Monday, November 17, 2008
Social media is a lotta damned work
Whenever I speak at an event about blogging and social media, I always like to point out how these tools are wonderful ways to let companies connect with their customers, when properly positioned.
But eventually, there's always a few questions about how much traffic you can drive to your blog through SM, like what about Digg? Or Facebook? How important is it to have the right keywords targeted?
Let me tell you that social sites can be a wonderful way to draw attention to your blog/site. For example, I now have about 2,300 people following me on Twitter. When I go to Twitter and link to a post I've written here, I can expect to get 50-100 referrals from linking to it on Twitter. If other Twitter users retweet it, that figure can quickly balloon to several hundred visitors for the day.
So on average, every time I go to Twitter and link to one of my blog posts, my blog gets an extra 100+ visitors. Sounds good, right?
Now for the 'rest' of the story.
It's taken me about 20 months to gain 2,300 followers. In March of this year, I had been on Twitter for a year, and had about 500 followers. So the majority of my followers didn't come till I had been active on Twitter for over a year.
In addition to 2,300 followers, I've now left over 9,700 tweets. According to TweetStats, over 75% of those tweets have been replies to other Twitter members. And according to TweetBurner, only about 10% of the sites/blog posts I link to, are my own.
So this means that the majority of the time I spend on Twitter is used talking to other members, and when I do share links on Twitter, only about 10% of them are my own.
If my main goal for using Twitter was to drive traffic to my blog, I would have quit using Twitter within a few weeks. There's just too much damned work involved if your only goal is to draw attention to yourself. And if I shifted my usage and started only promoting my blog posts, my number of followers would fall off a cliff, because that's not why people are following me.
So if you are a company that's considering joining the social media waters, please make sure you understand this:
Social media is a lotta damned work, and if you're only interested in using the space to promote yourself, you'll quit before you see the results you want.
Why do I stick with Twitter? Because I love interacting with other people there. I love sharing links with my followers. Do I love linking to my blog posts and seeing my traffic here spike? You better believe I do. But what REALLY makes my day is when I ask my followers to follow one of my friends, and that person DMs me a few minutes later to say 'Thank you SO much asking everyone to follow me, I just added 40 followers!'
THAT makes my day. And if you want to effectively use social media, it had better be what makes your day as well. It's not about you, it's about loving the ability that these tools give you to connect with other people, and to share valuable content with them. Why does Twitter work so well for ComcastCares? Because Frank already loved connecting with Comcast customers and solving their customer service problems. Twitter just gave him a new way to do that.
Why does social media work for Masi's Brand Manager Tim Jackson? Because Tim is a people person, and discovered that blogs and social media gave him a new way to connect with his customers and retailers. Which is what he was already doing, but social media gave him a more effective way to connect with others.
Social media is a lotta damned work. But if you want to use these tools as a way to connect with other people, that lotta work is worth every second.
Pic via Flickr user .hln.
UPDATE: This post was partially inspired by this one from Amber. She nails it, there are no shortcuts to successfully using social media.