Facebook traffic bounces back: What to make of the platform’s recovery

Facebook traffic has completely reversed course.

After a 40% decline from 2017 to mid-2018, traffic coming from the global platform is currently up more than 20% compared to this time last year.

More on the recent bounce back below.

Behind the Facebook rebound

Don’t necessarily call it a comeback. While the social platform’s traffic has rebounded from its 2017 lows, it appears that publisher sentiment has not. 

Here’s what we know:

  1. Publisher relationships with Facebook have significantly soured over the past few years. However, as Josh Schwartz, our head of product, engineering, and data science recently noted, “There’s a lot involved there, far more than just traffic, but it’s notable that the traffic has very significantly turned around.”
  2. While Facebook traffic is up by 15% in the U.S., it’s grown significantly more in the rest of the world. As of last week, U.S. sites only made up 28% of the top 50 sites that receive traffic from Facebook, compared to 38% a year ago.

(Related: The new Google News: How recent changes affect referral traffic data)

Earlier Facebook traffic trends

Let’s not forget — Facebook was down nearly 40% since January 2017. To take a brief trip down memory lane:

Top Sources of Mobile Traffic Across Chartbeat Sites

As the chart above indicates, mobile direct traffic to publishers was greater than traffic sent by Facebook to publishers’ sites (i.e., readers were more likely to get their news by typing in a publisher URL or opening an app than by being referred through Facebook).

We also received a glimpse at life without Facebook when the platform went down for 45 minutes in August 2018.

(For more on this topic, see: What happens when Facebook goes down? People read the news)

Facebook Referral Traffic for August 3, 2018

Early takeaways on Facebook’s rebound

As the global traffic data indicates, we shouldn’t be overly surprised that Facebook’s fall appears to have been short-lived.

It’s also worth paying attention to several developments, including new investments like the News Tab. As the platform finds more ways to draw traffic, it would be unsurprising to see a bit of a renaissance. Like publishers, we’ll continue to keep a close eye on the data.


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