Unless you have been living under a digital rock, you probably know the increasing importance of social-media marketing to your business both today and in the future. However, it is important to know that social media is not a panacea – it is not a magic bullet that will get you a quick million dollars in sales in return. If it were, then every business would be successful within weeks of creating a Facebook page or Twitter account.
Social media, just like any other strategy or tactic, needs to be executed in the best way – in other words, in the way that is most applicable and beneficial to your specific business. No two businesses – or their websites – are exactly the same.
Here is one example. Back in 2006, Rand Fishkin wrote about how much traffic he received from the social-media network StumbleUpon and offered the graphic at the top of this post. Fishkin’s post six years ago correctly provides an example of how much traffic a social-networking website can deliver, but it is important to keep such numbers in context.
Just because a certain source – whether a social-media network or something else – brings you a lot of traffic does not mean that it is bringing you good traffic. Here are the top ten referring websites for a certain website whose data I am analyzing:
Three of the top-ten referrers (outlined in red), as may be expected, are Facebook, StumbleUpon, and Twitter. Sounds great, right? Well, look more closely at the third, fourth, and last columns (from left to right):
- Facebook: 1.67 average number of pages viewed; 3:13 average time on site; and a bounce rate of 70%
- StumbleUpon: 1.14; 0:12; and 87%
- Twitter: 1.65; 3:15; and 81%
What does this tell you? People coming to this particular site from StumbleUpon view far fewer pages, spend barely any time on the website, and are very likely to leave without clicking anything on the site. I would tell the owner of this website, who wants to prioritize social-media marketing, to focus more on Facebook and Twitter instead.
(Of course, this is data from just one website – your specific results may be vastly different, and your resulting strategy would be different as well.)
The reason is clear: people who are more likely to buy are those who spend more time on the website, view more pages, and take a greater interest in what is being presented. StumbleUpon may have brought 1,700 visits over this time period, but it is unlikely that this website had a lot of sales from many people. The point: Would you rather have 50,000 visitors that buy $1,000 worth of goods in a month or 10,000 visitors who buy $100,000 worth in a month? In most businesses, the best gauge of results is the money – not traffic from a social-media network or any other source in and of itself. Therefore, it makes sense to invest more marketing efforts in the sources that will attract more of the customers who will purchase $100,000 worth of goods.
Late last year, Jeff Bullas (among others) reported that StumbleUpon is delivering more overall online traffic than Facebook. To be honest, I yawned when I read that article. Sure, that social-media network might bring a lot of traffic, but if the average visitor spends only twelve seconds at a website (as in the above example), then what should I care?
Of course, I do not mean to pick on StumbleUpon. I am sure that many businesses and website owners find its traffic to be valuable. (After all, if no one thought the network to be useful, StumbleUpon’s more than 10 years of existence would not have been possible.) The point is that any social-media network – or any other specific source of marketing leads and prospects – is not going to be useful to everyone.
If your business has selected social-media marketing as a strategy, then you need to execute that strategy as efficiently and productively as possible. The website I cited above would probably want to ignore StumbleUpon. You might want to do something different. The key is that not all social-media networks – just like not all types of marketing in general – are created equal for everyone.
What, exactly, will work for your business?