Social Media Traffic
If you have not done so, it is recommended you read over Part 2 – Creating Viral Content first.
Welcome to the third and final module in the social media tutorial series. In this module, we are going to consider some of the different approaches that you have to adopt when working with the social networks that have been highlighted in the previous tutorials.
Let’s get straight into this…
Whilst the term ‘social media’ is widely used and recognized, there is in fact no single type of site that represents the genre. They are all different and the approach to adopt therefore differs too.
There are however some common requirements to understand about the best way of using social media as part of your online business armory.
One of the most important is that in all cases, these sites are meant to be places for social interaction. They are not designed as resources where you should shamelessly pitch your business or your products.
Do so and people will ignore you or even worse, ‘flag’ you as a possible spammer which tends to get your account canned.
Instead, what you have to do is add quality content to every social site no matter which site it is or what the real purpose of posting is.
For example, in the previous tutorial, I highlighted the idea of adding quizzes, lists and interesting images as ‘bait’ to pull people to your site.
Doing so works. It is also a tactic that social sites are very comfortable with because you are adding to the quality of the sites user experience.
Think of social sites as a door or gateway through which you have to convince the user to pass so that they can come to your site. All of the content that you post should be viewed in this light.
In the previous tutorial, we considered just how targeted the traffic is from social sites. Some sites will send traffic that is not so well targeted, but Twitter isn’t one of them!
In very simple terms, Twitter is a social site that allows you to share information with your contacts about what you are doing right at this moment in 140 characters or less. Given the limitation imposed by this, you must get to the point of your message immediately, hence the concept of micro-blogging.
The important thing to appreciate about using Twitter is that when you send information by posting to the site, the only people who will see that information are those who have already chosen to follow your updates.
Similarly, the only people who can send updates to your timeline are those that you have chosen to follow which gives you the ability to ‘filter’ incoming information to which you are subjected.
However, it is a fact that you can decide who will see the information that you post and who will not that is the key to incorporating Twitter in your marketing efforts successfully and profitably.
This enables you to send information to other Twitter users who are interested in your market or niche immediately, hence the concept of being to use this particular form of social media to attract super-targeted traffic to your site.
I guess that the description in the previous two or three chapters makes marketing using Twitter sound very easy. If so, this is not far from the truth.
However, the majority of marketers get it wrong from the very beginning because they don’t think about what they are going to do from the start.
This is a mistake you must avoid if you want to take advantage of what is undoubtedly one of the most effective social sites for pulling targeted visitors to your site or offer.
Signing up for Twitter is completely free and there is no limit on how many accounts you can have.
For this reason, your starting point is to open an account which exclusively targets just one business venture. For example, if you have half a dozen sites and products on offer, each should be tied to a different Twitter account.
However, in a scenario where you have several sites or products tightly bunched together in the same market (so that product A is of interest to people who have already bought product B etc.), you might use just one Twitter account.
In either case, the important thing is that you have a business account.
To open the account, you need to come up with a username, which is where many marketers make their first mistake.
Conventional online business wisdom suggests that when you create some kind of account for marketing purposes that you should include the keyword term in your username.
This might work elsewhere, but it tends to be far less effective with sites like Twitter for several reasons all of which are tied to the fact that this is a social site and not a business marketing portal.
Calling yourself ‘schutzhund dog training’ just looks silly even if this is a main keyword for your dog training site. It appears artificial and to anyone who knows anything about online business, it is an obvious marketing tactic.
And let’s be honest here. How can you expect anyone to take you seriously if you use a user name like that?
Simply put, try ‘standard’ keyword tactics like this with Twitter and you’ve blown your credibility even before you start.
Instead, open a new account with a real-sounding name. This could be your name or that of your business (the latter works better in a business scenario) but one way or another, forget using keywords in this respect.
Whether you use your real name or a ‘pen name’ is irrelevant as long as it sounds like you are a real person and not a marketing cipher.
Next, create a profile. Somewhat confusingly, you do this by clicking the ‘Settings’ link at the top of the page:
Then you click ‘Profile’ on the next screen and fill in the required information:
Start your profile set up by adding a suitable image. Whilst it might be tempting to use an avatar or a business logo, it should be an image of a real human being (remember – social site?). Whether it is really you or a stock image doesn’t matter as long as it is a human image that allows the reader of your Tweets to make a connection with a real person.
Add the URL of your site and a short biography. In this, mention your business but also other aspects of your life such as your hobbies, interests, family etc. This makes you more real and three-dimensional.
The final thing I would do is change the default Twitter background to make your homepage look more interesting for those who come visiting before they decide whether to follow you or not.
Changing the background also enables you to make far better use of your homepage space because backgrounds like these (free from Twitbacks) allow you to add more information in the sidebar:
With your page ready to go, there are two things that you need to start doing at the same time.
First, you need to start adding content to your page.
Okay, this is your business site so you are going to use it to get targeted visitors to visit your site. The way you do this however is not through pitching your site every time you post.
Instead, the way you effectively use Twitter is to send out links to stories and information about your market or niche, the majority of which are nothing to do with your site!
Instead, search Google (‘your topic + news’, ‘your topic + latest’ etc) for interesting, amusing or informative news stories that would be of interest to those in your niche.
Post a ‘Tweet’ to them using a tracking URL shortener like Bit.ly so you can keep an eye on what stories you post are the most popular. This allows you to see what other Twitter users in your niche like, thereby enabling you to bring more of the same to the table.
Maybe once every six or seven Tweets should point to your site and only when there is something new that others would be interested in. Do not for example send people to the same sales page over and over again because this will damage your credibility sooner or later.
Instead, set up a WordPress blog to which you can add constant updates which are automatically sent to your Twitter account using a free plug-in. In addition, add links to your site when there is anything of note that you want your followers to know about.
The second thing you need to do at the same time as starting to Tweet is build a list of niche focused followers. These are the people who will see your outgoing messages, so this is just as important as starting to add Tweets.
The basic idea here is that you find other site users in your niche and follow them. In return, the majority will reciprocate by following you.
You can find other Twitter users in your niche using a free search tool like Twitter search. Similarly, you can use the same tool to find people in your local neighborhood if your business is more localized than global:
When you run a search of this nature, you will usually find some of the ‘big names’ in your niche are already heavily involved in Twitter. Look at the people that are already following them and add them to your ‘to follow’ list as they are obviously interested in receiving the latest news from your market.
Your primary objective here is to find people who are talking about your topic so that you can follow them in the hope that they will return the favor. Other free Twitter tools that will help you are TweetBeep (like Google Alerts for Twitter) and Bing Tweets.
One other thing that will (perhaps strangely) help you build credibility with your followers is the ability to send the most interesting incoming Tweets to your followers via the Retweet utility:
This not only adds additional quality content to the information that you are sending to your followers, it also helps you to build a relationship with the original poster and it enhances the apparent value of your brand as well.
I would also suggest that you use a Twitter manager application such as Tweet Deck (a downloadable desktop utility) or Hoot Suite (Web-based) so that you can bring the most important incoming Tweets (e.g. from other users with who you regularly communicate via Twitter) to the fore.
The final resource to use within Twitter to get niche targeted information to your followers that they can use is the Direct Message utility. This allows you to send a direct private message to all of your followers any time you want.
However, you should be very wary of abusing this particular resource, reserving it only for the most important information or for stuff that you want to keep private.
For example, I have found that if you launch a new product, using the Direct Message utility is a great way of offering your followers an exclusive ‘early-bird’ discount. But don’t use Direct Messaging unless you have a very good reason to do so (and remember that this has to be a very good reason from your followers point of view, not yours).
Of all social media sites, I find that Twitter is the most effective for driving targeted traffic to my sites. It is therefore the social site upon which I would recommend you focus most attention.
As suggested earlier, the number-one requirement for getting any content on the homepage of social media sites is to post links to quality content, the stuff that people really want or need.
It could be ‘viral bait’ content as highlighted in the previous tutorial, up-to-the-minute controversial news, a post on your site where you challenge a big-name in your niche or even a scenario where you break a story that no-one has picked up on yet.
Adding information about any of these would give you a fighting chance of getting on the homepage of a major social media site, in which case you can stand aside as the traffic pours in.
Nevertheless, if you are not ‘baiting’ as suggested previously, what you should do to give your story the greatest chance of achieving homepage success is to look at the kind of content that the various social sites feature.
To use an example, Digg community members tend to favor technology based information and stories, so this is the kind of stuff that you should be thinking of weaving in to your marketing efforts. Perhaps surprisingly, it is possible to do so with a little creative thinking almost irrespective of your site subject matter or topic.
For instance, say that your main site theme is blogging. Okay, there’s nothing especially exciting technological about blogging but this should not mean that you choose to ignore such a major player as Digg.
Instead, as an example, how about creating a story (based on what you can pick up from reading elsewhere) that focuses on how much easier it is to blog using a Mac iPad (still pretty new at the time of writing) than it is using a traditional PC or Mac?
The iPad is still massive news and Internet users all over the world are desperate to read about it. At the same time, all of the information you would need to put together a story like this is already available if you hunt around for it so creating a story that is ‘hot’ is really not that difficult.
Sometimes even the best or most exciting content is not enough.
For instance, you might break what you think is a major ‘scoop’ on a day when some other news totally dominates the headlines. Can you for example imagine trying to grab a home page slot on the social sites the day the news about Michael Jackson dying hit the headlines?
In this case, you’re going to need help if you realistically expect to get your information on the homepage. One easy way of doing this is to ask a group of buddies to help you by giving your story a ‘thumbs up’ because you need surprisingly few approvals to get the ball rolling.
However, the key to the effectiveness of this is that it has to happen quickly. In my experience, if you are going to get your post or information added to the site homepage, it has to happen within the first 24 hours because otherwise, it is not going to happen at all.
Another strategy that will help to push your story up the ranking is to start commenting on the story as soon as it is added to the site. Many Digg enthusiasts use the Big Spy page to see what is popular at the moment and comments as well as positive ‘Diggs’ help to get your story on there:
In this screenshot, the red numbers are the number of Diggs that these stories already have. As you can see, at the top there is a story with 12 and at the bottom one with 16, indicating that you do not need too many Diggs to start getting some traction.
Another thing that you should do is make as many friends through every social media site as you can. Whereas this is obligatory with some sites if you want to get any advantage from using them (e.g. Twitter), you do not need to befriend other Digg users for example. It helps if you do however.
Start by searching the site for the most popular (‘dugg’) stories over the past thirty days (which ensures that these are active ‘diggers’):
Click the comment link beneath each of the entries (as highlighted above) and you will see the posters link on the right-hand side of the next page, with a ‘Friend’ request link directly beneath it:
The more friends you have, the more people are going to see your posts and therefore the chance of grabbing the all-important Diggs is significantly increased. But remember that this is a game of reciprocation.
If you Digg their story beforehand and continue to do so with their new stuff, it becomes far more likely that they will help you out in the future as well.
One final Digg ‘trick’ that very few people are aware of or take advantage of.
This is to time your submission correctly because Digg Trends research indicates that the most effective time to Digg your story is at or just after 9.00 (am) EST which is the time when many office workers arrive at their desk and turn Digg on.
Getting your timing right can make a surprisingly big difference to the success of your social submissions, especially with Digg. This is therefore something you should not ignore.
With this site, you open your account (once again, I would recommend separating your personal account from one that is targeting business) although with Facebook, you should definitely stick to using a real person’s name because of all social sites, Facebook users tend to be the most ‘anti-business’.
In many ways, using Facebook to push your business forward is very similar to using Twitter except it does not operate in real-time.
For example, it is absolutely imperative with Facebook that you build relationships with other users before you even begin to think about mentioning your business activities.
Nevertheless, it is possible to connect with others in your niche in a few different ways and once you have done so, the risk of upsetting people is minimal. This is particularly true as long as you continue to provide a mass of top-quality information for free whilst only highlighting your business activities when there is a solid reason for doing so.
To find people in your niche, type your main keyword description phrase into the search box at the top of the page:
Whatever the term you use, the results in the first drop-down box you see (as highlighted) is likely to list Facebook groups for this topic.
Sometimes these groups will be appropriate to what you’re trying to do if they are likely to be groupings of enthusiasts (as in the previous example) whereas at other times, this is less likely.
For example, if you look at ‘internet marketing’ groups with a view to selling your own Internet marketing products or services, most of the existing groups are owned by other marketers who are doing exactly the same.
In this case therefore, you would be joining a group run by a competitor which might be good in terms of market research but probably little use in terms of sales.
However, if you click the ‘See more results’ link at the bottom of the drop-down menu, you will (eventually) see results for individuals who are interested in your niche market topic. These would of course be the people to invite as friends.
Another option is of course to start your own group (which you can only do as an individual), but you need to have established some credibility and authority before doing so. Alternatively, if you want to feature your business on Facebook, creating a ‘page’ is more appropriate than a group.
Whichever way you do it, using Facebook enables you to connect with lots of like-minded individuals who represent a superb bank of potential prospects for your rights or services.
Even so, never forget that with Facebook in particular, marketing must always be ‘gently, gently’…
To submit information about your site to social media resources, you must have an account with them. The first thing that you must therefore do is open accounts with the social sites to which you want to submit information.
After this, you can then submit information about new content that you have added to your site (or indeed, content that you have added elsewhere like article directories, YouTube etc) and of course, you could do this manually.
However, the quickest and easiest way is to use an automated mass submitter like Social Marker. This site enables you to submit information about your content to all the 40 social media sites with one push of the button:
This makes submitting information to the main social sites extremely easy. However, you do need to be a little careful when you do so in order to avoid being seen as a ‘social site spammer’.
The only time that you should submit information to all of the sites served by Social Marker is the very first time your site is published.
Thereafter, choose half a dozen of the sites listed to submit information to about every subsequent post or content added to your site, selecting sites at random.
Some marketers also create several different accounts so that they can submit information about content from their site and about their articles and videos on external sites with different submission information attached.
Another option if you have a WordPress blog is to install a couple of plugins that will enable your blog to be posted automatically to social sites using the free services of OnlyWire.com (which is similar to Social Marker).
In the three modules in this social media tutorial series, we have a covered a lot of ground and you should now have a clear idea of how you can incorporate social media into your online marketing efforts.
As suggested several times, utilizing social media effectively is all about adopting a gently-gently approach, about building relationships and then marketing on the back of them.
But when it is done properly, including social media in your marketing efforts is tremendously effective and if it is not something you are currently doing, you should get started straight away.