socialI’ve read a few things here and there about social traffic and how ‘important’ it is to have. I also have a personal blog and the social traffic is through the roof, however, the big question is, does any of the social traffic really matter?

Take StumbleUpon traffic, for example. If you’re a Stumbler, you know as much as any other Stumbler, you’re killing time and looking for things of interest. This usually doesn’t involve running around spending a dime, it’s just about finding funny pictures or things of interest without having to put much thought into it. I can honestly say I’ve never spent a single penny on a site I have stumbled on. I might have referenced something I found on my blog, but I can’t see any financial benefit that this type of traffic might bring.

Now let’s look at Digg traffic. I will admit I’m not a big Digg fan, mostly because I’ve read about how a group of power Digg users control what gets pushed up and what doesn’t so I don’t view it as as much a world view as I do a group of users view. The results are pretty much the same thing though, it’s either political, funny, shocking or just overall newsworthy, not financially beneficial to anyone. I did have one blog post that someone dugg and there was about a week of traffic that came from it, all which opens that one page, looks at the content, and then moves on.

facebookadsI’ve also blogged some time ago about Facebook Ads and how poor they performed. Granted, this was millions of new users ago and they’ve probably put more work into their ad platform, but what are you looking for when you login to Facebook? Something to buy or pay for? I would say 75% of the time I login to my account, the ad I see you can see to the right. Yep, it’s a mugshot of Matt Baker, who works for us. Just seems like a big waste to show that ad over ads that might actually convert for serious advertisers. (not that I don’t enjoy seeing Baker’s peace sign) As I said before, other than branding, I still can’t see a huge benefit in running ads on the Facebook system.

I would love to see a study that compares the value of a social media site to a large company with thousands of employees, and the company spends millions of dollars in advertising with that social site. Then determine how much employee time is wasted on that social site during a typical workday. Total both sides of the study and see what the true benefit to the company really is. What if it was found that social websites are a proven way to cost companies millions of dollars in lost revenues because their employees spend more time being social than being productive?

I’m not here to say social sites are worthless, I’m just asking if they really matter when it comes to paying the bills. If you have a site that averages a thousand uniques per month without any social traffic and you convert 5% of the traffic, and then after bumping your traffic up another thousand uniques of social visits, would that translate into the same number of conversions? I’ve searched and haven’t really found much by way of real life examples or data to prove it’s worth the time, so if you are reading this and know of a good study or two, please post a link or any real life situations you might have been involved with.