Social media is touted as the latest and greatest way of reaching out and connecting with people, especially in the context of businesses trying to grab new customers. Therefore, it’s only natural that people would start asking questions like “Just how valuable IS social media traffic anyway?”
After all, how many times as something new been subsequently hyped to death, only to fall short of expectations? Could that be the case with social media? Is it just a lot of hot air, sound and fury, ultimately signifying nothing?
Whip out your microscopes, folks, and let’s take a closer look. Is social media traffic valuable?
Social media has its uses in e-commerce, but it’s not a cure-all
Some Research Says “No”
According to “Are Social Network Visitors Actually Valuable to Your Publication?”, data gathered from the Pew Research Center, Shareaholic, and a social media study conducted by East Carolina University, conversion numbers from social networks aren’t very impressive. People who visited a website thanks to a search result tended to stick around longer, visit more pages, and have a smaller bounce rate. Unsurprisingly, those search engine-originated sales outperform those gained through social network sites.
In the spirit of full disclosure, however, it should be noted that the Pew research was limited to news websites.
So, Social Media Isn’t Necessary, Right?
Not so fast. Although it may be true that social media seems to be good at getting people to visit though they tend to not stick around and buy anything, the point that they bring in lots of people in the first place simply cannot be overlooked.
For starters, not all sites are selling something. Some sites out there just want traffic, perhaps to simply build exposure, or to impress advertisers and hopefully score better ad revenue. In these cases, yes, social media visits are utterly valuable.
But for those who are trying to actually run a business where goods and/or services are offered, the situation is a little trickier.
The Key Is Involvement
It’s easy to categorize Internet users as attention-deficient people who are distracted by random shiny objects. Fine then. If you can’t beat ’em join ’em, and BE the shiny object! It’s not enough to simply get social media users to visit your page; you need to engage them and grab their interest by getting them to interact with you, and to drive home the point that they will actually benefit by interacting.
Even the most attention-deficient visitor would want to get something cool, or have the chance to give their opinion, or ideally, both! This means getting people involved in a virtual community that’s guided by your business and its website. Create polls, post questions, hold a photo contest, ask for ideas and feedback on what sort of things people want to buy; these are the shiny objects that will grab people’s attention and compel them to stick around.
If you want to know where to start, “Best Social Media Channels For Business Marketing” can give you a good idea or two.
Just Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
No, you can’t depend on social media to meet all of your publicity and exposure needs, or single-handedly drive traffic to your site. But you can’t ignore it either; it’s too big and there are too many people who use it. The best solution is to take a balanced approach and make social media just one tool in your outreach campaigns.
Rather than making social media your total meal, consider it instead to be a nice side dish that completes the dining experience, and whose absence would make the quality suffer. Bon appetit!