Whatever its source, no traffic is useless. However, neither is all traffic the same, and you can find great differences when you start to analyze its source. So let’s take a close look at traffic generated by social bookmarking as it applies to Internet marketers.

social marketing

Unless you’ve been denied Internet access for the past few years, you’ve noticed that social bookmarking websites have become a big thing online. Slashdot, Digg, and Stumbleupon have been all the rage for some time.

Such sites are driven by users who choose what they want to bookmark, and such human viewing and discussing of bookmarked content can lead to a lot of  traffic for those sites that are so bookmarked.

Is all this traffic and hype worth your time, however, and more importantly, will you be able to get some of it for yourself? What are the pros and cons of social bookmarking traffic?

It’s true that a listing on the front page of one of the top social bookmarking sites can lead to hundreds or even thousands of visitors to your site. While such hopes may be enticing, it is important to keep the proper perspective on things.

Drawbacks

Of course, the quality of your site and whether it is attractive and contains well-written and informative content will matter, but it’s well to keep in mind that the majority of social bookmarking traffic will:

- Result in a single page view rather than an exploration of the inner reaches of your site

- Not stay on your site very long

- Not result in a large number of sign-ups for your newsletter or other offer.

Although you may get a few subscribers to your newsletter or e-zine, the number in most cases will not be phenomenal.

A bigger problem is that traffic from such sites will be temporary, lasting only a few days at most until your bookmark or listing drops off the front page.

In other words, traffic from social bookmarking will behave differently than that from search engines or from your own newsletter. Traffic from social media can be likened to cars passing through the drive-through of a fast food restaurant. They don’t stay long before moving on to the next stop.

The reason for this is that visitors from search engines are interested in a particular subject, and this is why they are drawn to a particular website or blog as the result of a web search. Likewise, newsletter traffic has already been exposed to similar content and is interested in more. In other words, visitors arrive at your website because you have what they are looking for. So traffic from organic searches is certainly stickier than that from social bookmarking.

Advantages

However, social media or bookmark sites do have some things going for them. Although the traffic may not be of as high a quality as that achieved from other methods, it can sometimes make up for it in quantity. In addition, it can certainly help to get your website’s name out there, helping you with your branding and creating a bit of a buzz. This is especially true if your site appeals more to the mass market than a specialized audience.

Another bonus is that you will gain a link on a high PR 7 or PR 8 website, which certainly can’t hurt your site rankings. If your site should be featured on a mainstream site such as Digg, links to it can appear on a good number of secondary websites as well — perhaps as many as 1000. If those visitors are using the Firefox browser with the Alexa toolbar (and as many as 50% may be) your Alexa ranking will also rise accordingly.

Not all social bookmarking sites are created equal, however. Traffic arrived at through StumbleUpon may stay longer and behave more like organic traffic than that from the other social bookmarking sites. This may be because StumbleUpon is a high quality site and may bring a higher quality of traffic.

If you wish to submit your site updates to the social bookmarking sites, software is available that makes it much easier. OnlyWire is a combination of a website and software that runs on both Mac and PC that can submit your site to the top social bookmarking websites with a single click. OnlyWire offers both free and paid options, and you can get a lot of credits if you add the OnlyWire plug into your own blog or website. This plug-in can also encourage site visitors to submit your site to their favorite social bookmarking websites on their own.

The bottom line is that, while you should not overlook social bookmark traffic entirely, you should consider it as only one part of your overall marketing strategy and not as a magic bullet. The time you devote to your social bookmarking strategy will, of course, be time that is subtracted from your other daily marketing efforts. As with all things, when it comes to marketing, a good balance is essential.

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