With Facebook becoming the most visited website, surpassing the mighty Google, for the first time it is clear that the social media phenomena cannot be ignored.
But is it about time bloggers focused on these sites as a primary traffic source instead of the search engines?
This post forms part of our series on 29 debates bloggers have about blogging.
The Social Media Phenomenon
Many so called experts dismissed the new wave of social media networks as a passing fad when they began to gain ground in the first decade of the 21st century.
However they were quickly proved wrong as sites like MySpace, Facebook and the newer micro blogging site Twitter have all become massively popular destinations on the Internet. Social media sites allow us all to become publishers of our own content and to build connections with like minded people in ways that we have never been able to before.
These connections form an incredibly strong pool of prospective blog readers that you need to think about tapping into.
Using Social Media to Your Advantage
In a previous post in this Blogercise series, I have discussed the benefit of building our own websites. I talked about how I believe we are better off building our own sites that we own and control – if for no other reason than the site can’t be shut down on the whim of a faceless corporation.
However we can still utilise social networks to build up our sites and send targeted traffic to our blog where hopefully the visitors will become long term readers.
Getting the Right People to Your Site
An early lesson that some new bloggers learn the hard way is to know that not all traffic is equal. I know some sites that get 1000s of daily visitors yet achieve almost no conversions. Yet I have small static niche sites that get no more than 10 visitors a day yet make 2 or 3 sales. That’s a few pounds each and every day 365 days a year for a site that requires no further input. Repeat that a few times and you can see why website building quickly becomes exciting!
New bloggers often work very hard to get their site into a prime position on a social media site, the classic example is getting to the front page of Digg. Achieving this feat will guarantee you a massive, yet short lived, boost in visitors yet normally this not accompanied by a likewise increase in sales. Unfortunately these sites tend to send over the wrong type of traffic.
There are two types of Internet browser:
- Those sitting at their PC with their wallet on the desk looking for something specific. They are there to make a purchase and it’s all about who that purchase will be made through.
- And then there are people who are just clicking around aimlessly, no matter how good your sales pitch these people just aren’t going to be customers.
Why do Search Engines Work?
The genius behind the search engine business model is that the engine provider, yes that normally means Google, knows exactly what you are looking for and can therefore target you with highly relevant advertising. If you type in “buy flared trousers” then it is highly likely that you are looking to buy flared trousers! If you are a trouser retailer then these are the people you want to target.
So by targeting your site around certain keywords you can have a large influence over the type of traffic that the search engines send over to you. This can be much harder to do on social media websites.
Primarily my goal is to create useful sites that meet the needs of my readers, this is the Blogercise way! However my next objective is to think about how search engines will respond to my site, and finally I will use social media outlets to communicate with people on the net – which is after all their primary purpose!
How Can I use Social Media Sites to boost my Blog?
When you get things right however, social traffic can prove very useful to you. You just need to think carefully about what you are doing as you may end up wasting some serious effort.
Don’t be one of these fools who follow as many Twitter users as they can each day in the hope that the same people will follow them back. I have lost count of how many times I’ve seen accounts with 20,000 followers and the same following. Of course no one is really paying attention to the fleeting transient tweets that flutter by and I bet most of them are automated bots following other automated bots! What a waste of time for all involved.
Here are some tips on how to use social media networks to drive traffic to your blog:
- If you are a twitter user then follow me because you are interested in this site and what I have to say and for no other reason. By keeping your twitter list targeted people might actually care about what you are writing and take the time to read or even respond to your tweets.
- Facebook groups are my favourite tool of the moment. Earlier in this post I talked about the dangers of chasing high volume meaningless traffic. But groups allow you to focus people around a specific interest. From here you can link to your blog, build your brand, or hopefully both.
- Flickr is a site that is often left out of these types of discussions. But again this is a site I have used successfully to build contacts and drive traffic. Almost everyone has a digital camera these days, whether on their phone, a compact, or a full on SLR beast. Inviting people to contribute pictures of a specific product gets people engaged and once a group begins to grow it can be another hub delivering people to your site.
Personally I focus my attention on search engines, but an ongoing presence on the major social sites will definitely do you many favours. Besides they can be great fun and you know what, you can even make new friends!
Just remember to focus on building quality meaningful connections rather than chasing huge quantities of unqualified traffic that will do nothing (other than crash your site!).