Just a few months ago, I met this blogger named Wade. He runs a blog called Bloggers Make Money and basically teaches other people how to make money on the Internet. He has been very successful with his blog – so much so that he was able to take up blogging full time after an accident that prevented him from doing his full-time “traditional” job. Social MediaHe recently posted a bunch of articles about how to get traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon, and a few other social networks. After speaking with Wade personally (and not just reading his blog), I learned that he actually does receive most of his traffic from social networks – most notably Twitter. He is very much against “writing for Google” and relies on social media for most of his success. I don’t necessarily disagree that social media is a bad strategy, but you need to very careful and make sure that it isn’t your only source of traffic. A healthy blog with good SEO should be getting about 50% of traffic from search engines in my opinion.

Users Need To Opt-In To See Your Updates

Unlike Google, Yahoo, Ask, and other search engines, readers need to physically opt-in to see your updates on Facebook, Google Plus, or Twitter. This normally consists of “following” a user, “liking” a page, or something of that manner. I could have 100,000 unique visitors to my blog every month, but if none of them are choosing to follow my blog on any of my social network profiles, then my entire social media strategy is going to waste.

Success Is Directly Proportional With Followers

Honestly, you probably won’t have any success on social networks unless you have at least 1,000 followers on a single network. If you only have 100 legitimate followers on Twitter (buying followers does nothing but boost numbers), you are only reaching out to 100 people. Assuming that only 50% of the followers read your tweet and of those people, 10% actually click the post, your tweet only generated 5 views to your blog.

Social Networks Can Be Abandoned – Fast

If you think back to 2008, you probably remember MySpace. MySpace was a great social network that I really enjoyed – I could edit my profile with HTML code to make it mine, they had an IM service that was better than Yahoo Messenger and all other competition at the time, and all of my friends were there! In 2008 companies were telling users to go to their MySpace profile on commercials, on billboards, and other forms of advertisement. I spent hours on the network every day communicating with my friends. They had millions of users that logged on daily to change their profile, edit their “top friends”, post a status update, and more. But by 2010, MySpace was dead and deserted. In a very short amount of time, Facebook picked up popularity and MySpace lost users rapidly only to be sold a couple of times and to this day has still not made a recovery.

Think of it this way… If you put all of your apples in one basket and the basket breaks, you’re screwed. The same goes for social networking. If you put all of your effort into building your Facebook profile but neglect Twitter, Google Plus, and other social networks (that are actually becoming popular), it could come back to bite you. If Facebook deteriorates as fast as MySpace did, your blog may start to get cobwebs as well.

Posts Do Not Stay At The Top

Think about this scenario… If you have 2,000 followers on your Twitter profile, you may think that you have struck gold and going to have instant success when using Twitter. However, if each one of those users is following 5,000 people, each user has a 0.02% chance of seeing your tweet, assuming that each of their 5,000 people they are following posts one tweet per day. If you multiply that by 2,000 (for the amount of followers you have), there is a 40% chance of your tweet even being seen. These are just rough estimates because obviously not every one of your followers is following 5,000 people and if they are, the likeliness that they each post one tweet per day is slim. However, in a perfect world, your tweet will be seen 40% of the time.

This is significant because your tweets only have a chance to be seen once (unless somebody retweets it). Twitter does not organize things in order of importance or authority, they organize everything in time order. Once a follower has passed over your tweet, they are most likely never going to see it again. In search engines (like Google), posts can remain at the top of the page for years without being bumped down. This has to do with SEO tactics, link building for specific keywords, etc. If you type “how to make lumpia” into Google, you will find that my micro niche website How To Make Lumpia is the first result (and has been for about five months now). This is because I have built links using those specific keywords, it’s the name of the website (and the domain name), and I have an authority built up. In contrast, if I were to share that website on my Facebook page, my friends would probably only see it once and it would be gone – buried under heaps of other posts.

Users May Not Always Need What You Are Sharing At The Time

If you run a blog about fixing problems, advice, or any kind of topic that isn’t needed by everybody all the time, social media will prove very ineffective. Take my post about fixing a kernel panic on my MacBook Pro. I posted this article and shared it to social media that same day, but my main traffic source for this particular article is Google. In fact, this is the #1 viewed article on Omega Web for three months in a row now. Why? Because people who are looking for ways to fix MacBook Pro kernel panics type in the search terms to Google and are shown my post as a result. This post was unsuccessful on social media because only people who were having problems with their MacBook Pro, saw my Facebook update, and clicked it would find my article. However, it will live forever on Google where anybody can find it when they need it. The likeliness that one of my Facebook followers was having the same problem and needed an answer at the exact time of me sharing the article is pretty much nonexistent.

What Do You Think?

Before I invite you to the comments, remember that I am not bashing social media completely – I am just trying to open the eyes of the heavy social networkers. I’m not about arguing for which method is “best” because like science, things can change every day. What may be best on Tuesday may not necessarily be the best strategy on Wednesday. Things in the online world change quickly so something I have mentioned in this post can possibly become obsolete within a few months… Who knows? Please be respectful in the comments, but I want to see what you think about this topic and how you use social media as part of your blog strategy.

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27 Responses to Why Social Media Is a Sketchy Traffic Source For Your Blog

  • Hi,
    Social media is always the best way to get free traffic, that’s why i have joined almost 30+ related groups for my blog. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article.

  • Hey Ian, I agree that social media sites are a great traffic source for many bloggers like Wade, but If you want to convert your visitors into profits than you need organic traffic. I also agree that buying followers can do nothing, but increasing the number same applies for social media traffic.

    Social media traffic do nothing, but increasing the number of visits. They’ll never buy anything from your link and won’t click on your Adsense ads.

    That’s my opinion!

    Thanks for this post 🙂

  • No one should abandon an SEO strategy. You’re totally right when you say social media is fickle. The traffic is not constant, you have to stay busy with it!

    However, compared to some high competition keywords in the search engines, traffic can come faster through social media.

    Having said that, if you can bring your post to the first page of Google after months of building links, then that traffic is great as well.

    In the end, both are fickle, & you still end up having to work your butt off, but hey, who said blogging was easy anyway, right?

  • it is in my opinion the best way to get good traffic to your blog and it also helps to market our post on a better level.

  • Pingback: How To Get Blog Traffic
  • Hi Ian,
    All the points you mentioned about social media being a sketchy traffic source for a blog are really true. I agree with you that a healthy blog must have different sources of traffic, because if we only stick to one kind of method, then once that single method fails, then your blog will potentially become an empty space, which means bye-bye traffic!
    I think some people get a lot of traffic from social media because they already have a considerable amount of “friends” or “fans” there.

    • I agree. Like I said in the article, social media is the one that is likely to “go out of style” the quickest. But if you spent all of your time optimizing your site for Yahoo Search a few years ago and then Google took over, you’re screwed either way.

      • Hi Ian,
        Optimizing your site for Yahoo Search before Google took over – I was not aware that it would be a lost cause when one optimized their site for Yahoo. I agree that Google has become the top choice as a search engine, but I think there are still a lot of people who use Yahoo initially. However, if you ask me, once I experienced the ease of using Google, I never went back to using Yahoo.

        • I don’t use Yahoo anymore because the amount of users is so little that it’s not worth spending time doing SEO for it. That’s how I feel about Ask.com, AltaVista, and other search engines as well. I’d rather put my effort where the people actually are.

  • Your all the point’s are totally right… In present most of the online business and blog are complete their lead gen about 70% just because of the Social Media and social media is the one of the best advertising platform….

  • Social media is a fast paced environment and is constantly changing, so who knows in five years down the line a different method may be the best way to get your website or your blog more interest from users. Social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter may for some people be the best ways to increase traffic, whereas others prefer more traditional methods.

  • Social media is most definitely the faster way to build traffic as compared to all other means. Thanks for sharing such a great insight.

    • Social media definitely is faster, but is it more effective? I recently joined a community called Blog Engage and I will be doing a review on that soon… Stay tuned.

  • Hi Ian,
    Hope you are doing good, considering Sandy the superstorm etc. That being said, i completely agree with you-putting all the eggs in one basket is definitely not the right thing for IMs. Just like Myspace, Orkut was also “hot ” for a while. Then FB came along and today orkut is not doing so great. This is indeed an eye opener for people who are relying heavily on FB and Twitter. Thanks for this eye-opening post.

    • Hurricane Sandy actually hit north of me. I live in the southern end of the United States in Florida, Sandy hit about 1000 miles north. But thanks for your concern!

  • All the points you have mentioned in the article are 100% true. In today times where people are getting so much socialized it is a great idea to socialize your business in order to earn more and explore your business.

  • I agree with you 100% Ian…you are spot on.

    Although I do spend quite a bit of time on social media, specifically on Twitter, it’s SEO where it’s at. Everything counts basically, hence I take a holistic view to online marketing.

    Your article also brings out the fact that on social media, Twitter to be exact, it’s better for you to post your services, blog articles and input multiple times a day due to the fact that your followers have a very limited and finite time to see them. Therefore it behooves you to post multiple times, although quite a few bloggers and other online marketers advise against it.

    I’m going to post this article in fact.

    Thanks!

  • I agree that social media can be hit or miss, but I think that it is almost a necessity in this day. Sure myspace crashed hard, but lets face it myspace was all about you, facebook and twitter are all about sharing. They may crash someday, but if you ignore them now, its probably a bad idea. Really social media needs to be just another tool in your toolkit.

    • I’ve never really thought about that before… The fact that MySpace was just about you. Thanks for commenting religiously on my blog, Ashley. I appreciate it 🙂

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