Whilst looking through our site visitors stats recently I noticed two big spikes in traffic.
What may have caused them...?
Below is a graph taken from our web analytics software (the nice folks over at WebSideStory ) showing the number of visitors to E-consultancy.com over June and July this year.
You can see that traffic typically ticks along at around 4,000 unique users a day with it busier during the week than at the weekend. But you can also see two big spikes - one in June and one more recently at the end of July.
The first spike drove around 12,000 unique users to our site. The second around 35,000 unique users.
Looking into it, the first spike came from Digg. Specifically from here - http://www.digg.com/programming/Are_all_AJAX_homepages_doomed_ which points to a blog post we created at http://www.e-consultancy.com/news-blog/361247/are-all-ajax-homepages-doomed.html and got 429 "Diggs".
The second spike came from this appearance on Google News which pointed to a blog post at http://www.e-consultancy.com/news-blog/361446/10-reasons-why-i-ll-swap-my-ipod-for-a-zune.html.
Three things I noted from this:
Firstly, that 'social media' sites like Digg can indeed drive a lot of traffic. So too can aggregator sites like Google News. Even for a niche player like us there is a lot of attention and traffic that you can get this way.
Secondly, that if you are in B2B marketing (which we are, given our users and subscribers are all online marketing and e-commerce professionals) then you can get a lot of attention (including PR etc.) if there is something of a consumer spin to what you are talking about e.g. the big traffic spike we got was because 'iPod' is such a popular keyword and topic. And it is particularly easy to do this online.
Thirdly, in both cases, if you read the user comments and Digg comments, there is both commendation and criticism of what we originally said. Some of it is subjective and open to opinion, some of it I think the users / readers probably have a fair point. So the collective wisdom is indeed greater than any one organisation. But that's the beauty of the internet and 'social media' as a platform for debate and collective self-betterment (if that word exists?).
Clearly the more important question as a business is what brand value (or damage) and what commercial value (or damage) such traffic-driving might have. Certainly if we were flogging advertising on a CPM basis (which we don't) then it's pretty easy to see the value...