Twitter produces a huge flurry of activities yet is strangely isolated from the rest of the internet.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how social media has changed blogging. Essentially blogs no longer gets views primarily because of links from other blogs. Instead traffic now comes in large part through views on social media.
Every good media organization knows that the road to traffic leads through Facebook rather than Twitter. Even so, I thought the sharing economy of the Internet shared a bit more than this.
A tweet with 10,000 interactions is an exception, and I was interested in the rule. So I went to Twitter’s user analytics page to download the data on my 100 most popular tweets of the last year. If I could prove to my bosses (and to myself) that Twitter could, even occasionally, deliver meaningful audiences, it might validate my infatuation. Alas, my most popular tweets averaged a click-through rate of about 1.7 percent, still quite near the rate of conversions on flash-media East Asian display ads. Without revealing numbers that will get me in trouble with my bosses, I concluded that my prodigious use of Twitter in the last 30 days has cumulatively driven less traffic to TheAtlantic.com than one of my below-average stories.
It’s fair to come away from these metrics thinking that Twitter is worthless. But that’s an unsophisticated conclusion. The more sophisticated takeaway is that Twitter is worthless for the limited purpose of driving traffic to your website, because Twitter is not a portal for outbound links, but rather a homepage for self-contained pictures and observations. (The irony is that the more journalists consider Twitter a portal, the better Twitter becomes as a home for other people to stay, including other journalists.)
With this in mind I went and looked at the stats page for this blog. A grand total of 0.43% of all its views were referred by twitter. I get a relatively larger amount from Facebook. However, much to surprise, it transpires that the biggest source of views here are not social media at all but search engines. A fact I have no idea what to make of.