As a new small business owner, it’s likely that one of the first things you did after buying your domain name was create a Facebook account. Why is that? Social media is, for better or worse, ingrained in our culture. It’s how we read the news, catch up with friends, and, fortunately for you, decide which products we are going to buy. The images and endorsements we see on social media vastly influence our purchasing decisions. In fact, 74 percent of consumers say they are influenced by what they see as they scroll. Social media is an incredible tool that you have at your disposal to help you accomplish a number of business goals, one of the biggest being increasing traffic to your site. After all, according to Forbes, 31 percent of all referral traffic now comes from social media, meaning it’s not an area you can afford to slack off in. In this post, we’ll share 6 keys for using social media to drive website traffic and how to get started right away.

Why social media is critical for your small business

In a report by Social Media Examiner, 92 percent of small business owners said that social media was very important to their business. These entrepreneurs who have learned to use social networking to their advantage have internalized a critical key of good marketing – go where your customers are. There are nearly 2.5 billion social media users worldwide, which means 2.5 billion potential customers for you to connect with – but you have to know how to utilize social media effectively for it to be worth the investment.

Social media allows you the opportunity to build a loyal community, increase brand recognition, and grow your customer base, but this type of good social networking takes consistent effort and focused goals. One of the biggest missteps a small business can make when taking the leap into social media marketing is trying to do everything all at once. Everyone can and should use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but there are also more niche channels you can use to accomplish different goals:

  • Tumblr – save images that fit your brand aesthetic and improve brand recognition
  • Pinterest – sharing infographics, product photos and videos, and other visual content from your site to grow traffic
  • Reddit – to position yourself as a thought leader and encourage dialogue among your audience members
  • Snapchat – to let your audience see the human, behind-the-scenes side of your company, and to share funny, relatable content your users will love

So how do you decide which platforms are right for your business? It’s impossible to use all of them if you’re doing social media well, so the key is to know where your customers are, what your goals for social media are, and then use the channels that live at the intersection of those two things.

The first key to deciding which social media channels to invest your time and energy into is examining the user base of each channel against your target buyer persona. For example, if most Pinterest users are middle-aged women and your buyer persona is an 18-year-old man, your efforts will likely be better spent on another channel. Thinking through your target social media prospects and what potential prospects live on each site can save you a lot of time, money, and energy down the road.

The importance of setting engagement goals

Just like with any new business endeavor, goal setting is critical to measure the success of your social media marketing efforts. Using metrics helps you to understand what’s working and what’s not, so you can focus your efforts on the platforms and content that offer a higher return on investment (ROI). Metrics also help you stay focused on what’s actually important to your overall business strategy. If the end goal of your social media campaign is to gain 5,000 new Twitter followers during December, keeping this in the forefront of your mind with everything you do on Twitter will be crucial, because it’s easy to get distracted with other flashy metrics, such as page views and link clicks. Those things may be a healthy sign that your social media efforts are performing well, but at the end of the day, it’s your followers you should be focusing on.

Your social media goal could be a variety of things, depending on the maturity of your business and what you’re hoping to get out of social media. For example, you could aim to increase your follower count by a certain number over the quarter, or you could aim to increase your social referral traffic by x% in 2019. Whatever metric you choose, be sure all of your strategy points back to that end goal.

There are lots of things you can measure, but for the sake of this post, we’re going to focus on how to use social media to increase your referral traffic.

6 steps to increase your website traffic with social media

1. Optimize your profile’s SEO

If a user likes a post on Facebook or another social networking site and wants to learn more about you, the next step they’ll likely take is to click on your profile. All of your social media profiles across channels should match your brand, and that goes for colors, tone of voice, and imagery as well. Ensure that your site’s web address is in your bio and your About sections on each of your channels so customers can easily learn more about you, and establish credible backlinks to your site. In addition, be sure to fill out your bio and About sections completely with information about your company and mission. Don’t forget to use relevant keywords and hashtags, if applicable, so users who are searching for keywords related to you will be able to easily find your content.

2. Post when your key demographics are online

The nature of social media is that it moves quickly. If you’re scheduling social media posts for a time when your audience isn’t active, your posts will quickly get buried under other content and your target customers will miss them altogether. Use your social networks’ built-in analytics tools or an external tool like Follerwonk to determine your target audience’s “peak time” so you can be sure you’re scheduling posts for when your audience is most likely to be active.

3. Share (and re-share) your blog content

Creating good content takes lots of time, and it can be disappointing, not to mention discouraging, to spend several hours creating an awesome post or video only to have a few people see it. Social media is the perfect way to resurrect old content and get fresh eyeballs on pieces that are still relevant that you may have created several months ago. According to Charlotte Day, sites that create 15 new pieces of content and consistently share those pieces across their channels earn an average of 1,200 new leads every month – that’s a lot of opportunity waiting for you simply by promoting your content on social media.

You can use Google Analytics to easily see which of your posts are most popular and which are driving the most traffic so you can share those pieces more often. And, don’t forget to link back to old posts in new content you create.

4. Design your content to be shareable

The more a post is shared, the more often it appears in users’ news feeds and timelines. This is because social media algorithms want to serve up popular content to users to keep them on the site. And, if a user sees that their friend has shared or liked a post, they’re more willing to engage with the content themselves. According to Social Marketing Writing, 41 percent of people measure the success of a blog post by how many times it was shared. Higher share numbers increase your domain authority and boost your search engine rankings. Make your content easy for your followers to share by installing social media plugins that allow users to quickly share your posts with their followers. The easier you make sharing, the more likely it is that users will follow through.

5. Interact with your audience

One of the ways social media is unique in its function as a marketing tool is its ability to start a dialogue. Because customers and prospects have the ability to comment, ask questions, and interact with you directly on channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, social media can be used to show your audience the human side of your business. According to Sprout Social, only 11 percent of users receive replies when they interact with brands on social media, so consistently engaging will help you easily stand out from the crowd and built brand loyalty. Here are a few ways you can easily engage with your audience on any channel:

  • Participate in Twitter chats
  • Respond to tweets and mentions
  • Use hashtags and follow relevant hashtags for your industry
  • Contribute to forum discussions

6. Share visual content

Visual content like photos, infographics, and videos are 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other non-visual pieces of content. If your marketing team produces anything visual for your blog posts, be it header photos, an infographic, charts, or cartoons, be sure to use those images in your social media promotion. Tweets with images get 150 percent more retweets than tweets with no image, according to Buffer, so use imagery to your advantage.

Of course, one of the best channels for promoting visual content is Instagram. You can share product photography, Q&A videos, and demos on Instagram much more easily than on other social channels, and because customers are much more likely to make a purchasing decision when they can see a product in action, Instagram can be a great sales tool, if used strategically.

Master the art of social media marketing

Social media channels can be a great way to interact with your audience on a more personal level. By conducting customer and competitor analyses, you’ll be able to tell exactly which channels your prospects, and the competition, are most likely to be so you can focus your efforts on creating engaging content specifically for those formats. Whatever you do, don’t try to do everything all at once, pick a few channels that fit your target demographic and do those really well before you branch out – even using one channel effectively can have a much greater impact than a half-effort on three. Don’t let common social media problems get in the way. Be aware of them from the beginning and nip them in the bud. And, as with all content creation, be sure you optimize your Calls to Action so customers know exactly what they should do next, be it visiting your site, tagging their friends, or giving feedback on a potential new product.

Ready to get up and running with social media marketing but feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the tasks you have on your plate? We’ve got you covered. Big Leap has helped tons of businesses like yours optimize their social media to increase website traffic, earn new prospects, and reach their marketing metrics. Schedule your free Big Leap Social Media consultation today.