People are a lot more fun than traffic

A {grow} Community Week contribution by Leo Widrich

It seems that every web marketer is obsessed with traffic. Massive traffic.  But as I’ve become immersed in the social web, is it just me, or does that just ring kind of hollow? I have this uneasy feeling I have been unable to shake off.

What is traffic?

How does it support GOALS?

Does traffic always mean LEADS?

Are leads always the right goal to shoot for? If I’m a blogger, do I want leads?

Isn’t it all semantics?

So some call it traffic but really, we’re talking about people. Some call it leads … but isn’t it really conversations. Might that be even better than a lead?

I believe that taking a strong standpoint on what you are trying to achieve with your business starts with the words you use. They shape your philosophy and vision and are the doors to your future ideas.

Saying “guys, let’s seriously try and get traffic to our site, so we can increase the leads” sounds fundamentally different than saying “is there a way we can reach out to more people in our niche and start conversations with them?

Yes, eventually, they are trying to achieve the same thing. Only the techniques and manners to achieve their goals will be different. And I am making a bold bet here: The results will be too.

What’s your business attitude?

Deciding the fundamental attitude toward your specific market starts with the very attitude you are taking toward people.

And I believe that especially on the level of social platforms, more of a “people and conversation” focus can make or break a campaign and a whole social media presence.

This can’t be forced into anyone’s head from one day to the next. It is a complete new way of thinking and looking at things online.

People are a lot more fun than traffic

What I am grateful for is that it is finally possible to take the “social” in media very serious. Finally we can just talk to people in our niche, without hard selling and pushing and build relationships the old-fashioned way.

If you really have the values for people and conversations at your very heart and not only on your lips, I believe this gives you the biggest success possible: to have fun and enjoy yourself whilst you are doing it all.

Talking to people sounds a lot more fun to me than generating traffic!

So how do you this makes a difference in how you approach your market?

Leo Widrich is the Co-Founder of BufferApp a new Twitter Tool to make publishing tweets easy without flooding your followers. (He blogs Twitter tips here.)

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  • Right on Leo. People have been obsessed with the number of “hits” on their websites since the mid 90s when I started my internet focus. It seems to have even become worse with all the analytics  (which are quoted back to me all the time) ~ so I ask ……traffic … how many of the hits were the right traffic? How many leads ? and
    how many produced the results that you want, such as profitable sales? ~ Repeat customers? Yes, giveaways or sale items can produce “traffic” and sales, but do nothing to increase the bottom line unless they increase the loyal customer base! (this is the ongoing discussion with GroupOn)  Yes, real people that keep coming back….. people you can converse with are far more fun than statistics. Understanding your customer, really understanding what makes them tick (buy) gives you a good chance of creating the right strategy/information in the right communication channel(s), SM or other and drawing them into the conversation and buying.   

  • Great stuff @leowid:disqus  It’s all about the people. 
    Getting to meet Mark in Stockholm at the weekend, for example, or interviewing you for my podcast were great ways of connecting more deeply to the work you’re doing. People are most definitely first. 

  • Interesting how a choice of words can completely change your attitude toward what you’re doing and the goals you’re trying to achieve. Phrases like “traffic” and “target market” and such don’t do it for me as it’s always people at the heart of what we do. Having said that…

    While I think that “traffic” is a dehumanizing word I don’t feel the same about the word “lead” as it’s more of a label for a person that meets certain criteria, namely being at some stage of your sales funnel. Now I wouldn’t call everyone that follows you on Twitter a “lead” per say, however they may become one.

    I think one major issue behind all of this is that people are still trying to decide how to use social media in a business context. I’ve gotten many leads and customers via social channels, specifically my blog and Twitter, and it all starts with conversations. So what we’re really talking about, as it pertains to business, is a shift in how it’s done due to the changes social media have brought about.

    That required a new viewpoint and a new vocabulary.

  • You’re right – this is more than semantics, this is about mindset. It’s about treating visitors to your blog and website like PEOPLE and not numbers. It’s amazing what happens when you focus on the the relationships instead of viewing every interaction as getting you one step closer to a sale. 

  • Anonymous

    Robert, thanks for stopping by, always great to see you! 🙂

    Very concisely put together, I think it is all part of a more general shift that requires this new vocabulary, just like you say. Indeed, I think it is all inherently bound to conversations and if this is in the focus, then it is all that matters. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Jon.

    Yes, absolutely, these are great examples of getting to know each other better and build a truly lasting relationship. Was fantastic to chat with you for the podcast and definitely a lot of fun! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Hi Caroline,

    Absolutely, bringing the Groupon discussion in here is exactly what I was thinking of. I think at the end of the day, both routes can work, but just like you say, statistics aren’t near as fun as focusing on the discussion and conversing with people who might buy your stuff. 🙂

    Thanks for a great contribution! 

  • Ironically, business has always been about relationships, and those are typically started by some kind of a conversation. The conversation leads to business. So then it’s a matter of having the right conversations with the right people at the right time. And therein lies the challenge.

  • I should add that the “statistics” are most important in understanding the “profile” of your customer and today the information we have compared to years ago (when much was seat of the pants analysis) is amazing if used in an optimum way. Cheers.

  • Nathan Dube

    Leo Widrich, you are man after my own heart. GREAT Post! Fully Agree, 100% This is a shift in perspective that I believe must be accepted by all people. That being said I feel like this is nothing new. In fact it is almost silly that it has taken this long for such an idea to become more prevalent in the world of business. The world would be a better place if traffic, leads  and “the sell” are always after thoughts to the conversations and relationships.Great thoughts. Many thanks.

  • Kate Bacon

    Just beautifully put!  Thank you 🙂


  • Beautifully put – this is EXACTLY why I love social media – marketing became fun!


  • Anonymous

    Kate, fantastic, thanks for your kind words. Indeed, it is – lots of fun! 🙂

  • Anonymous


    Thanks so much for stopping by. Glad you liked the post. 

    Very right, it is nothing new. It just seems to be a perception that is fortunately coming more and more into the forefront – finally one might want to add. 🙂 

  • Anonymous

    Laura, great to see you here. 🙂

    Yes, absolutely, exchanging numbers with people makes all the difference. So true, when you start embracing this thinking you are indeed amazed by what is achieved. The sales will come naturally, I am quite sure! 🙂 

  • Anonymous

    wow, that is a fantastic contribution. It is all about having the right conversations with the right people, great way to put it Robert! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Yes, it would be foolish to leave the statistics out, just how we treat numbers is something I think might be worth pondering. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    btw, Robert. Love the new open and friendly profile pic! 🙂

  • You are most welcome.  I reposted your article (thanks to Social Butterfly Solutions mentioning it) on my FB Page. 🙂

  • Leo, another great read. I agree that others need to embrace the SOCIAL aspect of social media.

  • Sometimes our blinders are on and all we see is the goal line, and the measurements we’ve implemented that mark success and we forget to stop and build relationships.  It’s the relationships and experiences that we create or that an organization delivers that weather the lull of the promotion/coupon/ or even bad publicity >> think Toyota/Southwest. Traffic is transitory; relationships are much more enduring. Thank you for the reminder!

  • Leo,

    This is the kind of marketing and business discussion that totally sucks me in, instead of making me want to run for the hills.  I’m a psychologist–I *do* conversations.  When I can frame marketing and business building as listening for problems and helping to develop solutions, I can get on board with that.  Thanks for the reminder!

  • There’s that old, oft-repeated saying, “build it and they will come.” And then what? I appreciate your reminders here–people have come to expect us to give them a “face” they can actually engage. Whenever available, we all make decisions about the company based on the “attitude” they perceive from the business, as you said, Leo.

  • Excellent post, Leo!

    I am in front of business owners constantly who may or may not understand or grasp the social web or the importance of a web presence or the crucial nature of having a strong website or any of the other things lumped into marketing aka everything you do to run a business. However, they want revenue, period. It’s nice to network and grow your human collateral but without revenue, it’s a hobby. 

    So if we can finally see growth for companies that stick with it every single day like they run their business every single day and not try and build a company called “campaign”, perhaps we may want to back off the ROI conversation because humans are so much more valuable that transactional bargain hunters who have no attachment to your offering save price. 

  • Excellent post. We should focus on relationships! Numbers should only be the focus if we’re using them to determine how we improve the relationship.

  • Al Pittampalli

    I couldn’t agree more, Leo. Everyone always ask me how to build traffic, when what they should really be asking is: how can I build a loyal tribe of enthusiastic people who can’t wait to hear from me every day? Good post.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Al! Absolutely, this is what we should be aiming for. Getting into great talks and looking to have cheering us on! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Hi Stacy, great to see you here. Yes, well put, numbers shouldn’t be forgotten, but maybe the focus should be changed. 🙂 

  • Anonymous


    Great to see you here. 

    That is a great contribution. The fact that we start to look for people and conversations also implies to be in the game for the long run and not for campaigns! Glad you mentioned that, I think it ties in nicely with the discussion. 

    Yes, very true, me too I would absolutely pick the conversation over the bargain hunter. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    awesome, very glad you liked it! 🙂

  • Leo, you had me at “fundamental.” That’s my favorite word! Your points are so well taken. I think a lot of people are very confused about how to approach social and digital marketing. At one extreme are people who are all relationship and no business, and at the other, people who are all business and no relationship. The latter are your “traffic” lovers. They think they can treat everyone not as individuals, but as a mass of eyeballs who are all alike that can be sliced and diced and processed like cheese. (They would be wrong, of course.) Another source of confusion, as you noted, is the lack of precision in the words we choose to describe what we’re trying to accomplish. We need to be clear and specific, and we need to be able to tell the difference between the ends and the means. Great post.

  • Anonymous

    a great way of looking at it Leo. People and conversations rather than traffic and leads. Thanks for bringing people back into the equation

  • Anonymous

    Anne, no worries, it’s definitely my pleasure! 🙂 

  • Anonymous

    Steven, thanks for your comment.

    Yes, you are right, I think it was important to put this in the center. 

    Absolutely, love your degree of distinction, I think it is just like you say, if you we can break it down and look into it more deeply the results will be different. We can focus on the conversations, whilst of course without loosing track of a certain mass.

    Thanks for the fantastic contribution! 🙂 

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