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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.
15th September 2014 Graham Jones
Being humble maintains distant connections
These days, many of your business contacts are long-distance. Even if they are actually not that far away, a great deal of your communication is effectively long-distance because much of it is mediated through the Internet. Goodness, we have all probably seen people email the person sitting next to them, rather than actually talk…!
The problem with long-distance relationships of any kind is that they are easier to break up than when you are really physically close to someone.
Interesting new research, admittedly looking at romantic relationships, gives us a clue as to how we need to behave online if we want to maintain those long-distance connections with business colleagues, customers, associates and so on.
The study found that relationships were much more likely to be maintained when the partners were humble. This was especially the case in long-distance relationships.
What the research means is that online we need to be less arrogant, less full of ourselves and less wanting to be right all the time. You see a great deal of that kind of behaviour on social networks and what it seems to do is drive people away, rather than attract them.
Being humble also means accepting that you might be wrong, that the other person may be superior to you or know more than you and that they might be better than you.
In short, it is about treating other people in the way we would like to be treated. It comes back to the same old argument – see things much more from the other person’s perspective and your relationship will be maintained.
10th September 2014 Graham Jones
Networking with other people makes us feel “dirty”
In spite of the billions of users of social networking sites almost all of those account holders are bystanders. Most people on social networks are “lurkers” – people who lurk in the shadows and watch what other people are doing but without taking part in it themselves. The bulk of social networking is actually done by a relatively small number of people.
Given the vast amount of articles, blog posts and videos online all demonstrating the significant benefits of networking you would expect the number of people taking an active part to be much higher than it actually is. Almost all Tweeting, for instance, is done by just 5% of the people on Twitter.
So why do people sign up, but then give up?
The answer could be found by considering what you might call “real world” networking. You know the kind of thing, business events where you turn up to meet like-minded people and get to know potential clients, suppliers or introducers. Most businesses do not go to such events. Furthermore most of the people there are also “lurkers”; they turn up, grab a coffee and a sandwich, be polite to people and leave having listened to a speaker or watched a demonstration of something. Most people who go to real world business networking events don’t actually “network” either.
Whether you look at online social networks or real world social networks the same behaviour is being repeated. People tend to lurk and not take an active part.
There is only a relatively small amount of psychological research on networking, but a recent study shows why this lack of networking is happening. It turns out that networking with other people makes us “feel dirty”. For some reason we don’t yet understand, social networking in the real world is perceived somewhat negatively by many people because it makes them feel impure in some way. That might also explain the extent of lurking in online social networks.
The research also showed that the people who don’t have feelings of being dirty are the ones in most power, usually the ones who don’t need to network in the first place.
But an intriguing part of this study was in finding what made people feel OK about networking.
It transpired that the people who do not have these physical or moral objections to networking were the ones who went to business events and gave something. In other words, you do not feel dirty and take a more active part in social networking when you give, rather than when you take. It is the going to networking events and seeing them as something which you take from that triggers the feelings of physical dirtiness, it seems.
So what does that mean for online social networking?
It suggests that the more you share, the more you provide information, the more you give other people, the better it will be for you. Social networking is not about taking, It is about giving.