Home The Economic Idiocy of Blocking Social Media Traffic

The Economic Idiocy of Blocking Social Media Traffic

This is a guest post by Muhammad Saleem, a social media consultant and a top-ranked community member on multiple social news sites.

By now most of you have probably seen the site ‘Why Digg is Blocked‘. For those that haven’t
come across it, the site is on a mission to convince webmasters and
content producers to reject social media traffic. Here’s a look at the
incredibly flawed logic the site uses to justify its purpose.

1. The Ad-Block Plus Argument

The first argument that the site makes is that social media sites
endorse the use of ad-blocking software which allegedly infringes on
the rights of site-owners.This argument is flawed for several reasons.
First, none of these sites endorses the use of ad-blocking software.
Yes, there was a time when Digg used to be technology-centric and a majority
of its user-base was tech-savvy enough to use ad-blocking software to
improve their online experience. However, as the site has grown, and
as social media sites in general (i.e. Reddit, Propeller, StumbleUpon and so on) continued to grow and
develop a more mainstream acceptance, the demographic has expanded to
the point where it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that a majority of
the traffic from the sites is not actively blocking advertisements.

Without any hard numbers, I would guess that the ratio of ad-blocking
to non-ad-blocking users from these sites follows the 80-20 rule. The
20% of users that are actively engaged in finding, submitting,
commenting on, and promoting the content to these site’s ‘popular’
pages probably have ad-blocking software installed, whereas the 80%
that are simply browsing these sites for interesting content to read
(or reading front-page news via RSS), have no such software enabled.

2. The Insignificance Argument

This argument really does more to hurt the author’s case than any of
the other ones (though I’m not saying the others are any less stupid).
The author argues that the social media demographic is an
insignificant percentage of the internet and an even smaller
percentage in terms of online spending, so blocking them shouldn’t
matter to site-owners. But then the author goes on to argue that “users who
don’t click on these ads are stealing bandwidth without paying for
it”. Well, if the demographic is so insignificant, why block them at
all? It’s not as if you’re losing much in the way of ad impressions or
clicks, right?

Furthermore, as you will see in the next section, this ‘insignificant’
traffic is what actually helps put most unknown sites on the map and
helps them develop any significant kind of Google traffic to begin
with. Oh, and how much bandwidth are these users really stealing? At
my old blog, i got dugg 7 times in a month and got 250,000+ visitors
that month, while the entire bandwidth cost was just $20.00 (Media Temple + WP-Cache). So no matter how small the scale on
which you’re operating, as long as you’re smart about your operation,
social media traffic should be a godsend, not something to complain

3. The Low Click Through Rate Argument

The final argument the site employs is that according to a
sitepoint.com survey, Digg users are 3 times less likely to click on an
. What this site and Sitepoint both fail to factor in,
is that even in the best case scenario (for search) Digg traffic
usually comes in numbers 80-90 times more than Google traffic to the same content. Once you
consider those numbers, even at 1/3 the CTR, the total number of
clicks you get are still 30 times as many as you would get from Google

Furthermore, where social media sites really shine is in giving
increased visibility and otherwise unattainable exposure to relatively
unknown sites. For a site that is generally unknown, has little or no
PageRank and no inbound links or RSS subscribers, you may be lucky to
get 10-20 Google visitors a day. Once you get submitted to social news
sites, however, not only can you expect tens of thousands of visitors
in the next 24 hours from those sites, but your average long-term
search traffic and visibility will increase dramatically. So even if
you completely discount the social media traffic and the low CTR
there, the fact that your Google traffic may quadruple
following social media success, is alone worth the effort.

For more discussion, don’t forget to follow the topic at Reddit (here) and Digg (here).

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