Generating social media traffic to your website can be a wonderful way to spread the word about your business or cause, but how do you make sure you get the attention you deserve on crowded, noisy media like Facebook or Twitter? Is it worth the effort to write endless tweets? Is writing unique content for Facebook several times a day or week ever going to pay off in terms of traffic generated?
Getting Maximum Value from your social media efforts.
I manage a busy website/blog for a business I own in a completely different space from this site. The site is called Bowls Central and its purpose is to provide information and products to greenkeepers who maintain golf courses and bowling greens. As part of this work I write a lot of blog posts for the site, many of them longer form articles.
If you’re going to engage in a similar model for your business, craft or cause, I can highly recommend it as it has generated a great deal of interest for the work I do in that market. However, if you are going to spend the time, researching, drafting and refining long form pieces of writing with the intention of informing people about what you do, you really need to make sure you receive maximum value back for all of the time and effort you’re putting into it.
This is where Social Media can come in handy. Twitter and Facebook if used correctly can give you a quick traffic boost to your site, but what can you do to convert that into value for your business or cause?
First thing to say here, is you better make sure the content people land on after coming to you from Twitter is valuable to them and matches very precisely what you said it was going to do for them in your 140 character tweet. Otherwise you run the risk of annoying people and making them feel like their valuable time has been wasted.
Next, you need to have a strategy for generating the maximum value from as many of these interactions as possible. I don’t mean trying to sell them something directly, but if your tweet says “half price chocolate all day” then it’s perfectly OK to try to clinch a sale as soon as they arrive. Having said that, it’s unlikely that you’ll get any traffic by trying to promote sales directly on Twitter like this.
The value in the transaction is most likely to come from encouraging people visiting your site from Twitter to engage with you on a deeper level. This can be access to your members area, a free guide that entails them signing up to your mailing list or even a free guide that doesn’t require this, but which has content that will encourage further engagement of this kind down the line.
Is it what you say or how you say it that matters?
So much for how you can maximise the value of the traffic once it gets to your site, but what’s important in terms of generating traffic. One major consideration is of course what you’re going to say, but in my experience, even though the what is important, the how is invariably more so.
I could rattle on about the theory behind this, but maybe it’s best if I show you an example from my Bowls Central website I mentioned already.
Recently I published a fairly long article on my blog at Bowls Central to explain my observations on the occurrence of Annual Meadow Grass in golf and bowls greens and the negative effect this has on the performance of greens that are predominantly made up of meadowgrass (or Poa annua to give it its botanical name).
Now, if left to their own devices, greens would rarely be affected by this grass, but the finer, more desirable grasses are weakened by some of the maintenance practices used on greens such as inorganic fertilisers, pesticides and sand top-dressing. However, these practices are so firmly embedded as important and unmissable in greenkeeping, that it’s very difficult to change attitudes. And changing attitudes about this is exactly my intention. I have eBooks and physical products that I sell to a growing band of converts who generally say that they would never go back to the old ways due to the excellent results they are seeing with my methods.
After publishing the article, which uses a (clever?) trick in that it refers to a seemingly unrelated topic (I make the comparison between the growing success of Red Squirrels and my observations on growing fine grass greens) to attract attention to the article, I of course wanted as many people as possible to see and read it. With that in mind I started tweeting about it on Twitter.
Now, I often do this and I find that instead of taking a blunderbuss approach to tweeting about all and sundry, hoping for any level of attention, that it pays to be targeted. With this in mind I wrote 10 different tweets to be sent out phased across a whole Sunday. Here are screenshots of a few of those tweets as they went out on my Twitter account that day. See if you can guess which one did almost 400% better than the rest.
Well, you might think that the squirrel would get the vote here, but I’ve found that it doesn’t pay to try to be too clever in marketing and certainly doesn’t pay to confuse an already fraught and fleeting chance of engagement with your intended audience.
The one Tweet without a squirrel above, says something rather contentious as it not only challenges the efficacy of a much loved greenkeeping activity, but actually puts it in the spotlight as being potentially harmful to greens. It also happens to be true and observable; you shouldn’t just make stuff up to get a reaction!
Here are the results from the three tweets above.
The contentious tweet that got right to the point of the matter, served up a bit of a Twitter storm in comparison with most tweets in this particular subject area. Of the remaining 7 tweets I used for this campaign, the ones that showed a green and referred to top-dressing got the most attention. By comparison the ones with the squirrel performed very poorly. However, I received a lot of nice comments about how people liked the article and appreciated the broader ecological context I had included (the squirrels) to illustrate the point.
What’s this best used for?
Unless you’re from Coca-Cola and you’re offering a chance to win a trip to Disneyland with every can purchased online, then I wouldn’t try to generate a sale from this traffic.
Also don’t just use a contentious tweet to lure people to a bland clickbait style, or lightweight article or page where everything you need to know is essentially in the tweet.
I find it’s best if you draw attention to a powerful article with this and then put another, higher level of benefit in front of the reader once they are on your site. In my case I draw their attention to my free members area by including a clickable graphic that takes you to the sign up page at the end of every article. This way they can engage with me further, get more valuable content, but importantly they give me their email address and nothing more for this.
Then I can start to demonstrate my worth to them and hopefully make them not merely a customer, but an advocate for my business for the long term.
You can leave your thought/views on this article in the comments below.