Saturday, 3 September 2011

So should I spend more time tweeting?

It has been over a month since Hannah and I unveiled the new Radiance Lighting website. The main aim of the exercise was to create a site far easier to manage than the hand made site that had grown to over 400 products.
I'm pleased, we have managed to create a site that Hannah and Matt can quickly get new products up on the site and take old products off.
The new site gives us an opportunity to serve Radiance's customers better as well; over time we can improve. The question is how do we know what to improve and when we have succeeded?
To some extent I can put my expert hat on (it's blue and white stripes with a red propeller.) I have studied and gained engineering experience and this certainly helped with our new design (over 65% increase in visitors.) However Philip Tetlock studied how good expert predictions are and showed they were pretty crummy; Dan Gardner's book Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail and Why We Believe them Anyway is a popular account of Tetlock's research.
So we can't rely on me in my expert hat, what we are going to do is be guided by statistics and a scientific method. This is where the cryptic graphic above comes in.
It is a common occurrence that a visitor to a website arrives and simply leaves again having done nothing more on that site. It is so common it has a name 'bounce rate.' Bounce rate is generally a bad thing, for Radiance we want people to stop and browse and look at lots of nice things.
I have measured bounce rate over the last few months and the results are shown in the graphic. It shows where people came from and how likely they are to stick around.
How might this be useful? Well it is up for debate how useful social networking actually is, it is very fashionable and there are lots of people singing its praises but I and other people have our doubts. So instead of having an expert slanging match I can look for data.
I can see from the bounce rate that when visitors come from Twitter or Facebook they are not likely to stick around when compared with google or better still Hannah's own blog. It isn't the full story because if huge numbers of people arrived via Facebook the bounce rate wouldn't matter so much (actually in this case the absolute number for facebook and twitter visitors are tiny.)
I can look at all the information we have and recommend that Hannah only spends time on social networking that she finds fun; if she were to invest any further time it would be much better spent elsewhere.


  1. I think there is a place for Twitter / Facebook in marketing - but if it's over used it's counter productive. I will quickly unfollow someone who bombards me with "buy this" kind of tweets. But if it's intermingled with personal chat, or comment about how stuff is made or what the maker is up to - then i'll stay interested. But I will only "buy this" if i'm in the market for whatever this is. I don't think it's a very good place for impulse sales. Still - I am probably more inclined to go buy from someone I've spent a year or so following, occasionally clicking on their links and going "that's nice" - when I finally have some money and or need, I would deliberately go and look at their stuff again and see if it fit the bill.
    But I don't think anyone should spend time on twitter or facebook if they don't enjoy it. It shows, and feels impersonal. And if marketing is all its about, someone else could be paid to do it impersonally for you.

  2. I agree that there is a place for social media in business. It can inspire. It can help with seo. It's great for feedback. The thing that makes me uncomfortable is the over promise. In Hannah's case search represents most sales, followed by mailing list and social represents not even a blip.

    I think that a distortion of the place of twitter or facebook in the universe of running a business needs a gentle push back. Given a choice: spend time on the Internet or improve your product - go improve your product.

    I am fascinated with the reasons that there is passionate faith in these tools. There are interesting theories that these tools push buttons in our psyche very cleverly. Similar to the ring of a telephone mimicking a baby cry for attention.

    I like what Clay Shirky says: only when a technology is boring does it really become useful.

  3. Well there has been an interesting conversation going on whilst I've been away. Radiance's ears have been burning! I love the bounce rate diagram. Brilliant to see it drawn out like that and very interesting to see how visitors behave.

    Interesting what Sarah says too about probably only buying if she's been following and checking someone out for a while. A quick bounce in and out for a look every now and again helps you remember a business when you are ready to make a purchase. It certainly serves a purpose.

    Now hurry up and come home from blog club. I haven't seen you all week! ;)


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