Data Shows Real-World Results for Facebook ‘Likes’

One new fan for a retailer produces 20 website visits

It seems like every business wants you to “like” their Facebook page—but what exactly do they get out of a virtual thumbs-up?

According to Hitwise, which collects data from 8 million Internet users across the U.K., these businesses stand to gain a lot of Web hits. “Within retail each new fan acquired will drive an additional 20 visits to a retailer’s websites, which in turn will generate extra sales both online and offline,” said Hitwise research director Robin Goad.

That figure comes from a methodology that combined Hitwise data with data from social media experts Techlightenment. (The two firms are partnering to launch a Facebook Fan Acquisition and Analysis service that helps brands collect and study Facebook fans.) The researchers took the top 100 retailers ranked in the Hitwise Shopping and Classifieds category and then benchmarked visits to their websites against the number of fans they have on Facebook.

“Our data shows that for the top retailers, even if they have no Facebook fans, they can still expect to receive on average 62,000 visits from Facebook each month,” said Goad. “However, by utilizing this new service, brands can more rapidly build a fan base within Facebook and therefore drive more traffic to their website.”

Hitwise and Techlightenment also found that people are more likely to search for a fashion brand after visiting Facebook than in a normal search—for instance, consumers were 54 percent more apt to search for the Topshop brand after a visit to Facebook than they would in a typical Google, Bing, or Yahoo search.