*** This is a guest post by Brent Jones. ***
Gosh, it seems like just yesterday that I contributed my first guest post to Build Your Own Blog.
But in fact, it was almost 15 months ago. And in that guest post, I explained why — at the time — I felt that Google+ was better than Facebook for my blog.
And from strictly a traffic and share count perspective, that sentiment was certainly true back then.
In fact, I provided numerous screenshots in that post illustrating that Google+ definitely drove more traffic to my blog than any other social platform.
But times change, and blogs do, too…
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
…because if you fast forward to present day, Google+ is no longer my top source of social traffic. It isn’t even in the top two.
Take a look at January 2016…
…and March 2016.
So far, every month in 2016, Facebook has been my top social traffic source. In fact, I get more Facebook traffic to my blog than every other social source combined… multiple times over!
Things change — true story.
But what isn’t a true story is that Darwin quote above… fun fact? Darwin never actually said that. But this quote is erroneously attributed to him all over the web, so I just decided to go along with it…
…for two reasons.
First, I think the quote speaks to successful blogging as a whole. Times and digital trends change rapidly — and if we refuse to adapt to them, we’ll get left behind.
But second, and perhaps more importantly, I want to illustrate that there is a lot of misinformation freely available on the internet.
See, the purpose of this post isn’t to try to tell you that Facebook is the be-all, end-all of social traffic. Far from it.
And that’s because no two blogs or audiences are the same. There are no magic solutions. And one-size-fits-all approaches to marketing seldom generate positive results.
The real purpose of this post is to get you thinking about your own numbers.
I want to get you thinking about the importance of knowing and understanding your own traffic numbers, as well as the importance of investing your time where it gets the best return.
Because let’s face it… each of us gets just 168 hours a week. It’s what you do with that time that will ultimately determine the success of your blog.
Social Strategy Tip: Know Your Traffic Numbers
And she’s probably right.
We’re both work-at-home freelancers. Her office is upstairs while mine is on the main level.
Sometimes, she’ll come downstairs without making a sound and catch me staring at my Real-Time Overview in Google Analytics. Just staring at it… processing… watching the active users on site number go up and down.
I love numbers.
Numbers comfort me.
They’re a universal language… a language incapable of lies.
In other words, my wife is right… I am nuts.
But consider this.
In January 2015, when I published my first post on Build Your Own Blog, my own blog was less than four months old.
–I hadn’t yet been successful in defining a niche or a target audience for myself.
–I had published precious few guest posts and had been invited to contribute to very few expert roundups.
–I had yet to participate in my first webinar or Blab… actually, come to think of it, I don’t think Blab was even a thing at the time…
–I had no strategy in place for things like blog commenting or outreach.
–I wouldn’t even launch my video interview series for another four months — on which Matthew Loomis would be my first guest.
That isn’t to say I was doing everything wrong at the time — just that I hadn’t really found my groove as a blogger.
It would be fair to say that my online reach and influence were minimal to non-existent at best.
Accordingly, it made a lot of things about Google+ very appealing to me:
–The communities were well-organized and easier to find and join than similar groups on Facebook were.
–I could interact with and follow anyone freely without first having to send a friend request.
–Heck, Google+ even tracked the number of times my content had been viewed right on my profile page, which was very encouraging to me as a new blogger.
I instantly had some success with Google+ and — erroneously — concluded that Google+ was better than Facebook in every way imaginable.
But time passed, my blog evolved, and a lot changed in just one year.
For example, in March 2015, I had my best traffic month up until that point. I got just over 3,000 visits that month.
Surpassing 3,000 visits in a month seemed monumental at the time!
But fast forward 12 months to March 2016, and my monthly traffic situation looks a bit different, doesn’t it?
And I’m projecting 18,000 to 19,000 visits this April.
The bottom line?
It would be unrealistic of any blogger to expect to employ the same strategies when getting 3,000 visits per month versus 16,000 visits per month.
Blogs and audiences change.
But knowing where to invest your time — specifically, on what social platforms — starts first with understanding your own numbers and what they mean.
As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.
Social Strategy Tip: Decide Where to Invest Your Time
In a perfect world, every blogger would have a massive reach on every social media platform.
We’d all be Snapchat superstars, top Twitter gurus, and Instagram celebrities.
But, we don’t have unlimited hours in a week.
Many of us have a day job.
Some of us offer coaching or consulting services and simply use our blogs as inbound marketing tools.
For me, I am a freelance social media manager, and my blog serves as a side project for me, focused on helping new freelancers to build their own online, service-based businesses.
It goes without saying that we can’t be all things to all people, nor can we be active on every social platform at every moment of the day.
It comes down to prioritizing where we get the best return on our time.
For me, in light of my Facebook traffic growth, I have stepped up my Facebook strategy for 2016 — it’s where I am getting my best results, so it’s where I’ll continue to focus my efforts.
But perhaps it isn’t Facebook for you. Perhaps your target audience hangs out on Pinterest, and perhaps Pinterest is your best source of blog traffic… then it makes the most sense to focus the majority of your time and energy on Pinterest.
The key takeaway I want you to get from this post — and from me sharing my numbers — is that there isn’t one single social sharing strategy that will catapult your blog into an autopilot money-making machine.
Most of it comes to down to testing and tweaking what works best for you.
1. Try something.
2. Measure the results.
4. Try again.
5. Repeat steps 2-4 until you are happy with the results.
6. Scale your efforts — or give up and try something new.
But as you are trying, tweaking, and measuring, please remember to…
Social Strategy Tip: Always Look at the Bigger Picture
Lastly, I want to throw you a bit of a curve ball… some food for thought, if you will.
You might be thinking — given that Facebook is now my best source of social traffic — that I’m about to give up on Google+.
Let me show you why with social conversion numbers from Q1 2016, so encompassing January, February and March:
During that period, visitors to my blog from Google+ subscribed to my mailing list at more than twice the rate of visitors from any other social platform.
In fact, I got less than half as many visitors from Google+ as I did from Twitter, yet I acquired an equal number of new email subscribers from both platforms.
This is why I want to leave you with the reminder to always look at the bigger picture.
They comfort me, yes.
And numbers never lie.
But numbers also don’t tell a complete story.
At least not without comparing them to other numbers.
At the end of the day, traffic — whether that’s social, organic, or referral traffic — is really nothing more than a series of numbers on our computer screens.
So before deciding which social platform is best for your blog, you need really understand what end goal you’re working to accomplish.
–Is it blog comments or social shares?
–Is it mailing list subscribers?
–Is it contact form inquiries?
–Is it affiliate link clicks?
–Is it product sales?
And I can’t answer that for you.
You’ll have to dig through your own data, draw your own conclusions, and invest your time accordingly.
The importance of knowing and understanding your own traffic numbers,
the importance of investing your time where it gets the best return,
and to always look at the bigger picture!
And if you have questions or thoughts, I would be happy to connect with you in the comments below. Drop me a line, and I’ll be sure to reply to you personally.
Brent Jones is a freelancer and blogger living in Fort Erie, Canada with his beautiful wife and two dogs. Since 2014, he has earned his full-time living by freelancing online and he can teach you to do the same on Brent Jones Online. Be sure to connect with Brent on Twitter and Facebook.