Cashback. The more we spend on groceries, the more we earn in reward points. So runs the typical supermarket loyalty card scheme. The cashback on two years of pro-shot video production and loading each YouTube video’s description box with links to Darko.Audio articles is more viewers clicking back to the website. The more I ‘spend’ on YouTube, the more I ‘earn’ in website traffic.
Search engines aside, the top 5 external referrers to Darko.Audio for the past 3 months was as follows:
1. YouTube (YT)
2. Daily Audiophile (1/3 of YT)
3. Facebook Groups + the Darko.Audio FB page (1/4 of YT)
…then a big drop…
4. Steve Hoffman forum (1/40 of YT)
5. Roon Labs Community (1/40 of YT)
Head-fi (1/50 of YT)
Audiogon (1/50 of YT)
However, the story here isn’t about YouTube’s number one spot but what goes on beneath it.
In second place – and number one before the Darko.Audio YouTube channel kicked into gear – Daily Audiophile has proven itself to be a very popular aggregator of numerous hi-fi publications’ RSS feeds. Site owner Mark Wieman spied a need for such an overview back in 2011. You can read more about his operation here.
Pulling up in third place, a surprise: Facebook*. The Darko.Audio Facebook page endured regeneration and an associated reset to zero followers when the site changed its name back in early 2018. Two years down the line and the Facebook page remains small: under 4000 followers. It is responsible for only a small portion of the Facebook traffic travelling back to this website. The larger chunk comes from Facebook groups.
Anecdotal evidence supports this theory: with significantly lower technical barriers to entry – no separate hosting, no software config – we now see far more hi-fi-related Facebook groups than two years ago. There are groups focussed on tubes, on vinyl or on streaming. Others make CD players, Canadian audiophiles or streaming services their theme. Unofficial groups for brand-specific discussion of say, Roon, MQA or VPI, are not hard to find.
Further, we see a number of the hi-fi press corps using these groups to share their news stories and reviews — a behaviour that we don’t see on forums.
And yet even more interesting is that Facebook, its discussion groups and pages, now bring forty times (!) the number of boys to the Darko.Audio yard than do forums. One old (Steve Hoffman) and one new (Roon Labs Community) now duke it out for a fourth place in my Top 5 with the former currently having the edge.
I am not suggesting that these forums are seeing diminished user engagement; I’m not privy to their numbers so I can’t know for sure. But the referral traffic provided by Darko.Audio’s WordPress backend clearly shows that the discussion of me and my team’s work has shifted from where it used to be – on forums – to Facebook. Could this be why several of the larger forums – who previously featured in the aforelisted top five referrers – are now bolting on editorial front-ends in a bid to broaden their appeal? Again, we can’t know for sure but from where I sit, the hi-fi conversation is no longer forum-centric. Social media channels are eating their lunch.
The cheese is always on the move.
*Conspicuous by its absence is Twitter.