Everybody in the search marketing industry has fallen head over heels for social media. Certainly it’s nice to see those traffic spikes in your website stats. Personally, I see social media as excellent for viral marketing, branding and long-term relationship building. But I don’t see that new visitors coming to a site from social media sites are particularity interested in taking action on content. Why? Most of them are not in that particular mindset. For first time visits, search engine and affiliate traffic simply convert better.
Unless your monetization strategy is to sell page views you need to keep hitting the home page of the social media sites on a consistent basis in order to take advantage of them. What works best I find is a balanced approach to building traffic. Let me illustrate this by sharing two recent events that sent notable traffic spikes to this blog, as well as the resulting fallout from that traffic.
The first spike was thanks to power stumbler Andy Beard stumbling my post about PageRank and several of his friends voting the story up. I had 357 RSS subscribers at the time, and the post received 946 views that day (October 30th). The next day I received 134 page views and Feedburner reported 350 RSS subscribers. Thanks to Feedburner’s inherent inaccuracy that doesn’t mean people unsubscribed from my blog, but it does tell me that I received no new subscribers from that amazing increase in traffic.
The second spike was yesterday and was because I had requested a paid review from the popular blog John Chow dot Com. I received 1,022 page views and had 332 subscribers. Today I am over 480 page views so far and Feedburner reports 427 RSS subscribers—almost 100 new subscribers, a 30% increase! On top of that, I also got additional traffic to my company and my upcoming product site, as well as qualified leads for my private beta program.
Why the big difference in results from similar page views and visits?
The right visitor mindset
When people are stumbling, digging, and doing their social media thing, they are set on doing one particular task: to digg or bury the story; to vote the content up or down; to bookmark or not, and so on. In contrast, when people read reviews or product/service recommendations, they are interested in learning more and potentially buying or trying it out. This is one of the reasons why I love affiliate marketing. The power of affiliate marketing is not just that you can make money without owning a product (as an affiliate marketer), or that you can promote your product with no marketing budget (as an affiliate merchant), the real power is in pre-sales. People trust what others say about you more than what you say about yourself.
In this particular case, Michael Kwan from John Chow dot Com wrote a well-balanced and very positive review of this blog. He included both praise and critiques that I accepted and immediately acted upon. Few people believe in perfection; there is always something that can be improved, and that is why endorsements that mention both positive and negative things have far more impact than ones that say everything is perfect.
When you read the review it sounds like a solid recommendation providing reasons why his readers would want to read my blog, as well as points where he thought the blog could improve upon. In addition to his review, a mutual reader, David Darey, commented on the story, reinforcing why others should pay a visit to this blog. It is natural to think many people reading that review came here with the mindset of becoming an active reader. If you are one of John’s readers, welcome to my blog and feel free to express yourself in the comments.
One of the reasons why I waited 6 months to start marketing the blog seriously is because it is easier to market a good product than it is to market a bad (or incomplete) one. If I only had a handful of low quality posts I am sure the review would not have been as positive, and the results would not have been so stellar. Half a year ago, I decided to take time out from my already busy workday to build a quality blog over time; I’d worry about promoting it later. In the end, it has been a test of patience, but also a rewarding experience.
Traffic spikes for everyone
How can you duplicate this?
Focus on building quality content based on your own unique knowledge and experience. I blog mostly about SEO, which is a topic that has been beaten to death, yet I can always find an idea or angle not yet discussed.
Encourage people both to praise and critique your content. We all like to hear applause, but it is the criticism that makes the blog better. Learn to listen and act on good critiques.
Promote your content on bigger blogs to tap into that blog’s audience. You don’t necessarily need to take the lazy approach I took by paying for a review. Alternatively, you can invest a few hours researching and writing an exceptional post and equally exceptional pitch, and send both to your favorite A-list blogger. I chose to pay because for me is easier to find the money than to find the time to do that. Of course I do plan to start guest posting soon. Not every blog I want to target accepts paid reviews!
Have you tried doing this? Tell me about your peaks and valleys in the comments.