Summary: In the very recent past, a friend of mine [Kate] was lucky enough to get her website listed (bookmarked) on Digg, a very popular social bookmark site. With her permission, I was given an excellent chance to overlook and analyze the traffic generated from these types of sites. Read on to discover the pro's and con's of social media site traffic, and how it could be utilised in your own website or online marketing efforts.
In the very recent past, a friend of mine [Kate] was lucky enough to get her website listed (bookmarked) on Digg, a very popular social bookmark site. With her permission, I was given an excellent chance to overlook and analyze the traffic generated from these types of sites. Read on to discover the pro's and con's of social media site traffic, and how it could be utilised in your own website or online marketing efforts.
Firstly, it should be said that any sort of internet traffic, should not be considered useless. Visitors to your site should all be welcomed, as any visitor is a good thing. In saying that, however, it should be noted that traffic in all its greatness, is not created equally. Great differences become apparent when you start to analyze its source. The purpose of this article, is to take a much closer look at the traffic generated from social bookmarking, from the perspective of internet marketing.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 2 years, you'd notice a very big trend on the web--social bookmark and media websites have become "all that" on the web. Slashdot, Stumbleupon, Digg; any of these popular sites sound familiar?
This is where a lot of social bookmark traffic will originate from. In essence, these sites are driven and "controlled" by the users. Users or members choose which content they want to bookmark, and this will lead into viewing and discussing of said bookmarked content. Sites such as these are immensely popular, and flow traffic that the average website owner can only ever imagine having. Thats a lot of traffic, isn't it? But is it really useful?
All this traffic and hype must be a good thing, right? But is it really worth your time? Should you integrate active promotion to these types of social media websites? What about concentrating all your online marketing strategies on these types of sites? The question more at point is, what are the real pro's and con's of getting your website listed on the front page of sites like Stumbleupon or Digg?
As a website owner myself, I wanted answers, and I wanted them quickly. In addition, I wondered if utilising these sites could benefit me; i.e, could they help me generate more income online?
Recently, my friends listing on Digg enabled me to have a upclose look at these sites, and the effects they brought to a website owner. This was a chance for a first-hand, upclose study; I was not about to pass this up.
However, this didn't happen by chance. Kate took the action of placing the free "Addthis.com" bookmark to all her pages. You can also do this quite easily. Using this simple bookmark "button", you can start to attract these sites. However, be warned; a site featured on the front page of social media sites can almost instantly generate 100,000's of visitors to your website; this in essence is enough traffic that it may overload your server. Not good!
So be careful; active promotion to these social bookmark sites should only be taken upon if your servers or web hosting company can withstand the sudden influx of traffic.
With Kate's permission, I utilised Google Analytics and started to analyze these types of visitors and social bookmark traffic generated. Interestingly enough, some very important factors were realised. The Majority of this traffic will:
- Simply bounce back.
- Very few visitors will stay on your site; even for a short period of time.
- Very few visitors will actually go into the depths of your site.
- If you have a newsletter or similar, you'll notice that very few sign-up for these.
- If you utilise any type of marketing follow-ups, etc, very few will enter.
(In saying this, an unknown variable is the content of your site. Is it well written? Does it perform well? Is it useful or attractive to the visitor?)
Traffic from these sites does pose a very common problem, however; its temporary traffic, to say the least. The mass amount of traffic generated will usually only last a few days at most, that is, until your listing or bookmark is removed from the front page. Most of these visitors will rarely remain on your website for long, and the majority leave within seconds. In saying that, you may have a few sign-up's to your newsletter or Ezine, or visitors that explore your site. But keep in mind, this number will not be very high.
Social media site traffic can be likened to customers in the drive-thru sections of fast food restaurants; they come and go as quick as they came. The visitors will basically view your content, and before you know it, have already left, surfing back to the main site to venture onto the next item or listing. Social bookmark traffic will always behave differently, to a large extent, when compared to organic search engine traffic, or your newsletter traffic, for instance. Very differently.
Visitors from Kate's article posts will generally add up to 50 to a 100 new sign-ups a day; much different when compared to social bookmark traffic. In addition, readers and visitors to her articles are actually interested in her content, and therefore have been previously exposed to similiar content upon reaching her website. So in this case, there was no comparison.
The choice of traffic will always lay in the visitors generated from search engines, atleast when comparing to the traffic from social bookmarking sites. A question still remains, however-- is social bookmark traffic really all that useless?
Firstly, as previously mentioned, you need to remember that no traffic should be considered useless. Any type of visitor to your website should be counted as a good thing. Any website owner should realise that getting traffic and visitors to your website is a must; otherwise its game over.
When someone searches for a particular term in a search engine, and they end up at your website, this means that your visitor is there because you have what they're looking for. This type of traffic is essential to your website. Visitors like these are considered to be "targeted traffic"; that is, they're more likely to read your pitch-page, overlook your information, sign-up to a newsletter, or even buy a product. Additionally, they may also become repeat visitors. Traffic like this is ideal. These are the types of visitors you really want.
However, its not all bad news. Social media or bookmark sites do have a bright side.
How would you like the possibility of your website gaining exposure to millions of people? Sounds good, doesn't it? Even though you may not get sales, for instance, this traffic can assist in getting your websites name out there; branding it, creating a buzz.
If your website appeals to a more mass market, then you are even more in luck. Social bookmark traffic in this case can be an excellent source of traffic and visitors.
Social sites such as these also have another added bonus; gaining a link on high PR7 and PR8 websites, with high traffic flow, can't hurt your search engine rankings. After your website is featured on a social media site such as Digg, your link can also appear on a large number of secondary websites on the web, as much as 1000 or more. Much of this traffic will also be using the Firefox web browser, which is embedded with the Alexa toolbar-- what does this do for you? Your Alexa traffic rank will be improved. As much as 50% of the visitors hitting Kate's website we're running the Firefox browser.
Something worth pointing out, is that the traffic generated from Stumbleupon was much different. Longer stay durations were the common thing in this traffic, that is, this traffic behaved more like organic traffic. This could possibly be attributed to the fact that Stumbleupon is a higher quality site, and this was reflected from the higher quality of the visitors originating from there. This also made me come to the realisation that not all social media/bookmark traffic can be measured with the same stick. This experience also pointed me out to something important; the content featured on Kate's website is geared towards targeted visitors from search engines and articles, and is generally not suited to the mainstream net-surfer.
An idea to better take advantage of this type of traffic, is to gear your website and its content to more mainstream internet users. Whether or not this enables you to achieve a greater level of success, is largely dependant on what you offer and how it is offered. Another unknown variable, unfortunately.
In the near future, I hope to gain the chance to further study social bookmark traffic, and its long-term effects on websites. In specific, the effect it would have on keyword rankings and link popularity rankings in search engines; only then can I come to any type of real judgements. However, for now, my mind is being kept open, and the idea is being tossed up as to whether social media and bookmark traffic is actually worth the time or the effort. Is the time taken away from your usual day-to-day marketing efforts worth it?
Guess there is only one way to find out, really.