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Less traffic comes from multiple social networks – Facebook now dominates
A year ago people shared things online in several places – indeed they still do. You could share this article on Twitter for instance, or LinkedIn, or Facebook. Some people will share this article in all three places. However research on 200,000 websites with significant visitor traffic shows that over the past 12 months the amount of traffic coming from shared content on the vast majority of social networks has fallen.
The amount of traffic from shared content on Facebook has more than doubled in the past year. Yet on almost every other one of the main social networks, the amount of traffic has fallen. Pinterest stands out because it is now the second most common place for social traffic – dwarfing even Twitter. The only other social network to have seen an increase is Google+ which has almost doubled the amount of traffic from its network. The problem is, very little traffic came from Google+ in the first place, so it is a doubling of very little, which is still tiny. Indeed, the amount of traffic from Google+ is 320 times less than the amount from Facebook.
This study is fascinating as it shows that online social referral traffic is becoming polarised. People are clearly seeing Facebook as THE place to share things, resulting in all those additional visits to linked websites. Twitter is fast becoming an “also-ran” in the social traffic stakes.
What does this mean for your business? It suggests that if you want your business to get traffic from social sites you have got to make your content interesting to people who use Facebook.
And what do they find interesting? They want funny stuff, entertaining material or content that has high emotion. It means that what you might call “ordinary” business content is not going to get shared on Facebook and so your social traffic is going to be tiny. If people are seeing Facebook as the place to share, that is only going to benefit businesses if they make their content “Facebook friendly”.
Note too, that the dramatic rise in Pinterest traffic means that unless your website has great imagery which can be shared, that outlet is also not open to you.
In short, this new research means that if you want to benefit from online social media traffic you need to write material that is different, emotionally engaging and light – not boring old stuffy dry business material. And when you have got your copy right it needs illustrating with images people want to share.
In other words, this new research doesn’t tell us much new. Your website will only get social media traffic if you have great copy and excellent images.
21st August 2014 External Contributor
30th June 2014 Graham Jones
Facebook has published a study which Internet Psychologist Graham Jones believes was potentially unethical.
The research involved deliberately altering the emotional content of the timelines of almost 700,000 users of Facebook without their knowledge that this was being done. The research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The participants in the study did not know that their timelines were being manipulated to alter its emotional content value.
According to Graham Jones this is borderline unethical. He said: “All research should get the informed consent of participants in advance of the study being undertaken. Whilst there are some exceptions to this, such as the results being significantly altered if people knew about the study in advance, it is considered good ethical practice to find ways around such limitations and allow participants to know about the research before being asked to take part.”
He added: “Even if you cannot inform people in advance, you should let them know once the study is completed so that they can decide whether data about them is included in the analysis. Some people may want such data destroyed and not used and they should be given this opportunity if you have not been able to get their prior informed consent to take part.”
Graham Jones also said: “The researchers appear to have treated this as data about words, rather than taking into account the psychological impact of what they were doing. The manipulation of timelines to provide either a more positive or more negative emotional experience for the users could well have had an impact upon them.”
There is some evidence of a link between social media use and low mood in some studies, said Graham Jones, which means that anyone manipulating social media timeliness needs to be especially careful.
“I do not think enough care and attention to the participants in this study was given,” said Graham Jones.
2nd June 2014 Graham Jones
One of the benefits of social media is that you can use peer pressure to help change the minds of your potential customers. You can see this happening all the time, where individuals on Facebook or Twitter, for instance, recommend a product or service having made a purchase. The idea behind this is two-fold. Firstly, it increases awareness using word-of-mouth. But secondly, it also has a psychological effect whereby people are subtly influenced by peer pressure to consider the product or service, even if they have previously dismissed it.
The power of social influence to change minds is well-established. However, new research reveals an interesting twist to social influence: it does not last. The study from China, where the psychological power of social groups is significant, shows that peer pressure only lasts for a maximum of three days. It turns out that our opinion reverts back to our original thinking within 72 hours of apparently having changed our minds.
This is an important finding as it shows that our established thinking is long-lasting. We are not as open to change and social influence as we might think.
For businesses this is a significant finding. It means that you cannot rely on single instances of peer pressure and recommendations. Instead of asking your customers to recommend you once after a purchase they need to be recommending you every three days if their influence is to last.
This research ties in with other studies which show that the power of social media is related to the amount of work you do on it. That implies that if you want your business to benefit from social media and the resulting social influence it can have, then you need to be using it constantly. It is not a “once a week” thing or something you can do when you feel like it. If social networking is to have the influence you want, then you need to be constantly using the power of peer pressure it provides so that the three-day-effect does not happen.
The people you are targeting are going to return to their old ways of thinking about you unless you use peer pressure at least once in every 72 hours.