Want to increase your website’s social media referral traffic?
You’ll love this guest post from Spela Grasic of Cheeky Monkey Media. Read on!
Over the past year, we’ve seen a huge increase in social media referral traffic to our website. In this blog post, I’m going to share our results with you, and then tell you how we did it so that you can implement our tactics in your own strategy. Does that work for you?
If you’d prefer to get right to the How-To portion, feel free to skip right this first section where I get ridiculously excited about our results.
So, what do I mean by dramatic results? Let’s start by looking at Facebook.
We increased referral traffic from Facebook by more than 700%
If we compare the increase in referral traffic month by month July to December 2016 to the same period in 2015, we see a 731.73% average increase in referral traffic from Facebook.
This referral traffic was what I would consider “quality” traffic:
- The bounce rate for this segment decreased an average of 51.73%
- The average number of pages visited per session for this segment was 1.9 in 2016, slightly less than the average for the previous year, but still above the average for all users.
- This segment spent an average of 1 minute and 56 seconds on the website, which is 7 seconds higher than the same period 2015.
We did do some paid Facebook advertising.
While we did do some paid Facebook advertising in July 2016 and August 2016 (when referral traffic increased by 950% and 3900% respectively compared to 2015), November and December also both saw significant increases in referral traffic (77.78% and 126.32% respectively).
September 2016 also saw a huge increase in referral traffic compared to September 2015; however, I suspect that some of that was caused by the trickle down effect of the paid promotions we did during the summer.
We increased referral traffic from Twitter by 250%
If we compare the increase in referral traffic month by month July to December 2016 to the same period in 2015, we see a 250% average increase in referral traffic from Twitter.
This referral traffic was what I would consider “quality” traffic:
- The bounce rate for this segment decreased an average of 51.93%
- The average number of pages per visited per session for this segment was 2.11 in 2016, which is an 11.64% improvement over the average for the same period in 2015.
- This segment spent an average of 3 minutes and 4 seconds on the website, which is 1 minute and 33 seconds more than the average for the same time period in 2015, and a 22.67% improvement.
We increased referral traffic from LinkedIn by more than 850%
If we compare the increase in referral traffic month by month July to December 2016 to the same period in 2015, we see a 873.95% average increase in referral traffic from Linkedin.
This referral traffic was what I would consider “quality” traffic:
- The bounce rate for this segment decreased an average of 64.10%
- The average number of pages visited per session for this segment was 2.74 in 2016, which is well above the average for all users and slightly higher than the average for the same time period in 2015.
- This segment spent an average of 2 minutes and 26 seconds on the website, which is a bit less than the previous year, but still a number I’m happy with because it gives users time to look around.
We did not do any paid advertising.
We didn’t commit any financial resources to our LinkedIn posts this year; however, given how successful we were in increasing referral traffic and the quality of traffic, paid LinkedIn advertising may be a strategy to pursue in the future.
That’s nice and all, but how do I get those kinds of results? Well, let me tell you.
How You Can Increase Quality Social Media Referral Traffic Too.
We were able to get these results by spending about 10 hours a week on social media and another 5 or so hours on design and image optimization. Yes, optimizing your social media images is important!
That said, we also did a lot of preliminary work and put a lot of time and effort into creating content that we could share on our social media accounts, which is not included in that 10 hours a week number.
Side note on optimizing images:
If you haven’t been optimizing your image size for each platform up to this point, don’t spend hours going back and resizing all your images. I didn’t. That said, make it a practice to do so going forward. It’s worth it. Seriously.
1. Get to Know Your Audience
I can’t believe how many times I’ve written that down. It’s been said time and time again. The first step to any marketing plan or strategy, is know your target audience. You can do this a number of different ways. My favorite is creating buyer personas and talking with our sales and customer service teams.
I know strategy works because if I look at the analytics for Cheeky Monkey’s accounts, I can see that:
- Individuals engaging with us on Twitter tend to be in the income bracket that we would expect for someone that can make decisions about purchasing web development, design, and marketing services.
- Similarly, our LinkedIn visitors are in senior or managerial positions, that is, decision makers who may be interested in our services.
It comes down to this: It doesn’t matter how you do it, just make sure you get to know your audience. End of story.
2. Be Selective When Choosing Social Media Platforms to Prioritize
With so many social media platforms out there, it’s really tempting to try to be on all of them. Don’t give in to the temptation. You want to focus on the platform with the highest ROI. This doesn’t necessarily mean the platform with the most buzz.
Rather, you want to focus on:
- The platform or platforms that your target audience spends most of their time on.
- The platform or platforms where your content gets the most engagement.
- The platform or platforms that have a higher conversion rate, whatever conversions might look like to you. For example, a conversion could be a new lead, a newspaper sign-up, or a donation.
In the end, no matter how many platforms you choose to focus on, whether it’s 1 or 5, make sure you have the resources available to post and engage consistently.
At Cheeky Monkey Media, our social media efforts focus on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We focus on these because:
- It’s where our target audience hangs out.
- We only have so many resources to devote to social media.
Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.
3. Make Sure Your Profiles are on Brand and Consistent
Once you’ve decided which social media platforms you’re going to focus on, you need to make sure that each and every one of your profiles is fully filled out, on brand, and consistent across the board.
Here’s what I mean:
LinkedIn (based on the old LinkedIn company page):
As you can see, our profile pages don’t look exactly the same, but, they are consistent and recognizable as part of the Cheeky Monkey Media brand.
4. Connect with Influencers
Make a list of the influencers in your sector. These to not have to be the biggest names in your industry. They can be micro influencers. For example, I include guys like Rand Fishkin from Moz, one of the biggest names in SEO, on my list. Rand’s awesome and responded to the email I sent him. However, I had more success reaching a larger audience and creating relationships when I interacted with smaller names on my list.
Once you have this list make sure you interact with them:
- Follow them with your social media accounts.
- Ask them questions.
- Share their content.
- Include them in your blog posts as resources, let them know via email that you link to them, and give them credit in your social media posts.
- Really like something they say? Call them out on! Highlight that awesome-ness with fancy visuals.
5. Be Ready with Killer Content
You aren’t going to get far if you aren’t ‘social’ on social (step 6) and curating great content (step 7), but you can’t forget the importance of creating and sharing your own valuable content and information.
Creating and sharing your own content will help you position yourself as an expert and/or valued resource in your area.
Now, I don’t mean that you should create multiple blogs, videos, infographics, and interactive games a day. There’s an oversaturation of content as is.
Ask your audience and your team what type of content they need and create
You do need to participate in the conversation with informative and engaging content.
My favorite way to do this is to talk to the sales team at Cheeky and see what kinds of questions prospective clients are asking.
Then, I write the most informative blog possible on that topic. It’s a win, win. I know I’m writing content that matters to our target audience right now, and I able to provide the sales team with valuable content.
Use Secondary Sources and Acknowledge Them
At Cheeky, our blogs have to be at least 900-1200 words long, and they have to include at least 5 external links.
There are three reasons for this:
- One, I don’t want us talking at the world, I want us participating in and contributing to a greater conversation.
- Two, let’s be honest, we didn’t come up with all this information. Credit needs to be given where credit is due. And, than there’s all those years of post secondary education and graduate school that made me a bit of stickler for proper citation.
- Using and acknowledging other people’s work gives you a chance to reach out to those individuals, get their feedback, build a relationship, and maybe even increase your reach.
6. Talk to People! It’s Called Social Media For a Reason
You don’t have to have marathon conversations, but it’s always a good idea to thank people for sharing or retweeting your posts and asking questions.
Even exchanging a series of GIFs counts as a social exchange. My favorite social conversations on the Cheeky Twitter account were with a reporter in Ontario and the team at Buffer.
Here’s an example from my chat with the team at Buffer:
7. Curate Content. I’m Sure You’re Awesome, But …
You’re probably one of the coolest people ever, and the organization you work for probably kicks some serious a$$.
But, there’s a couple things you need to know about social:
- It’s not all about you (or your organization). I know, it sucks.
- You don’t have to do it alone. Yay!
Share information from your favorite blogs, news sites, and influencers. Better yet, share content from your clients and supporters.
Use places like Buzzsumo or CRATE to find other content in your niche. This not only saves you and your team from creating that content, it also, again, shows that you are participating in part of a larger conversation.
Use the 80/20 Rule
When curating content, try to strike a balance.
8. Schedule: There’s No Shame in Using a Social Media Management System
When I started at Cheeky, I was strongly against using social media management tools. For starters, Scott Stratten, the co-author of UnMarketing and the co-host of the UnPodcast, the guy who got me excited about marketing, is not a fan. And then there’s that whole thing about Facebook’s algorithm frowning on automated posts.
But, then I realized that if I wanted to post twice a day on Facebook, ten times a day on Twitter, and once a day on LinkedIn, and get the rest of my internal and client work done, I was going to have to concede complete and total control. Sigh.
Don’t completely automate though!
That said, don’t completely automate your social media communications. Review your notifications at least daily and respond to those who comment, respond, or retweet personally. If you would like to acknowledge new followers (which is a great strategy when you are just starting to grow your follower base), personalize that interaction.
9. Keep Iterating
Once you find a strategy that works, make that your core strategy. That said, don’t stop trying new things. You can test everything from posting slightly different content, to posting more video, to posting more or less times in a day. Really, the list is endless.
My recommendation is to test one or two small changes for a week or 2, review your results, and then decide if the test is worth implementing or pursuing further, or, if you’re better off trying something else.
A Few Last Thoughts
As I wrote this post, one question kept nagging at me. Was there one strategy that made the biggest difference? I don’t think so.
While the biggest increase in engagement seemed to correlate with the push to ‘tag’ micro influencers, our followers, and potential followers, and the commitment to consistent and frequent publishing, I couldn’t have taken these steps if we hadn’t taken the time to get to know our target audience and produce valuable content.
Thus, I would argue that you need to apply all of these tactics to your social media strategy in order to see significant improvements.
At the end of the day, like with all things in life, you’re only going to get as much out of it (your social media platforms) as you put into it. That doesn’t mean spending all of your time on social, but it does mean taking the time to do it right.
Finally, note that social media isn’t just about social media. For example, that point about creating valuable content that uses qualified secondary sources that you can tag in your social media communications …? That step also opens up doors to link building and contributes to your SEO strategy, but that, folks, is a whole other blog post.
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