5 Sites Losing Traffic to Social Networks

downward chart man holding headRecently Tim Bednar tweeted:

I am beginning to believe that in the next decade “search” will decline along with SEO in favor of discovery via your social network.

It struck me as something worth further thought, so I copied it to my blog ideas file and let it bounce around in my head for a while.

As it bounced around I realized there are a bunch of other things people are doing on social networking sites which they used to do elsewhere.  As a result, there are bunch of sites that are losing traffic to social networks.

Here are 5 that come to mind…

1) Google

I think Tim is right.  Some questions are better answered by friends than a computer algorithm:

  • What’s the best Cuban restaurant in Tampa?
  • Is it worth the extra $ to see Avatar in an IMAX theater?
  • I’m thinking about getting my first digital SLR camera. What’s my best option?

Don’t get me wrong, Google’s not dying.  This only applies to a small percentage of searches, but it’s a shft.

2) CNN

People are getting more and more of their news through unofficial sources like blogs and Twitter than ever before.  Never has this been more apparent than in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.  As I wrote last week, when the quake struck CNN did not have any reporters in Port Au Prince.  That first night, most of the news that came out of Haiti came from individuals using social networks.

3) Google Reader

Twitter has become something of an RSS replacement.  I keep up with a lot of blogs using an RSS feed reader, but I also follow many of those same bloggers on Twitter.  Lately I’ve found myself checking Twitter a lot more frequently than my feed reader.

A lot of other Twitter users have never used an RSS feed reader and never will because twitter provides adequate notification of the blogs they want to read.

4) GeoCities

Yeah, this is old news.  Geocities doesn’t even exist anymore.  But the point is at one time, people used to create personal/family websites and put personal news and pictures on it.  Social networks have almost completely replaced the personal website.

5) Yours

Maybe you’ve noticed, but people don’t “check back for the latest news.”  The only reason people come to your website is if they’re looking for something specific.

For example, if you run a church website, people will come to your site because they’re looking for a new church or because they want more information about a specific event they heard about elsewhere.  But the vast majority of people don’t sit around thinking, “I wonder what’s going on at my church these days. Hey, maybe I’ll go to the website and browser around for a while.”

If you want to stay engaged with your church members, customers, students, etc you’ve got to engage them where they already are – social networks, email, text messages.

What sites are you visiting less because of social networking?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

12 Responses to “5 Sites Losing Traffic to Social Networks”

  1. the problem with the social networks is that there is no way to track the traffic that visits (or does not visit) your church's fan page. i have two fan pages on facebook–one for the church in general and one for the daily bible reading. the latter is fairly successful in terms of "fans," but there's no evidence that any of those "fans" every visit or read any of the posts. The best i can hope for is that when i post something on the fan page, the "fans" at least acknowledge that when it appears on their homepage in facebook. I provide links and such to try to move them from the fan page to the actual church website, but again, there's little evidence that this is working.

    I'm starting to think that the best way to get visitors is to list in a serch engine with God awful keywords like "naked ladies" and the like and when they arrive at the church web page, they are greeted with a message that says: "If you are searching for those things, then you definitely need to spend some time on this page." I doubt if i'll have the courage to ever do it, but it's hard not to be cynical these days.

    • Joseph, actually you can track traffic on Facebook. Click the "Ads and Pages" icon at the bottom, then click the Pages link (or go directly to http://www.facebook.com/pages/manage/) Next click "View Insights." There's all kinds of useful data there, and you can down load it to a speadsheet if you like.

      I would recommend against your second suggestion. First of all, you're never going to rank well in search engines for "naked ladies." Second, that kind of bait and switch approach doesn't really work.

  2. Thanks for the reference.

  3. I don't see twitter as a replacement for my RSS Reader – I see the two as entirely difefrent beasts.

    Yes, like you I follow some of the bloggers who's blogs I access via RSS (you for example) but the beauty of my RSS reader is that the link to new content sits there waiting patiently for me to click through it as you may have spotted from my random replies to older postings of yours.

    Twitter on the other hand is hard to organise / filter and certainly isn't good on a historical point of view for tracking older content. And I can only imagine if you follow more than I, how much harder it must be to track said content.

    • Stuart, I totally agree. But a lot of people use a key to open the mail instead of a letter opener too. The two are totally "different beasts" and a key is not the ideal tool for the job, but it's convenient especially if you don't open a lot of mail.

  4. I think christian social networks are great, also the christian website like http://www.vchristianstore.com that provide teenagers with christian clothing are doing a great job.

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