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Is Social Media Really Driving Traffic To Your Site?

Bill Hartzer Posted by

There is a new report from ForeSee Results that details research that they performed showing that social media is responsible for only three percent of web site visits to retail web sites. Certainly if this is the case, and social media web sites like Twitter and Facebook are only bringing 3 percent overall traffic to a web site, then clearly web sites owners need to take a look again at their overall ROI from there web site’s referring traffic.

social media cost

Apparently, according to a report that I wrote about recently, social media spending is going up. But is this really a good decision?

Here is what ForeSee Results is reporting in their report about social media:

Familiarity with the site, company or brand is the most common influencer of a website visit (46% of site visitors).This highly influential group of visitors are also the most satisfied (75 on a 100-point scale), most likely to purchase (75) and most likely to recommend (76).

- The least satisfied customers (64) are those who have visited a retailer’s site after receiving a message directly from the company on a social network.

- In terms of how respondents wanted to hear from retailers, nearly one-fifth said that they didn’t want to hear from retailers at all; the other 80 percent had definite opinions on what channel they liked best:

- The most preferred method for communication was promotional emails with 62 percent

- Social media scored just two percent of the vote

- In last place was radio outreach and mobile communications with one percent each.\

- Of the two percent who preferred communicating through social media, 33 percent said Facebook was the first-choice platform.

So, is it time that web site owners and companies take a long, hard look at their investment in Social Media? Perhaps. I would like to see companies make a more concerted effort to enhance their back-end reporting and looking at web analytics more. I don’t think companies are making enough decisions based on their web analytics. It might be better to put more time into building content on your web site rather than putting all of that content on a social media web site like Facebook: over the years, we have seen social media web sites (even MySpace) come and go. A better long-term strategy is to invest in your own web site’s content.

Here is what Foresee Results has to say about social media investment. In their report that you can download here, they ask the question and then answer it:

Recently I heard the following question posed at a trade show: if you had to choose (with the proverbial gun to your head), would you put money into a Facebook e-commerce site or a traditional e-commerce site?

It’s a bit of a false dichotomy; most of us can do both. Anyway, the answer depends on a lot of factors, including product line, company size, existing Facebook presence and more. Still the question is getting at something we’re all dealing with. Despite the exponential, widespread, and breathlessly documented rise in social media activity and usage, many of us don’t have a great way to quantify the value of social media marketing to bottom-line business results.

I personally have a feeling that social media is responsible for a lot more than just 3 percent of web site traffic. Social media web sites like Twitter and Facebook are, in fact, more responsible for more web site traffic: it’s just not being recorded and is not trackable: so we assume that since this traffic does not show as referring traffic (it shows as a direct type-in type of traffic in a web site’s web analytics), then we are not getting traffic from social media. In many cases, I believe that there may be an interaction by a potential customer–or a repeat customer, and that referral traffic from social media is not being recorded–because of the visit might view the company’s Facebook page and then go directly to the company’s web site by typing the domain name in or even by clicking on a bookmark or by searching for the company’s name in their favorite search engine, such as Google.


About the Author: Bill Hartzer currently is the President of, a Strategic Online Marketing Consultancy that includes services such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, and online reputation management. Bill Hartzer formerly managed the Search Engine Marketing division of Vizion Interactive and MarketNet, leading interactive marketing and website design firms in the Dallas, Texas area.

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