“How much traffic can social media sites bring me?”
That is a question I often see, which is quickly followed by the refrain – “The traffic I receive from the effort spent isn’t worth it. Social media is highly overrated.” Other than StumbleUpon, I actually tend to agree with the notion that using social media sites for traffic can be highly overrated, but with reason. In most cases, you need to either write an extremely interesting article to get attention, or have a large extensive network of ‘friends’ in any particular network to help levitate your written piece over others.
But into my third month of blogging and learning curve, I also have to state that if you are trying to use social media sites for traffic first and foremost, then you have most likely missed the point of the whole exercise. For me, social media sites are all about building your network of willing close contacts, and in the case of blogging, your business network that will fuel the growth of all your present and future online ventures. Traffic is the most popular and by far, the easiest, measure to benchmark a site’s growth and potential.
With that, it is often easy to concentrate solely on all aspects of it, such as various methods to increase traffic, or conversion to generate revenue. When sites started reporting the traffic phenomenon that is the Digg effect, or StumbleUpon experience, it was natural for everyone to flock to leverage on these sites. I did the same thing. It would be wrong for me to say I did not benefit from social media sites, traffic-wise. There were some decent results, and I would not have gotten the majority of my traffic stats without them. However, I decided to look closer at why they worked for me, and if possible, how the factors could be replicated in other forms to reap the same benefits.
First of all, there are people who always seem to be in every social media site – the so-called social media power users. These are the ones who will expound the wonders of the medium but in comparison, the numbers are far fewer than those who struggle to derive any benefit from it. My opinion is that most social media sites are built on the same principles and structures. Succeed at one, and you usually have the blueprint for the rest. That is why you regularly see the same group of power users.
To me, it comes down to 3 core steps to succeed in any social media network:
Submit other people’s articles, more than your own. If you can help it, do not even submit your own articles. Ask others to help with that.
Communicate with anyone who submits, votes for or comments on your articles – which includes those that do the same on your own submissions. Build your network with them. I do not do these steps on a large scale due to time. But when applied to any network from my experience, more or less you can experience traffic benefits. However, as I mentioned earlier, if it is only traffic you want from social media sites, your time might seriously be better spent elsewhere as there are easier ways to boost your visitor ranks with greater end results. StumbleUpon is the only exception but even then, you need to spend time initially on the above. The real benefit from social media sites, for me, is from step 3 – building a network to build your brand.
A network of like-minded individuals, or support base, who find value in your content and are willing to spend their even more valuable time to hear you out and give you a vote of confidence – which provides a stamp of approval in the public’s eye. The greater your approval network, the better your work will stand out and the more perceived value attached to your brand.
Social media sites can be similar to any social or event convention, where most people attend primarily for networking purposes above the content. Except that online it goes 24/7, 365 days with no-end in sight. Of course, nothing beats a direct face-to-face engagement, but this serves as one of the best secondary options for any online marketer looking to build a network of industry or business associates who will help build your brand in the future.
It could be argued that sites like Digg also thrive on herd mentalities or close support cliques. But that is ignoring the fact that in most cases of marketing, success can be built on similar concepts, such as high-end luxury items built on faces of famous stars.
In case some of this sounds too cold, I have to disagree wholeheartedly. With the Internet’s reach, you have greater discernibility – sit back and the choice is up to you who to build relationships with. In any case, I always believe that one tends towards a crowd who shares his same ideals and practices. Social media sites make it easier in that you can determine this through the content, comments and actions that are open to all and on record. Ultimately, it is wholly up to you what market to target, and the community you want to build to facilitate serving this market.
At the end of the day, traffic can be had from social media sites, sometimes to amazing heights. But traffic is often the product of instant gratification – social and business relationships are longer lasting. They contribute more to your future and eventual success in any endeavor. Build these, and the rest, such as traffic, will follow.