Monetizing Social Media Traffic

Dec 4, 2007 - 5:26 pm 2 by
Filed Under PubCon 2007

I have very sporadic Internet. I am sorry this is late. I'll do the best I can. :)

Monetizing Social Media Traffic Location: Salon A

Social media traffic is decidedly different from search traffic, newsletter traffic, or general link traffic. Knowing how to capitalize on this potentially huge traffic influx is critical for social media players. This session will look at ways that social media outlets can be monetized.

Moderator: Rand Fishkin Speakers: Vanessa Fox, Features Editor, Search Engine Land, Entrepreneur in Residence, Ignition Partners, Michael Gray, President, Atlas Web Service Alexander Barbara, CEO, ReidBrown Enterprises, Inc. Laura Fitton, Principal, Pistachio Consulting

Rand introduces the session and says that it is necessary at times to monetize our social media efforts.

Up first is Vanessa Fox who owes me an email address. I will never let you live it down, Vanessa.

Generally speaking, page views don't mean that much unless you're setting up a CPM ad model. In Social Media, you worry a lot about pageviews but many people leave. Don't lose sight of the other things that you can be doing.

She shows her analytics (September 6, 2007) where she sees a surge in traffic. But these people all abandoned the site. September 6, 2007 was the day that Vanessa Hudgens had nude results on the internet. Vanessa Fox ranked #1 for "vanessa nude" and people didn't visit the site to see poor ol' Vanessa fox. On that day, visitors spent 2 seconds on the site, and the abandon rate was 96%. (She said she should have monetized it somehow but now regrets that she hasn't.)

If you have viral piece of material, you need to have backup material that keeps people there. Make sure that the viral piee of content is interesting to the types of users that you're trying to attract to the users to the site. You want people who are going to stay, go to other pages of your site, and convert. Make it really easy for the visitors to see what you have to offer: turn your visitors into customers.

Think about what your goals are: social media visitors don't convert as highly as search visitors. Search visitors are actively seeking out that content. Example: Flixter - when you register, you see quiz material, a brief FAQ, and some viral information (reviews, most wanted info, etc.)

Provide ways to navigate the site. Zillow had a CPM network. They had a piece of "Famous Unique Homes" - the navigation bar, however, didn't have much information. Use that space to keep people hooked in.

Michael Gray is up next.

Social media for sales and conversion: understand the space. It's an advanced tactic. Sales should only be part of the vision, not the entire vision.

What types of products work? - Products (physical and virtual) - Consumer goods (almost always better than B2B) - Impulse purchases - Low or "door buster" prices. People are always sensitive to prices. Technology related items generally do better.

Example: thisnext - They had a gift guide for a spa. If you click on items, you could get more information and they had affiliate links to make sales.

Example: techiediva - What people were buying as gifts for the holidays. You can see how to get a particular look for less with a direct link.

Pitfalls: watch out! - Be clear about your offer, especially restrictions and quantities. - Anticipate the demand and have the right number of stock. - The worst thing you can do is fail to deliver your product. Microsoft had a free USB key last year and hundreds of thousands of people signed up - many were pissed when they didn't get it. - Monitor what people are saying about you and do damage control.

Manage expectations for long terms of success: - Decide if a hybrid or dedicated delivery channel is optimal. Decide what is right for your audience. - Let people get the content every way they want: email, RSS, SMS, whatever. - Use trends and current events in terms of offerings.

Alternative Content: Video - Will it blend? iPhone - eBook - a guy used a sexy woman and sold many books - - 15-minute boot camp workout: if you can see people losing the weight, you'd be more compelled to buy. Alternative content: podcasts - Drop links in your podcasts. - Ricky's Picks (Disney podcast) Alternative content: Twitter - CarnivalCruise - JetBlue - SouthwestAir Next up is Alexander Barbara. He marketed a site and put it on Digg. It's not a typical type of site that goes on Digg. It's a health and wellness blog written by a female blogger and doesn't always fare well on Digg.

Some stats: - Submitted one at Wednesday at 3PM - Took 38 Diggs to hit the homepage - 7:30PM - 825 - 13,876 visits on Day #1, 28,661 in 5 days - Submitted one at Monday at 11AM - took 57 Diggs to hit the homepage - 6:30PM - 750 - 12,316 on Day #1, 19,461 in 5 days

Can your site handle the traffic? If you have a new site, you get a few dozen sites a day. You have to realize that you're getting a few dozen hits per second with the Digg effect. Be careful as some webhosts may interpret this as a DDOS attack and shut your site down.

If you don't know if your site can handle it, redirect some traffic to a few other sources. Use mod_rewrite or a temporary 302 redirect to a static page. You can also use the Google Cache (make the site live a week before and then use a 302 redirect) or Coral Cache.

What about the quality of the traffic? He shows a CTR of the number of ads - it was 14x higher on day 5 than day 1. It proves that Digg users are banner blind (yes, we are). Pull the ads off of your page when you submit to Digg and restore them a few days later.

The RSS subscriber numbers also went up pretty well. People subscribe during the Digg effect but then they unsubscribe. It's a unique behavior that's typical of Digg folk and we've seen this on many blog examples.

Monetizing the traffic: - Monetize directly: targeted offers, AdSense, CPM based model - Monetize indirectly: subscribers, links, branding What we learned: - Understand your audience: target your content that appeals to your site visitors and the Digg audience. That's why lists work rather well. - Choose wisely. How do you want to monetize that traffic? - Be prepared for the traffic. Last up is Laura Fitton who I met via Twitter. She's a Pistachio.

Basically, she gives her history. Before she was Pistachio, she was a homebound mother of two kids under the age of 2. In March, she started blogging and connected via social networks and it helped her becasue now people are coming to her for consulting gigs.

This is how she built her brand and her company by using social media.

- Ads are ailing. A lot of people make money by helping people sell. But now it's better to make more money to help people buy. - What you hear is a lot more important. Markets are conversations. Conversations suck if you don't listen. But what if they're out there saying that "my company sucks!"? If they're saying something like "Dell sucks," then Dell needs to know and Dell needs to fix it. Set up Google Alerts to learn what people are saying and engage them.

What is social media and how can it turn into value? We know it drives traffic. Some people might be around to see, but if you get engaged on a social network, you bring a lot more people who are interested in buying. She has a Twitter account with 800 followers over 2 months. (Meanwhile, I have had my account since December '06 and I have a little over 300 followers.)

SOcial media makes money? What I see is that social media builds value. You want to build lasting value. SOcial media builds business. What value does your business bring to the world and how can you enhance it in social media? Even if you're on a CPM model, you want people to be engaged and tell you what they want: that will make you serve them better. You're not trying to trick them or sell them.

"You've already won me over." ~ Alanis Morrissette

If you get a quick surge and it pays quick bucks, it's great, but then it's over. But you need to teach a man to fish and build something of lasting value.

Social media is all about knowledge. How do you know what you know? What are your sources? Are they credible? Knowledge is socially mediated. Markets are socially mediated.

Tricks, tips, and shortcuts? No, there are none. Here's why: gaming won't pay. In social media, your customers write the rules. You can win the battle and lose the war.

Facebook Beacon: the poster child of social media completely screwed people over. The Beacon is a warning. They had a system that told your friends what you just bought. They alienated privacy groups and pissed off mainstream media, bloggers, pundits, Charlene Li from Forrester (when her coffee table showed up on Facebook), and their channel partners. It's really important that you should be careful that you're not violating your own Terms of Service. (Overstock, for example, had violated their terms by showing these bought items on Facebook, and now they're going to get sued.)

How do you do it right? Focus on what really matters and what really lasts. Focus on listening. Figure out ways to make yourself useful. Help others. It has worked for Laura (and has worked for Dell, too; Forrester has the data, she says).

Obviously, you want to connect because your conversions will go through the roof.

Why didn't Perl die? When people wake up every morning and they love something and they love each other in the context of something, they're going to keep building it. The passion of one man for the project will not go away. Digg traffic might go away, but building actual communities and relationships around what your value is is going to last.

Seize control. If you're worried that your CEO shouldn't blog, bear in mind that other people already think you suck - rectify that perception. Get out there, try, fail, fix it, try again. Walmart did the same thing with their American Camping blog - they admitted that they messed up and blogged instead. Go out there, don't be afraid to fail.

Resources; - Cluetrain manifesto - Naked conversations - Tipping point and Made to Stick - Marketing to the social Web - Geoff Livingston's book, Now is Gone - Another book (I'll try to list it later).


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