistic value placed on those, and it is very much dependent on a sites focus. Pepsi and Old spice proved that great social media campaigns don’t always result in increased revenue.

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