Mob vs Smart Mob: Why Social Media Traffic Is Valuable

Bird view of people crossing a road on a busy intersection.

Over the years many people in marketing or business in general have questioned the value of social media traffic. Are they right? No!

I have been among the critics even though I hailed it as the best traffic source in the early days of this blog. Why?

What happened? Are people visiting you from social media sites like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest still worth having on your site?

Consider my cycling blog I have published in German for a few years. In recent years I was unable to take care of it. I mostly updated existing content.

Yet despite the lack of new content and the existing one being in German I get daily traffic from Pinterest sites from all over the world.

Let’s make a few things clear before we start. Social media traffic is different in a few important ways from other types of traffic (think direct traffic or search traffic).

Visitors from social media are

  • casually interested in you
  • they know you in many cases
  • they are perusing the Web
  • they are not ready to buy yet

What does it mean? In marketing language it means that social media visitors are in teh eraly stages of the sales funnel or not at all in it.

Social media is mostly used for discovery. People discover new places, products, trends or simply news in general on social media sites.

In case you want to sell on the first date you will be disappointed by social media.

Compared to Google traffic – that is people who have often searched for the exact product or service they seek – social media users are still wondering what they want.

Many social media users even wonder whether they want something at all. They are just wasting time online out of boredom in many cases.

Some people are simply addicted to social media and its gamification aspect. They don’t want to leave at ll so outgoing links to your site often get ignored.

Yet despite all of this you can build an audience on social media or get a traffic boost when you do it right and are genuine and helpful in some way.

Let me present widely accepted reasons why social media traffic is valuable and worth the investment. It’s not just about vanity!

It’s very relevant! Social media is like a huge recommendation engine. Their users often follow people from certain niches.

People who are already interested in you or your topic follow you on social media and ideally click through to your site.

Sometimes your content gets accidentally or virally exposed to other less relevant audiences which can result in a backlash.

New visitors: Social media traffic often means predominantly new visitors. These are new visitors that are really interested in your topic not just any visitors. They are friends of friends.

On Twitter or Facebook mostly people you already know click the links but sometimes also ohesr who are connected.

On sites like Pinterest or Instagram people who are drawn in by the visual appeal of your content visit your site.

Recurring: My cycling blog is the best example. It has been published originally from 2008 to 2010 and sporadically later on it still gets traffic from Pinterest after all these years.

After all the images are still attractive. Reddit, Twitter and Facebook traffic in contrast occurs once and in most cases never again on the same post.

Steady: Social media traffic comes in steadily with occasional recurring bursts. Articles from my blog here have gone viral more than once after a few years and updates.

Some blogs simply get steady traffic every single day. Pinterest does that for me. I get at least  dozens visits from Pinterest on a daily basis.

This is not much you might argue, but for a small niche blog like mine that has like 100 visitors a day without social media it’s substantial.

No comments: Social media users already talk about your content on social media. They don’t waste your time with nagging comments.

In the past the sheer number of comments was a blog quality metric. Over the years most blog comments turned either spammy, low quality or abusive though.

This way I’m glad that most people limit their conversation to their own accounts. I don’t have to react or clean that up on my site.

International: While search and direct traffic is often very limited locally you can tap into completely new and foreign audiences on social media.

when you have something universally appealing to offer people from all over the world will flock to your site. Again my cycling blog comes to mind.

Instant: New blogs and sites won’t get any significant traffic from Google and it takes a while to build links so get Google ranks you at all.

Social media can have an immediate effect though. You or ideally someone else shares your content and you get traction instantly.

Of course it takes to build an audience on Twitter and Facebook but I got traffic from Pinterest long before I even joined the site.

Conclusion: In case you set up a new blog or site that targets a niche try to target the social media audience.

Then make the people who share your content your friends all over the place and subscribe to your blog by way of

  • feeds
  • mail
  • notifications

You don’t even have to engage on Pinterest as a blogger. Focus on attracting existing users interested in your topic or reach out to influencers.

Also do not solely focus on Google. Google does not send any significant traffic to new sites to prevent spam. Only older authority sites can generate significant organic Google traffic.

 

Last updated: August 7th, 2018. I rewrote the article completely to make it relevant for social media as a whole not just a single and by now defunct website.