developerWorks Twitter account saving over $600K per month: what uplift will Google+ provide?

Here at developerWorks, we get a lot of traffic from Twitter (and StumbleUpon via the su.pr URL shortener). We’re talking to the tune of at least 200,000 clicks per month. To get that kind of traffic through other channels, such as paid search, we would shell out at least $600K – and here I’m being seriously conservative.

Great, we’re getting a bunch of traffic without having to pay any third party. But is the traffic any good? developerWorks’ core objective is engagement, and we find this Twitter traffic ranking as high in terms of loyalty (and proxy metrics such as ‘average page views per session’) as any other channel at our disposal.

So here we have a social media strategy delivering tremendous ROI when measured against other marketing channels.

Now talk of using Twitter as a marketing channel may sound heretical. Whatever happened to using social media to engage in conversation? That’s fine, but that isn’t strictly our model. We produce technical content in the shape of articles, technical demos, trials – a lot of content that really doesn’t lend itself to 140 character feedback. So we take a different approach: we adopt a content syndication model. We use Twitter to promote our content. And our content helps bolster our Twitter audience. A swirling symbiosis of content and marketing.

Sure, we’ve reached out and made ourselves known to people in our space (primarily through monitoring #hashtags), but no-one is going to follow us back if our content isn’t appealing. How do we build and promote this content? Largely by looking at what resonates with our audience and building a content and Twitter promotion strategy around this.

This really is a content marketing story. As Edelman’s Michael Brito points out:

"As long as the messaging on a company’s owned media channels is relevant, not inundated with sales propaganda, and delivers valuable information, they will essentially position themselves as a trusted advisor of content related to their own products and/or industry related information."

Being a trusted advisor really ties up with the core mission of developerWorks.

Now where does Google+ fit into this? Well, this content marketing model can be applied to any social network that has a strong technical/informational community (for this reason, we’ve seen this model work better on Twitter than on Facebook). Google+ has something to offer this segment. Google does have some history here, having evolved Usenet into Google Groups and swallowed up Blogger.

As an early example on this fledgling community, Digg founder Kevin Rose upped and moved his blog wholesale over to Google+. We’re not quite ready to go that far with developerWorks, but if the platform continues to grow at its current rate, the Google+ for Business model could be a particularly strong fit for our content marketing strategy. There’s a bunch of suppositions here, but this is definitely something we will be keeping our eye on.

If you have similar stories around content marketing on social networks, we’d be interested in hearing these!