Just a few years ago, social media (namely, Facebook) was considered to be a passing fad. Yet, social media has only gained in popularity. We use it to gain a view of the world, and to access every kind of information under the sun.
"Nearly two-thirds of American adults (65%) use social networking sites, up from 7% when Pew Research Center began systematically tracking social media usage in 2005."
Pew Research Center, Social Media Usage: 2005-2015
Businesses use social media every day to find potential customers and connect with existing ones. The best marketers understand that social media provides the social proof buyers are searching for, thus playing a major role in purchasing decisions. There are over 3 billion internet users (almost half the world's population!), and over 2 billion of them have active social media accounts.
Here's how to reach them in order to increase traffic to your website.
Snapshot of Digital in 2017: Global Overview by We Are Social
Social media can add considerable value to your business. Among its many superpowers, it can boost search rank, increase website traffic, and make your products or services more visible, which leads to...well, more leads. But only if your audience (and their audience, by extension) engages with your content.
Here's How to Increase Website Traffic With Social Media
1. Use trending hashtags
In case you're unfamiliar with the term, a hashstag is a pound sign. When used in social media, the term hashtag is used to denote a popular word or phrase that is gaining considerable traction (e.g., #WomensMarch, #KindnessIn5Words), or has already gained traction and is here to stay (#WednesdayWisdom, #LifeHacks).
You can find popular hashtags that are relevant to your business offerings in a variety of ways. The easiest way to find hashtags that pair well with your industry, topic, or mood is to use the Search bar of the social media site you are posting in.
Another way to find hashtags within a social media site is to set up your geographic defaults. For instance, Twitter displays top trending hashtags -- customized according to your city of choice -- in the left sidebar (see image to the right). Twitter is a very popular choice for hashtag usage, since hashtags give tweets a 16% boost in traffic and engagement.
There are also websites like Hashtagify.me that will help you discover the top 30 hashtags for the last 30 days.
You can also get ahead of the crowd and create content that leverages each day's hashtag trends by making a point to check out the National Day Calendar website. A quick glance at the site lets me know that yesterday was National Spouses Day. When I hop over to Twitter, I find a vibrant thread of shares from all manner of businesses seeking to leverage this theme. The U.S. Dept of Defense used the hashtag to critical, if not viral, acclaim. Well done!
Today, January 27th, is National Chocolate Cake Day. Tomorrow, January 28th, is National Blueberry Pancake Day. These would be terrific hashtags to leverage if you have a food related business, or if your business is known (or wants to be known) for creating content that is irreverent, light-hearted, or comical.
It's up to you how creative you'd like to get with hashtags. Just remember to always make sure they are relevant to your content and your business.
2. Ask for retweets and shares
It's so simple that it's often overlooked altogether, but the best way to get others to share your content is to ask. Studies show that simply asking for retweets (or “RTs”) is an effective way to boost shares and increase website traffic. Of course, you must have content that deserves to be shared. So again, make sure to be helpful and engaging to your core audience.
Don't feel like asking others to share your content? No problem. There's a social media hack just for you. All you have to do is mention others in your post. So who should you mention? The obvious answer is to include those who you have mentioned in your content. When you give them a heads up that you've leveraged their thought leadership in your content, a share is likely. Another way to leverage this social media hack is to mention the heavy hitters in your network, so long as they will benefit or find value from the inclusion.
3. Use images
People love images. In fact, posts that include pictures on Facebook get 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more clicks. Including an image in a Twitter post can get you 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets.
But will any image get you this much love? The answer is no if:
- you use stock images
- your images are not relevant to your content
- your images are of a lower quality
Twitter published a study of 2 million tweets to discover why some are retweeted and others aren't. The study showed that images receive a 35% increase in engagement. The same (or greater) level of increased engagement happens across all social media platforms, because people are attracted to images more than text.
4. Ask a question
It cannot be overstated that the most compelling, shareable social media outreach for business should add value to your audience. Asking a question flips the script, but in the best possible way.
Your audience is 21% more likely to engage with a question. Why? When you pose a question, you are asking your audience for their valuable opinions, advice, and expertise. This creates a strong sense of community and fosters goodwill toward your company. It shows your audience that your business cares about what they have to say.
There's another upside to asking questions that isn't directly related to likes, shares, and website traffic but is just as important for your company and that is: the answers you receive can inform your marketing decisions.
5. Use "How to" and list posts
Did you know that "how to" and list posts get 47% more social shares than other types of content? Here are several more metrics:
- List posts are the most popular and successful B2B content format; over 30% of the most shared B2B posts are list posts
- Practical ‘how to’ and ‘ways to’ posts account for over 10% of the most shared B2B posts
"How to" posts deliver actionable bites of information that help your audience become better in a particular area, or understand something better. As you can see from the example on the right, it's easy to put together a "how to" image post that provides your current and potential customers with useful content to help them use your products or services. In the same way, you can create image with text content, or just text content, that walks them through a particular activity or hack. It's always best to add data references, since posts that are backed by data get 100% more social shares.
All of us make and utilize lists. We create grocery lists, bucket lists, brainstorming lists, to do lists, inventory lists, task lists, event lists, mailing lists, and more. We like our lists. They keep us organized and moving forward, ideally.
So it's no surprise that lists are very popular on social media. They are shared often, and consistently outperform other types of content, because we are all trying to become more efficient at what we do, how we think, and why we do what we do. The image to the left shows a travel checklist that anyone can use to make the most of their pre-flight packing and preparations.
These days, everyone has a smartphone glued to them at all times. This reality accounts for the fact that a third of the world's population is engaged with social media. When you consider that this number will continue to rise, it's easy to see why you should make social media outreach a priority for your business.
- 73% share content because it helps them connect to people with similar interests
- 78% share information to stay in touch with people in their networks
Can't Find Time to Tweet?
If you are bogged down by administrative tasks, it can be hard to find time to tweet. If you're juggling your own scheduling and expense reports, you may not feel that posting on Facebook is the best use of your time. And when you have 40 business cards sitting on your desk from last night's networking event, your priority is to add everyone's contact information into your CRM not post cool images of the event on Instagram.
With all of your current tasks, it can be tough to justify spending time on social media. But if you understand the revenue generating importance of being active on social media, you'll quickly realize that hiring a cost-effective virtual assistant to take those administrative tasks off your plate is crucial.