Click-throughs ain’t the measure of social media

I get it that some folks see the likes of Facebork, Twitter, LinkedIn, or even the lovely Google+ as existing purely to push traffic the way of their own websites. But, I find that very sad. Social media can be so much more.

All too often I will stumble upon angry discussions about how this platform or that platform (usually Google+) under performs when it comes to being seen as the launchpad to precious websites. But, why are the ‘industry’ people only seeing social media as a driver of traffic to their pathetic websites?

Surely, social media has so much more to offer, over which it should be measured. It should be its own ‘thing’ in its own right, not just have value as a trampoline.

Facebork is used in its own right by most of its conventional users (you know, the thick and stupid ones that end up on Jeremy Kyle). However, the advertising and the pretend ‘Hey you must see this‘ spam shite that infests most ‘News Feeds’ or ‘Timelines’ will more often than not mean they will click through to watch a ‘Hey you must see this‘ video or ‘like‘ or ‘share‘ a page that might help them win a brand new Blackberry, and in the process ‘spam’ all their ‘friends’. And that’s without discussing the Candy Crush games and beyond. There is so much that’s trying to ping them away from the core Faceborkness.

Faceborkers don’t tend to engage with anything that isn’t shiny, so the types of websites they can be catapulted to remain very limited. Even so, most of the Jeremy-Kyle-show-in-waiting types are locked into Facebork, so they mainly are ‘using it in its own right’.

Twitter isn’t so much a social network. Its structure of just having millions of folks simultaneously shouting 160 characters into a huge bucket makes it more a place for stalking and showing off than a self-contained two-way social media system. It is very much driven by links to ‘elsewheres’, and with a wide range of demographics using it, it could be considered far less as something that can be used in its own right, although it is. But again, why on earth are there teams of oiks tapping away at their snot-covered laptops desperately trying to lead Twitter users away to other places?  It’s not just because of the annoying 160 character limit.

Well, as with all ‘spamming’ of social media, it is the chosen way to promote sites that nobody would ever visit under normal circumstances. Spamming in this way has become a very lucrative industry. And extremely annoying.

I don’t make any money out of my award-winning world renowned blog, England’s England, but I spam each article out via social media in exactly the same way, in my attempt to drive viewers to me. It’s probably wrong in the altruistic scheme of things, but I too am guilty of being annoying.

However, I would never dream of valuing each social network purely on its ability to drive traffic to England’s England. To me a social network is about what users wish to engage with each other, socialise, about.

It is in this context that I am defensive of the ever laughed at Google+. I find I engage with more people, with a far more measured and interesting interplay on a wide range of topics and subjects, than I do on other social media. I think this is because Google+ has become more about engagement and less about driving content to other places. It is a place to drive to.  And for those who only measure social media by its ability to ping people elsewhere via click-throughs, this engagement and ‘socialising’ is annoying and the exact opposite of what they want.