"Go to where your audience is, or likely to be." That's a piece of conventional wisdom I come across quite a lot. Indeed, I have subscribed to it myself.
But isn't it a circular argument?
In my case, I receive no referrals from Instagram, so I don't post anything to do with my work on Instagram. For that reason, I receive no referrals from Instagram. Therefore....
I am thinking of undertaking an experiment, of posting photos on Instagram that have some connection with my work (writing, training, speaking in the field of education technology), and then seeing if the amount of traffic from that source increases.
Although I guess it could be a monumental waste of time because I receive hardly any traffic from Instagram.
Where is your traffic coming from?
To find out the answer to this question, I'd suggest three approaches, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
For general information about which social media platforms people are using, look at The top social media sites people are using. Note that this article does not contain evergreen content -- in other words, it will almost certainly become outdated over time. Nevertheless, it's not a bad starting point.
You can also take a common sense approach, which I have done to some extent. For example, if you are writing for teachers and principals, they are probably going to be on Twitter, Facebook and perhaps Linked-in, rather than on Instagram (in a professional capacity). However, the trouble with this approach is that (a) it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, as discussed above, and (b) it's not based on evidence, just assumptions.
Using your web analytics provides a surer foundation. You may have a stats package as part of your website/blog set-up, but the best tool I've found is Google Analytics. Makes sense, if you think about it, given the amount of data Google has about each of us.
Is it worth trying new social media platforms?
In a word, yes. However, I'd recommend doing it in a systematic way. For example, set aside some time to start a few boards in Pinterest, update them regularly, and see if you get more traffic from that source.
You can also use this approach to see if any guest blogging you've done has paid off in terms of traffic.
I have to say, though, that this is a counsel of perfection: I find I don't have enough time to experiment in such ways as much as I'd like to, so I tend to focus on the places where I know my traffic is coming from.
Which is all a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy really.
If you found this article useful, why not sign up to my newsletter, Digital Education, for exclusive content, prize competetions, news, views and reviews?