Monday, January 31, 2011

hashtags and blog traffic

I'm playing around with hashtags on Twitter in an effort to determine their marketing effectiveness. This is very unscientific work. Part of the problem is that I have three ways to gauge the amount of traffic, and each way calculates traffic differently from the other two. For my blog, I have SiteMeter and Blogger's own proprietary traffic software. For eBay, I've got eBay's standard hit counter. When I use hashtags to drive traffic to my blog or my eBay items, I have no reliable, standard metric.

Still, I can share some tentative results. I've noticed that, when I use the "#eBay" hashtag on Twitter, the number of hits for a given eBay item will shoot up by 15-20 hits within the first minute after I've published the hashtag. I just now tried a similar tactic with my blog: I deliberately used a popular hashtag, "#porn," to see whether that would instantly drive up traffic. According to SiteMeter (remember: SiteMeter counts hits differently from the eBay hit counter), there's been little to no effect on my traffic. I saw a brief spike of 1-2 hits, which might not have been a spike at all, before everything returned to normal.

Hashtagging doesn't seem to be a very effective marketing strategy overall: on eBay, there's an initial spike of traffic, and then the hits revert to a trickle. The only way to drive hundreds of customers to an eBay item seems to be through repeated hashtagging, an obnoxious strategy that would only lead to wasted time and intense self-loathing.

All the same, experiments will continue throughout the day.


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