“I came, I shared, I left.” – in many cases, this is the pattern that forms from traffic arriving from social platforms to many sites on the web today. Take a snapshot of the traffic to your website from social bookmarking sites, Twitter, Facebook et al, and you’ll see high bounce rates, low time on site, and generally low engagement. The upshot, for many site owners, is that social traffic is harder to monetise and indeed to convert to sales, or to advertising clicks.
So why the fuss?
This is the very question someone from a traditional business background asked me recently. Is social media really all hype, considering it offers low quality traffic? My response, was firmly no. There are a number of advantages to obtaining social traffic at any volume to your site, which aren’t immediately obvious, and justify why it requires attention from business owners regardless of their industry. Here’s why it should be ignored as a traffic source.
Social media traffic increases brand recognition.
To anyone with basic knowledge of economics, business works like this.
Revenue – (Advertising Cost +Production Cost) = Income.
When it comes to quantifying social media ROI, it looks like the online advertising cost in this case really hasn’t paid off, particularly when compared against say, cost per click.You have to think about the brand reinforcement and recognition that will somewhere down the line convert to business, to treat it as a way of solely generating direct business is a flawed approach. Think about the long game.
Social media traffic powers your SEO.
Here’s the kicker that many people don’t get. Social traffic, and a social presence generally is massively important for organic SEO. Directly, AND Indirectly.
It is a massive driver in delivering links, and exposure. Here’s a breakdown of how it works for the unconvinced. Lets take two fictional website case studies, one using social media marketing (website X), the other not (website Y).
Website ‘X’ regularly create new content on their blog. Although similar to many other pieces of content found on competitors websites, it is well written, and is seen by 10% of the existing customers to the website for that day. However these visitors are concentrating more on buying, and haven’t got much time to read Website X’s blog. It is tweeted and shared a few times by those existing customers that see it, but it doesn’t get much traction. It is picked up by Google, and due to the websites current popularity and incoming links, ranks poorly on Google for it’s chosen keyword terms.
Website Y begins a social campaign that concentrates on building an existing audience to market to on a variety of channels. Prior to the content creation process, they have implemented RSS (subscriptions), an email marketing database, a Facebook page with over 1000 subscribers, and are engaged on Twitter with another 1000 followers.
Whilst these audiences don’t match the profile of their customers who normally buy widgets from Website Y, they have managed to accumulate over 4000 people on these channels who enjoy the content that they share on a daily basis. Website Y spends on average about 2-3 hours every day sharing useful content from other websites and their own to create a loyal following.
Website Y decide to publish an exceptional blog post related to the widgets that they sell. It’s completely unique in its approach, and can’t be found anywhere else online. They know that they can’t rely solely on the existing visitors to the website to gain traction and get it seen, so publish it on all the channels that they have available to them. They engage in an outreach program with other Widget bloggers to see if they would be interested in linking to it. They promote the content on other channels around the web with more traffic than them.
Thankfully the efforts pay off.
Website Y’s content gets infront of an influential twitter user who in turn retweets to his collection of over 1 million followers. The retweets explode, and the content begins to get shared all over the web, and saved in people’s bookmarks. It hits the Delicious hotlist. This in turn results in new links back to Website Y, all with the valuable link text that drives SEO positions. In a few weeks, the article’s popularity results in a first page position on Google due to the number of links from around the web that it generated, and a new fresh collection of targeted, relevant customers. Website Y adds a few links to the bottom of the article to push traffic through to its main ecommerce offering, further increasing sales.
Which of these scenarios looks more like your marketing? Website X have identified that content brings visitors, yet continue to develop it on mass, hoping something sticks, and attempting to build traffic a dribble at a time. Website Y have identified that firing a more direct shot, with a more tailored approach to their marketing AND content brings the kind of results that drive both sales and traffic. You can have your cake and eat it.
Google have also mentioned that they are tracking social mentions in their algorithms now as well, so the benefits are two fold. Links + Social mentions are now driving SEO positions. Matt says so too.
Social media traffic grows traffic.
Social traffic doesn’t provide direct sales. What it does provide however, is volume, and we there is inherent value in that. That volume of traffic is useful for ad impressions. It’s also useful for building relationships with people who ordinarily wouldn’t have visited your site. You may not be able to convert it to sales; but are you measuring how many RSS subscribers you gained, or how many additional followers on Twitter, or how many new Facebook fans you’ve received?
You should be.
All of these pull marketing platforms make a difference for the next time you’ve got something to broadcast, and increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to get your message to stick. That’s the real value. It increases your reach exponentially, and increases the chances that your future content will see the light of day, and indeed generate the links that make the difference between being first on Google, or on page ten for your chosen terms.
I think social traffic is a must for any website, in any industry. Hopefully I’ve convinced those of you who don’t already believe, that it is too.