Today, there are two ways to gain web site traffic. Organic, meaning people come to your site via search engines, word of mouth, or just because they like what they see and come back again. And then there is social media. Basically the 2009 version of spam. But instead of your inbox, it’s broadcast through various means over Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Digg etc…
So that got me thinking… Is it morally unethical to do that? Is spamming your friends and colleagues and other people that follow you on those services with links an okay thing to do?
I admit I’m guilty of this. Once I hit publish on this very article, it will automatically get sent to Twitter via a plugin. Then thanks to a Facebook application I have installed, it then gets published to my news feed on Facebook which is pulling posts from my Twitter stream. The only one that is manually done is Digg. Now, I used to have MySpace and FriendFeed included in said loop, but if you know me personally you know I no longer have those services. Deciding to just stick to the two most popular among the people I care about most, and the number one social news site.
One school of thought is this… You would be a fool to not take advantage of the two largest (as well as any service that reaches mass amounts of people) services, providing not only people that usually are following you for a reason and actually care about what you do. Thus the likely hood of them clicking on a link increases dramatically over a simple search query on Google. And most of all, it is FREE ADVERTISING. That ‘s right, FREE. Doesn’t cost a cent to send out to millions of people around the world to be available to see.
You can’t beat that. Free anything is good, but in the advertising world, that is king.
The other school of thought is that you are spamming your friends. The people you care about, that honestly just want to say hello and don’t care about your business but rather you as a person, and even they are deciding on a daily basis if keeping you as a friend is worth the links they constantly see pop up in their streams on these services. Most of all, even if they don’t mind the links, they tend to drown out your “REAL” posts to these services and thus limit your social capabilities, because those that care about you are now ignoring you.
Then there is organic traffic…
While the hope that every person you spam on social networks later becomes a precious member of the organic crowd. Once being spammed with you link, then visiting your site, you hope they like what they see and want to come back again and again. But that is not reality. Most clicks from social networks or the like, are in-and-out clicks. They go to the site for the headline. Usually something about your headline that caught their attention and sparked their interest.
I don’t know the exact numbers, but from experience, less than 10% stay and look around the site, less than 2% come back.
Organic traffic is a group of people, large or small, that are genuinely interested in your web site. Come to your site because they choose to, no matter what your latest and hottest articles or posts are. People that come back because you have given then something they are interested in and want to see what’s next.
Now, I know you’ll say that some people that visit your site via the social media advertising later become organic traffic. And I’ll be the very first to admit that not I, nor anyone else is going to stop doing it. After all it is completely free advertising and makes a very competitive marketing approach to the old school marketing machines. But is it ethical?
Today I’m going to set up a Twitter account that will completely just for my network. The PureStyle Network will have its own, where all links will be forwarded. Quite honestly, with as many sites as I run, multiple twitter accounts is becoming a pain to manage and maintain and keep in touch with fans and friends alike. So I will have one account for yours truly, and one for the network.
I find that while it is unethical and morally not so correct, there just isn’t a better method to reach so many people at a cost effective way such as social media. Post a headline and an article to digg.com and there is a chance the traffic could flood your site to the point of crashing. And it cost you nothing but a few minutes and a couple clicks. A well written headline and your traffic can boom. But will it sustain? That is the question of worth.
In the end, provide quality content (like PureStyle Magazine, shameless plug), and you will get the traffic now or later regardless. But there is no doubt that social media is both effective and cost efficient. Just hope your friends don’t hate you for it or delete you.