On April Fool's Day, I was reminded about the power and magic of social networking. Of course, there has been a lot of discussion over the last few years about “Web 2.0.” Now a media buzzword, “Web 2.0” is usually taken to mean anything that promotes social networking and collaboration. This can include social networking sites, wikis and, of course, blogs. Even in the brick and mortar business world, companies are starting to wake up to the marketing power of Web 2.0. The question that these companies are asking is “how can we use Web 2.0 to gain mind share and drive traffic?”

In the cyber world, using social networking sites like Twitter, Digg and StumbleUpon to drive traffic is old news. However, yesterday I was reminded just how powerful this can be. About 11:30 PM, I got an IM from Garry Conn calling my attention to the new “time shifting feature” that Google had just added to GMail. He suggested that I do a quick blog post on it. I did that post, and the story up and stumbled only a few minutes before midnight (literally minutes after Google turned on their prank).

The Impact of April Fool's Day on My Stats

And then, the traffic started coming. Being a new blog, my traffic typically looks like this:

MasonWorld stats for March

Now, I have been pretty happy with this. For the month of March, I was enjoying upwards of 30 uniques per day, with 2 pages per visit. Then the April Fools post was stumbled, dugg, sphunn, tweeted, etc, and this happened:

MasonWorld Stats March 1 - April 1

The y-axis on the plot has changed from 100 visits maximum to 6000 visits maximum. On April 1, in the 24 hours just after the post, I had 5302 new visitors (220 per hour). This represents a jump from 30 uniques per day in March to 5300 — a 176-fold increase! This is really cool for a new blogger. Any time you can hit a button and get traffic like that, it makes you feel great (even if you get there with help and luck). Of course, it is not repeatable. This post (for example) probably will not enjoy 5300 views. LOL.

Where Did the Traffic Come From?

As I mentioned before, the post was stumbled, dugg (and shouted), sphunn, and tweeted. But where did all the traffic come from? It came from StumbleUpon (82%). Notably, almost %10 of the traffic was direct (people typing the main page into the browser — suggests the the valuable of having a name that is easy to remember). Also notable is the 5% traffic from Google. Suggests that MasonWorld may not be in Google's sandbox since I was able to rank so quickly.

MasonWorld traffic sources on April 1

Is Social Media Traffic Valuable?

One of the things that you constantly hear about StumbleUpon (SU) is that the traffic that it generated is not valuable. Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to tell what specific clicks came from SU traffic, what came from Digg, etc. Also, while I can track all affiliate link clicks on my blog, but I cannot easily tell which clicks are on the 125×125 adds and which are on text links inside blog posts.

I run 4 adds on my blog sidebar. Prior to April 1, I was enjoying an average of 22 affiliate link or ad clicks per day. Based on an average number of page views for March of 78 page views per day, my normal click through rate (CTR) is 22/78 — a monster CTR = 28%. By contrast, I had 176 clicks on April 1 against 6148 page views for a more reasonable (low) CTR of 2.86%. Note that the 28% CTR is not a strictly fair comparison since many of those clicks come from people who reached my blog searching for the affiliate product. So that is the point. People that come from SU are not generally looking to buy.

I did a similar analysis on my feed statistics. On March 1, I had about 20 subscribers. On March 30, I had 44 (I doubled my subscribers in March!). I had about 1100 unique visits in March. This means that the conversion rate from uniques to RSS subscriptions was about 2%. For every 100 unique visitors in March, 2% of them signed up for the RSS feed. On April 1, as you can see below, my subscriptions increased to 65. This means that 21 of the 5300 unique visitors on April 1 signed up (a conversion rate of 0.4 percent). Significantly lower than the baseline conversion rate, but I am thrilled to have them.

MasonWorld RSS Stats

The Bottom Line

Well, I literally and figuratively stumbled into this traffic and this post. Welcome to the new RSS subscribers. I would be interested to hear comments from RSS subscribers that signed up yesterday about how they arrived at the site, and why they signed up. So, my conclusion is the SU and other Social Media Traffic is not “worthless” as some have suggested. It is wholesale traffic, and it is different than other kinds of traffic, but it is not worthless.

Thanks,
Mark

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