Friday, April 01, 2016

Is Social Sharing More Powerful Than Web Traffic?

If you talk to people working in social media and digital marketing, you will hear about the importance of web traffic. In fact, web traffic is typically considered to be a primary indicator of the potential success of an online based company. On the surface, that theory makes sense. Web traffic is tangible and easy to track. Additionally, one can assume that if a website is getting a lot of traffic, there is a good chance that the site/business has generated interest in the market place.  However, in a recent article, Jeff Bullas pointed out that site traffic only tells part of the story.

Jeff's main point is that it's not just the traffic that your site is receiving, but the quality of that traffic. The power of the web does not come from content or traffic alone. There is a big difference between site "tourists" (who visit your site, spend no money, and never return) and site "residents" (people who return to your site often and actually engage or spend money). Additional research has shown that 83% of current CMO's believe that social sharing is the most important benefit of social marketing. Not web traffic.  

There are a lot of reasons why people share content but numerous studies show there are three primary motivators:

  • The content serves as an extension of their self-identity (it makes me look cool, relevant, smart)
  • Sharing is an act of kindness to help others
  • Sharing shows support of a person, brand or cause
The reason they feel so strongly because they know that 70% of their customers are more likely to buy something when it was shared by a friend. Sharing content indicates that you have read the material and deem it worthy of passing along to your network. Essentially that person has decided to become an advocate for that brand.

The emphasis on trust over traffic makes for a compelling argument, The bottom line is that there is a growing trend where consumers are making decisions based on recommendations from their network. I see this trend growing in my line of work as well. Currently, 89% of people thinking about switching jobs consult with a member of their network before making a decision, 

While this theory makes sense, it is not without its challenges. The chief among them being that it takes time to build trust. In my last blog post I spoke about common marketing myths. One of those myths was that success should be instant. Therefore, content marketers are going to need to ignore than myth and adopt a more long-term strategy. This can be easier said than practiced when dealing with tight budgets and high expectations. 

 So what do you think? How much more likely are you to try a product of service that was recommended by a friend? 

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