For all the discussion on campuses, at conferences and in corporate cubicles about which social media channels are reliable or “the next big thing,” one fact remains: Without good content, your channels are not useful.
This lesson jumped out while I worked on our web and social media analytics report for March. Usually Pinterest drives virtually no traffic to oswego.edu (less than 50 refers per month) yet suddenly, for March, we had 1,076 referrals. Does this mean Pinterest had suddenly broken through to undeniable relevancy?
Not exactly. Almost all of that traffic (1,067) went to one page — a piece by Norman Weiner, emeritus director of our honors program, called How to Do Really Well in College. This was not the first time this page brought out-of-left-field traffic from a social network, and it appeared from several boards across Pinterest offering college advice.
For several months straight, StumbleUpon was always our third-biggest social referrer (behind Facebook and Twitter), except this month when Pinterest pushed it to fourth. What drives almost all of that StumbleUpon? You guessed it, How to Do Really Well in College. Weiner said he hears often about other colleges using it, and stats show now it has spread into the social sphere.
So those two channels have been viable traffic providers only because of one piece of content. How to Do Really Well in College is our 39th most-visited page on oswego.edu, and almost all of its traffic involves straight entries from offsite, many from social media referrals. As if we needed proof that content drives channels and traffic, not vice versa.
So I’m amazed about people always running to the newest, shiniest social media platform without any content strategy … it’s like deciding you’re going to open a business without any idea what you plan to sell. Content that tells stories — in text, photo or video — is the building block of every channel. That’s what you should pay attention to, first and foremost.