How much traffic does Facebook now send to other web sites? Analytics firm Compete tells the San Francisco Chronicle that 13 percent of US traffic to big web portals — Yahoo, MSN, AOL — came from the social network in December, the most out of any traffic source. What does Facebook itself report about this data?
The company doesn’t typically share a lot of about the traffic trends it sees internally, but we can glean some new information from the Statistics page it occasionally updates. Facebook usually updates some stats on the page when it makes larger announcements about its traffic, and it did so earlier this month when it said it grew from 350 million monthly active users at the beginning of December to 400 million now. Out of all of the items with new numbers, content-sharing (like posting links to content on a web portal from within Facebook), is way up. So are stats for Pages.
We go into more details below, based on our ongoing coverage of these stats as Facebook has updated them; for reference, see our posts covering the other updates, from last December, September and July.
All in all, Compete’s content-sharing data appears to be directionally correct, as it and other third-party data services usually are about Facebook traffic.
Status updates: In December, Facebook said that more than 35 million users update their status every day. This number has not changed today, so either the number of people posting status updates has not gone up along with its 25% user growth, or Facebook hasn’t updated the stat, or both. However, Facebook says that the number of status updates is going up, from 40 million in September to 55 million in December to 60 million as of February. The rate of status-updater growth appears to have slowed considerably, in contrast to the site’s overall growth. It’s not clear why, although a series of news feed and home pages changes starting last fall have de-emphasized status updating as a feature.
Photo uploading: The rate of photo uploading also continues to grow, although not as fast as it had earlier this year. Now, Facebook says more than 3 billion photos are being uploaded every month, up from 2.5 billion in December, 2 billion in September and 1 billion in July.
Sharing pieces of content: Defined as “web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.” — so, the source of the new traffic Compete is showing to portals — this category has been seeing massive growth. Facebook reported 1 billion items shared a week in July, 2 billion shared a week in September, then a big jump to 3.5 billion in December, and another big jump to 5 billion a week as of earlier this month. This is a key metric in Facebook’s vision of helping people to share more, and the many big and small changes the company has been making to the site are apparently having a significant impact.
Events creation: For whatever reason, Facebook has only intermittently updated this stat, and it hasn’t done so since December, when it said 3.5 million events were created every month. It didn’t report new numbers in September, but it said 2.5 million as of July. Growth here hasn’t been huge, as far as we can tell; the new home page redesign makes events more prominent, so perhaps we’ll see more stats, soon.
Pages: There are now more than 3 million active Pages on Facebook, nearly double the 1.6 million it reported in December. While it didn’t previously disclose the same Pages stats, Facebook began doing so that month; compared against the latest update, they show new pattersn. Pages that Facebook defines as local businesses went from 700,000 actives to 1.5 million. In other words, local businesses comprised half of the overall increase in active Pages over the last couple of months. Facebook separately says that the average user becomes a fan of 4 pages every month, double the December average. However, it has not updated the number of fans from December, which as 5.3 billion.
And, for a fun look at just what the latest updates looks like in graphical form, check out this guest post from Muhammed Saleem on Mashable.