What? How can I possibly have “too much” web traffic? Isn’t more traffic always a good thing? Isn’t it the goal of everything we’re doing online – to attract more and more folks to our wares?
Yes – and no. Getting traffic is relatively easy, but building community is hard.
Traffic comes because you have the buzz video of the moment (think TMZ.com) or the latest in soon disposable news headlines (think CNN.com).
Traffic comes and goes quietly. But piss off a community and you will get an earful.
Community is earned. As Mitch Joel writes in Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone,
Many people who have lots of traffic really don’t have much of a community at all. In fact, hunting for the traffic can be a game of diminishing returns. To really evolve and maintain, focus on the five new community members (who will, we hope, become lifetime customers) versus the 55,000 who might float in and right out simply because of an orphan link that someone posted somewhere. Namely, they were interested in your content for about five seconds, but now they are gone.
We are building our digital strategies in no small part around the same construct forming the foundation of our over-the-air strategies: Attract more ears (or more clicks) and sell them to folks who want to buy ears (or clicks) in bulk.
This is fine – as far as it goes. But it only goes so far. See, in a digital space there are infinite aggregators of bulk clicks (and even ears). One of the only things that can make your aggregation special is if that “audience” has a relationship with your brand that is richer and deeper than the kind of momentary magnetism that brings me to the latest disposable YouTube puppies-on-skateboards extravaganza.
As Joel writes, “the long-term game of sustainability in the online channels is one of quality versus quantity.”
So how do you view your digital channels?
As repurposing opportunities for what is already free and readily available over the air?
As a hive for contest players?
As the thing you “have to have” – as long as you don’t have to pay to have it or to invest in it?
Or as the wellspring for quality, enduring fan relationships, where the profit derives from the relationship and not the stray chance of a page view?