With Internet trends, it can be hard to tell when hype is merited and when it isn’t. Below is my attempt to answer this question for some sites of interest to local businesses. The metric traffic-to-hype ratio measures the proportion of actual traffic to how often a site gets talked about. A high ratio means there’s more steak than sizzle, a low ratio means there’s more sizzle than steak.
I ran these numbers mostly to satisfy my own curiosity. At Two Octobers, we help businesses get found, and we like to focus on what will drive real results. Sheer volume of traffic is certainly a part of that, but there is also merit to looking for under-recognized opportunities. Anecdotally, I find that the ratio of marketers to non-marketers on Twitter is very high. Given the traffic-to-hype ratio of Twitter, that should come as no surprise. It may still be worth marketing on Twitter, but you will have to work pretty hard to stand out. Yelp, on the other hand, isn’t getting a lot of hype but it is getting decent usage, so you should be able to stand out with less effort. And the very unsexy Internet yellow pages also get good traffic and very little hype.
I also think the YouTube number is interesting – YouTube gets a lot of hype, but it also gets A LOT of usage. I’m going to be thinking more about how to leverage YouTube for local businesses after writing this post.
Where does the data come from?
The visits numbers come from Compete.com September 2010 U.S. visit statistics. Search results are based on a Google query for the site name without the “.com”, excluding results on the site itself. The search results were also filtered to only show pages that were indexed in September, 2010.
The traffic-to-hype ratio is simply the ratio of the two. I recognize that there are some flaws to this methodology, for example most of these sites also have mobile applications that aren’t represented in the Compete statistics. Twitter and Foursquare in particular are affected by this problem. But all have web interfaces that account for a significant percentage of usage and I don’t know of a good source to account for application visits. If you do, please let me know!
And I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments below.