Does Social Media Matter For Web Traffic?

There are definitely some very strong opinions on this topic. After several months of tracking site traffic, we have started phase 2 of our experiment to determine if social media is still worth the effort.

Traffic Results

Wheels and a Motor Publishing has several properties we manage. The largest is 4 Wheels and a Motor and that’s the site that we used for this experiment. We did run an analysis on an e-commerce site to see if there were any marked differences with social media referrals.

Over the last 5 months, we kept very close tabs on the social media referrals the site received and whether there was a pattern to any changes in traffic. 

The result is that social media, from any source, was less than 1% of the total traffic to 4 Wheels and a Motor. Facebook made up the largest part of that 1%. A couple of hours each day spent curating social media feeds isn’t significant and for the amount of traffic received it could be better spent on content on the site itself. 

The e-commerce site on the other hand benefitted greatly from Facebook in one specific use case. Traffic spiked significantly when a special promotion was offered. If it was a regular social media interaction there was not a bump in referrals or site traffic.

What we discovered when we dug further.

For every post that we shared Facebook sent at least 2 requests to boost the post via their advertising service. When we refused less than 10% of our followers saw the post. If we did do a paid boost more people saw our post but not necessarily our followers and while it did result in Facebook views going up, it did not translate directly into web traffic. Facebook drives Facebook.

Again the e-commerce site benefited greatly from special promotions, especially discounts, and it was improved with a boosted post. Not enough to offset the cost of the ad and the organic reach of the discount posts far surpassed the paid boost.

Our next step.

At this time we have deactivated the 4WAAM Twitter account, and Facebook page. After a month or two we will see if there is a drop in traffic or not. I suspect some traffic is from social media but not from a link click on the platform. This makes it harder to discern the impact of social media. 

I can say that early results point to social media not being relevant to site traffic. Because of the time a tweet spends on a feed and how much “other” content is in the average news feed magazine-style web sites struggle to reach readers on these platforms. E-commerce sites, on the other hand, seem to be helped in getting their sales out but not their regular day to day products.

Tell us your thoughts or how your social media performs for your site.

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