October 31, 2014

5 Flaws of Social Media Traffic

Social media websites provide some of the best opportunities for free traffic generation. Unfortunately, there is also a downside to social media traffic. Here are a few of the flaws and a look at what you can do to overcome them.

1 – It’s Temporary

With most social media sites, success equals a burst of traffic for a day or two, and then it’s back to life as normal. While the surge in traffic can be exciting, it can be equally depressing when things return to status quo.

How to overcome it: It is possible to get steady traffic from social media. To increase your chances you can post frequently, develop high quality content, build a strong profile, and focus on sites like StumbleUpon that send lasting traffic rather than sites like Digg.

2 – It’s Not Targeted

Many of the visitors that you get through social media would not fall within your target market. They may just be clicking through based on interesting headlines or because they see a lot of other people voting for your stuff. Having a lack of targeted traffic means you will receive less significant results from the traffic.

How to overcome it: Take advantage of niche social media sites. They may have a lower number of users, but the quality will be higher and they’ll be more likely to fit into your target market. When you do submit to larger, general news sites, be careful to choose the most appropriate category. Many users view submissions according to the category they are associated with. Finally, don’t force a submission when it just doesn’t fit. Not everything will be a match for the social media audience.

3 – Too Much, Too Soon

Especially with the major sites like Digg, traffic can come so fast that many servers can’t handle it. The “Digg Effect” takes many sites down every day. Obviously, if your site is down the traffic is doing you no good. Some people prefer not to even deal with Digg traffic for this reason, because it can be more of a headache than it’s worth.

How to overcome it: If you plan to market with social media you must have quality hosting. Most low-price shared hosting services can not hold up to high traffic volumes, like the ones you will get from being on the front page of Digg. Quality hosting isn’t that much more expensive than some of the cheaper options, but the price won’t even be an issue once your site has crashed and you’re missing out on traffic. Trust me. I’ve been there.

4 – Negativity

Some sites, especially Digg, have notoriously negative users. Even very popular submissions to Digg will likely be filled with negative and derogatory comments (the comments on Digg itself, not necessarily on your blog). When you get your first submission promoted to the front page of Digg it can be pretty discouraging to read these types of comments.

How to overcome it: One of the keys to overcoming it is to simply expect the negativity and understand that is it usually not a reflection of the content itself, but rather a reflection of the audience. Another option is to not even read the comments. However, by not reading the comments you may be missing out on some valuable feedback. Although it may be hurtful, some of the comments can help you to see how you can improve.

5 – Visitors Take No Action

Huge volumes of traffic are nice, but ultimately you will want your visitors to take some kind of action. Maybe you want to gain subscribers, make sales, or get people to click on ads. All of these things can be very difficult with social media traffic. These visitors are generally interested in only taking a quick look at your site before returning to place where they found you. The conversion rates that you are getting from other sources of traffic will almost certainly see a big drop from social media traffic.

How to overcome it: Yes, conversion rates will be lower with social media traffic than with most other types of traffic, but the enormous potential amount of traffic from social media can more than make up for lower conversion rates. First, you need to understand the habits of social media users and adjust your strategy accordingly. Trying to sell a product directly to these visitors is almost certainly a losing effort. Rather, you may be better off focusing on using social media to build links or improve brand recognition, both of which can eventually lead to increased sales.

Know what you want from social media visitors and make it easy for them. For example, if you want to gain subscribers be sure that your subscription link is somewhere on the page that will be seen immediately. Keep the content very closely-related to the primary topics of your blog, and consider adding a small welcome message that reminds visitors to subscribe.

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

18 comments

  1. Whilst there are these drawbacks, it is a way of rating how good or on target your writing is. If you get something that does well in social media it is normally because you have written something that is worth stumbling/digging.

    I have looked at your post regarding niche social media. I now need to figure out which sites would be good for me to target.

  2. In my opinion, many people think too highly of social media sites as providers of loyal readers. Sure, you’ll get a large burst in traffic, but that doesn’t mean a thing without lasting subscriptions. I’m happy to see an article like this outlining the poorer aspects of social media. Good post!

  3. Tom,
    I agree. In most cases it is a good measuring stick, although it can be gamed. Yes, niche social media sites can be great resources.

    Evan,
    I’m just trying to give a balanced view, I’m glad you appreciate it. Overall I love social media because of what it can do, but some of the drawbacks are undeniable.

  4. Agree, the traffic is nice, but if its a one time view, its kind of useless, unless you can do something to grab their attention and get them to either stick around and browse or come back.

    DOTTED:
    http://www.newsdots.com/industrynews/5-flaws-of-social-media-traffic-traffikd/

  5. Hey Steven, your comment form & comment area is kinda messed up. First of all there are 2 subscribe to comments via email checkboxes and the font is too small in the comment area…

  6. Ruchir,
    Yes, I’m aware of it. I was making some changes a few days ago and haven’t had a chance to get it straightened out.

  7. Geoserv,
    Yes, it’s not quite the same as other types of traffic. Thanks for your feedback.

  8. The potential reward from social media traffic far out weigh its flaws. This is especially true for new blogs and websites. Before social media sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, etc, the only avenues for marketing were search engines, directories and forums. These avenues are slow at best. Social Media has really opened up the possibility of getting huge exposure early in the life of a site.

  9. Im still at a early stage with my various new blogs that I can really set back and watch with a healthy knowing glow and I will be confronted much much useful information.

    The problem then comes summarising for you own use, and this can be hard. Im starting slow, Stumble in one site I am quite active in mostly right now. And will build up from there, but no made rush to try everything an everyone at once.

    DIGG I really am debating on. Really my interest is helping other sites more than what it can do for me (nothing of my stuff is DIG material, so why bother) but I love to show my appreciate by DIGGIN knew stories etc.
    If I did this, my head would sure sure implode and become a much bigger hole than what was there initially. Now that hole in my head only hurt me, but this would be very unpleasant.

    Anyway, I digress. Another very useful read, absorbed and bookmarked for future reference.

    Ciao

  10. TzuVelli,
    I agree that the benefits outweigh the flaws. I’ve gained a lot from social media and I use it everyday. You’re absolutely right about being able to get traffic for a new site. This one is a good example. Within 24 hours of launch I had thousands of visitors with no money spent.

    Graham,
    I think its important to focus on just a few social sites and then to maybe use others occasionally. StumbleUpon would be my first choice if I could only use one.

  11. Hi Steven, Greetings from Malaysia. Great article. Would like to publish this in the next issue of Brand Equity mag. May I have your permission. Past issues can be viewed at the website. How may I credit this article to you? Can you send me a high res pic of yourself as well. Tx.

  12. Hi Ragunath,
    You cannot publish the complete article. If it’s online you can re-publish an excerpt with a link to this post. Thanks.

  13. Thank you Steven, would like to send you a copy of the excerpt first. Any email contact?

  14. you can email me at info at vandelaydesign dot com.

  15. I’m a newbie in this kind of field and I’m actually trying to figure out some traffic with social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon. Reading your article give me a heads up on what to expect when my “desired” traffic pour on my site. Thanks so much!

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