When It Comes To Sex, Reddit Users Have 15-Second Attention Span
Getting a link from Reddit or dugged by Digg is the stuff of many a blogger's or webmaster's dream. These social news sites have the power to deliver a torrent of traffic to anyone who creates content good enough to be liked and linked by users.
It just so happened that last week I uploaded a post called Cock Sucking Customer Care In Action to the Lovehoney Sex Toys blog.
The post features a genuine (and rather abusive) e-mail from a customer and my almost-straight-laced but definitely helpful response.
Someone added a link to the post on Reddit and over the next few days the sex toys blog experienced a big spike in traffic. Hurrah! Lots more people finding out about Lovehoney! Reading our blog! Looking at our sex toys! Buying our sex toys!
At least, that's the theory.
But a quick probe into our Analytics a couple of days after the spike provides some sobering evidence of the Reddit Effect and should give Webmasters cause to question the value of focusing efforts on (and stressing over) obtaining links from Reddit or Digg.
As you can see from the Analytics graph below, Lovehoney.co.uk had a pleasingly erect surge of visitors from Reddit over a 2-day period, with 5,736 visitors on 13 March and 2,659 on 14 March.
And then the number of visitors bottomed out at roughly 180 a day, which isn't very many but it's more than the 0 a day we were getting before that post was Reditted.
This probably par for the course. For the length of time that a story is new (and vaguely interesting), Reddit users swarm like bees round honey, until a new, shinier, sweeter smelling something attracts their attention.
But what's more interesting for me is the average length of time they spent on Lovehoney - only 15 seconds, compared to a site average of nearly 5 minutes.
They came, they saw, they buggered off again in less time that it probably took you to read to the end of this sentence (which I'm dragging on a bit for dramatic effect in case you're a fast reader. Maybe you'll have to read it twice.).
Maybe the blog post looked impenetrable. Maybe it needed a nice picture at the top to draw people in.
Whatever it was that caused the 15-second visit, it demonstrates that using a metric of "visits" to assess a site's success or failure can be hugely misleading. What are these visits worth?
If they're visits from Reddit to Lovehoney - nothing at all.
The Analytics fact-pipe also reveals that none of the 9,000+ vistors from Reddit spent any money. Not a single, solitary soul.
I certainly wouldn't say that just because we had no sales from all those visits that getting featured on Reddit was pointless - far from it.
It's flattering to know that other people find what you do is of interest and the traffic spike does make one pop a small personal boner.
There's a chance that some of those visitors have bookmarked, stumbled or delicious-ed Lovehoney with the intention of paying a visit later.
And there's the unknown effect of the additional in-bound links on Google's algorithm when it next comes to work out Lovehoney's place in the Web pantheon.
But we've found out - and as Seth Godin points out - getting Dugg or Reddited should not be your aim in life on the Web.
"Many bloggers seem to be on a perpetual hunt for the front page of Digg. Sure, it brings you hordes of eyeballs, but then they turn around and leave. What's the point of that, really?"
Not a lot.
(But yes, I am hoping this post will get Dugg and Redited too. And here come some buttons to help you do it. lol.)