An interesting question was posed at a corporate event I was involved in earlier this week. I wasn’t the person asked the question, but it intrigued me enough that I gave it some thought and wanted to share. While talking about a relatively conservative company launching more holistically into a digital marketing strategy that included social channel activation, an employee of the company asked, “Don’t these social channels cannibalize traffic to our website?”
It’s a natural question and, frankly, makes a lot of sense to ask. Why would we route and send people to Facebook or LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube if we could send them to our website? So here are some thoughts if I were to answer the question:
There’s a good chance your website is a static brochure for your product or service. It serves a valuable purpose for people who are investigating or looking for more information about what you offer. But that doesn’t describe every audience member you have. In fact, most people aren’t looking for more information about what you have to offer. Your job is to find the ones that are and direct them to your website where they can make that purchase decision.
Where do you find those people? According to some pretty reliable research about consumer behavior on social media, on social networks.
Your website is a destination place — preferably a series of destination pages built for each type of customer or product/service you have — for you to route people when they’re ready. Social media sites are where you enjoy being part of your audience’s experiences in the meantime. And where you seek those who might need you, or your site.
Yes, you can incorporate social media functionality and activations on your website. I’m a staunch believer in corporate blogs because they drive search engine results and traffic. You can serve current customers well there with awesome live chat software. You can even have a forum or community element that helps customers or prospects engage with you or fellow audience members and build a bit of community on your site. But unless you’re business is primarily focused on building said community (i.e. you’re a social network), most people are going to spend time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like because that’s where their friends are.
It’s not a matter of cannibalization of your website traffic. Social media is about finding the people who are the most appropriate audience members to visit your website and inviting or funneling them there when they need it. That may be through your connectivity with those audience members on social channels. It may be through search engine results your blog has earned that help people who don’t know you find solutions to their problems. Either way, social media makes your website traffic more relevant which probably also makes it more efficient.
Your turn. How would you answer that question? Does your social channel activity and focal point cannibalize your website traffic? What is the role of a website in the social era? The comments are yours.
Note: Links go to the Social Habit and Velaro — one a project I’m involved with, the other a client. Just disclosing. Oh, and I made the picture on my iPhone with MadeWithOver.