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Beware Time Traps at Social Media Sites

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Squidoo logo
Squidoo logo

A time trap online is like chasing after pennies in the stock market. It is rewarding to a point, but after a while more effort is a waste of time.

Two real examples of websites with promotional value show how they can hurt the productivity of website publishers, managers and employees.

Pinterest and a former site called Squidoo are good examples of the problem. Squidoo, which no longer exists for good reason, showcases the danger of spending too much time chasing after audience or revenue. Pinterest is doing the same.

The Squidoo Example

Squidoo for a time was one of the biggest and most popular content aggregation sites on the Internet. Anyone could post articles there and get a share of the advertising revenue.

The advertising revenue depended on the prominence of the articles on the site. The prominence of the articles depended on how often people posted there.

So people who posted say, once a week, had their articles appear in the most prominent positions, got the most audience and therefore the most revenue. People who posted less often had their articles plunge in prominence.

The system sounded fair on the surface because the same behavior is true elsewhere online, notably with Google and its YouTube subsidiary. The more often people post, the more audience and revenue they receive. When they cut back, Google reduces their prominence.

But prominence is relative, and Squidoo made active posters much more prominent and inactive posters much less prominent than Google and other sites. So a writer who went on vacation or took some other break got hammered. It took a lot of effort to get that prominence back again.

In the end, at least for me and I think other writers, the amount of money wasn’t worth the extra effort compared to other sites and projects. Squidoo eventually failed.

In the meantime, HubPages, which also is a content aggregation site, has been able to survive. Articles there get prominence and stay that way. They also continue to hold onto rankings in search engines.

Now It’s Pinterest

I have found the same problem exists with Pinterest. If I post an image there three or four times a week, my views and click throughs skyrocket. If I take a break, they plunge.

Productive social media accounts and other sites should develop a momentum over time as they acquire more and more links, articles, images and other content. The growing content aggregation should present more options in search results or visits to pages on these sites.

That’s how YouTube works, and of course that’s how most websites grow their audiences because they simply have more content to offer search engines.

YouTube accounts with 10 videos attract a lot more visits than an account with only one, even when the publisher stops adding new videos. YouTube doesn’t bury the entire account, although total traffic is more likely to dip somewhat. It will even allow the newer videos to grow in audience, although older ones may remain flat.

Pinterest may not bury the entire account the way Squidoo did, but it certainly does not allow any momentum to build. An account with 100 images doesn’t appear to get much more audience or clicks than an account with 50 or even 10.

Lessons Learned

No two social media accounts or websites behave the same way. So it’s important to test each one and see if the time they require is worth the money and effort.

Publishers value social media for brand, audience and revenue. If they don’t deliver enough of those three values, then they aren’t worth the time.

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