Influence Data is Greater than Sharing Data
by: Heidi Perry
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Word Count: 669
As the fascination with social media and sharing content continues to grow, we are learning more about how people share across social channels. More and more interesting tidbits are coming out about the way people use different social media outlets as sharing platforms. According to Silicon Alley Insiders, five billion pieces of content were shared on Facebook every week in February 2010. That represents a substantial increase over the two million pieces of content that were shared every week in September 2009. It is clear that businesses, publishers and marketers who are not already on the social media or sharing bandwagon are behind and need to catch up in a hurry. But, what about those people who are already sharing? How do marketers and public relations professionals harness the power of these sharing platforms for their clients? Can posts to Facebook or Twitter really impact influence their clients have on customers and their brand?
Before these questions can be answered, the concept of “sharing” needs to be understood. Sharing is the core of the social web – it is both engaging and valuable. Sharing is engaging because it initiates almost every social activity, both online and offline. It helps you monitor what your family, friends, loved ones and outliers in your social circle are doing, thinking, reading and much more. Sharing is the top way we converse online. Consider how many email threads and conversations are started by spreading a funny or controversial link.
Sharing is valuable because it accounts for as much as one third of the amount of traffic driven by search. For example, if your site has 10,000 unique visitors each month from search, you can get approximately 3,300 from sharing. Some would argue those visitors who find your site because it was shared with them are more likely to be engaged than those who find it through search alone. When a site is returned as a search result, the searcher is influenced only by the order of returns on search results page. The searcher can easily click on your site, look at the home page and bounce away without engaging with your content. But, when a website is shared with an individual from a trusted influencer, then the individual will be more likely to look at multiple pages, read your content and so on. The key here is the shared link comes with the influencer’s stamp of approval.
Now that you understand why sharing is important, let’s discuss how people share information online. E-mail remains the number one method for sharing, and accounts for about 40 percent of the sharing done online. Facebook comes in a close second, with a hold on approximately 30 percent of the sharing done on the Internet. Other social channels, such as Digg and Reddit, are settling at about 13 percent. Twitter comes in last *at almost nine percent of online sharing activity.
Not all traffic and users are the same. Some channels contribute more engagement – or qualified users – and others are good for a quick one time promotion. When deciding which social channel to use, influence should be the key factor. Influence is measured by the organic value of socially relevant traffic, much in the same way as organic traffic from Google helps you understand the value of search as a channel.
Measuring influence is the next big thing for those engaged with the social web. Publishers and marketers should be able to use their widgets to find advertising target audiences. The sharing button you use should be more than just a cool widget for blogs; it should give you some indication about the best ways of measuring and tracking influence. This is an important concept for both publishers and marketers as understanding it will help them tap into the true value of their social engagement and act upon it.
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