Running a website can often feel like you're juggling about ten different balls in the air trying to keep everything afloat.
There are so many moving parts to having a website that it can sometimes feel like you're always "working" but not always seeing results. For most websites, the goal is to generate traffic and increase sales of a product or service. This goal is quantifiable and possible to achieve...so long as you go about it systematically.
Depending on which "expert" you listen to, they will tell you that to increase traffic to your website you have to do more of one thing. They might tell you to focus your efforts on social media, email marketing, networking at industry events, content creation, etc. All of those strategies are valid but by trying to do everything at once, you'll spread yourself too thin and won't see any results.
- Should social media growth be the focus of every business?
- Expert Roundup: Using social media to support your website
Today's article is focused on how to use social media to drive traffic back to your website. The rest of the topics listed above? Those are for another day, my friend.
I've also created a FREE checklist that will show you exactly how to use social media to drive traffic back to your website. Just click the button below to get that delivered straight to your inbox!
The relationship between websites and social media
Every business gets its authority from it's website which is why the goal of all your efforts should be to drive traffic back to your website.
Site traffic matters -- a lot, and here's why. Your website is where you establish your identity, announce what you offer and who you are. It's also the place where you can fully control what you put out publicly (or privately, if you have private pages or a membership site) since you fully OWN the platform.
Think of it this way: having a website is like owning a home- it is a place on the internet that belongs to you and only you. Social media, on the flip side, is more like renting an apartment in a nice building. Someone else owns it and even though it looks pretty and meets your needs, you could be evicted at any time or the building could be sold or demolished and you might have to move at a moment's notice. It could also fall under new property management who might change all the rules of what you can and cannot do in the unit which might not work with how you live your life.
Social media is a phenomenal way to connect with your audience and prospective followers on the platform that they prefer, but to use social media effectively you should always try to drive those followers back to your website.
Tip: Squarespace Analytics will give you an excellent overview of where traffic to your website is coming from and what visitors are doing when they arrive to your site.
Evaluating traffic from different social media sources
Each social media platform will convert traffic to your website in different ways so it's important to understand what this means before you tinker with your social media strategy.
People who hang out on one social media platform will be different from those who hang out on another, and therefore are looking to get different things out of their interaction with your account depending on the platform.
Another way to think of it: different audience have particular behaviours. This could be dedicated followers, people who stumble across your content, total newbies to your industry, etc. As such, you'll want to tailor what and how you post on social media to speak to your audience as effectively as possible, depending on the platform.
Here's a very quick outline of what you can expect from the four major social media platforms:
- Instagram : Instagram underwent a major change to it's algorithm not long ago and now the content displayed to the user follows the Facebook model : users are served content which they interact with most frequently (accounts or posts), no longer just a chronological dump. As such, the organic reach on this platform is lower than before but if people like you, they'll tend to follow along closely. This platform tends to skew to a younger demographic.
- Pinterest : Pinterest is basically a visual search engine so a lot of people will land on your content without knowing you. It's a great way for people to discover you and as such Pinterest leads to a lot of new users who may or may not stick around. The trick is to let them "find" you and then hook them into being a repeat visitor to your site.
- Facebook : Facebook users are statistically more engaged and the data shows that people spend significantly more time on a particular page. There are a lot of returning visitors since people "know" you and want to follow you. The trend for this audience is increasingly on mobile devices. It's also increasing in popularity as a live video platform and it's one of the few social media platforms that nearly every demographic is on.
- Twitter : Most people on Twitter "know" you since they have decided to follow you however a lot of people could find you through hashtags or tagging. They're mostly skimming through lots of content during their session, usually looking at content "in real time". This platform has a lot of returning audiences who have an idea of who you and and what content you share and are interested in coming back to check in. People on Twitter really are looking to join the conversation and engage.
Now that you have a better understanding of the major social media platforms and the type of audiences each one attracts, let's take a look at ways you can get your social media audience over to your website.
Getting traffic from social media over to your website
1. Be a tease
Have you ever heard the saying "leave them wanting more"? This is exactly the strategy you should use on social media to get people to hop over to your website for the full monty. If you give them everything on social media, your followers won't have any incentive to visit your website so it's super important to only share a little preview.
This applies to both visual and written content:
- Instead of posting a photo of the entire product, show only a section so that people will have to go to your website to see the whole thing
- Don't write out your full blog post. Instead, write a quick summary or else share an excerpt. Again, people can get the full content by visiting your site so it's okay to hold out
On Instagram, for example, you could share a beautiful photo with an engaging caption that reels your audience in and then tells them to visit your site (through the link in your profile) to get the full guide/post/product details/service offering/whatever.
On Facebook, you could host a quick Facebook Live video that covers part of the topic of your blog post/product/service. From there, instruct your followers to click through to your website (be sure to share the specific link) for the entire thing.
If you use Snapchat in your business, you could share "behind the scenes" prep or a quick teaser with you or a member of your team before the content goes live, and then hop back on to remind people when it's available.
Tip : Having a blog on your website is one of the best things you can do for your business since it allows you to create content that can then be shared across social media with your audience.
Another great strategy is to use social media to drive traffic not only back to your website but specifically to your email newsletter sign up. You could post a picture on Instagram with an excerpt of exclusive newsletter content in the caption and let people know that when they sign up to your newsletter, they get the full thing plus a whole lot more. The data shows that people who are subscribed to your newsletter will follow you a whole lot closer than people who passively follow you on social media. From personal experience, I can confirm that this is true.
2. Create content that addresses your audience's interests
One of the greatest ways to get your social media followers over to your website is by creating content that your audience (current and potential) will actually enjoy.
This isn't as hard as you might think, either.
If you're totally stumped, the easiest way to get ideas for content that interests your audience is to ask for it. Send out a simple call for help and say "What are the 3 things you're struggling the most with right now?". Compile the answers and get to work creating content on those topics.
Next up, be sure to take a look at what type of content is popular on your website and see what they all have in common. Perhaps you're famous for your in-depth how-to guides or your video tutorials. Make more of those! If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Another thing you can do is to keep you eye out for recurring questions or complaints/struggles. If you see the same thing coming up more than once, you know there's interest in that topic even if your audience hasn't explicitly asked for it. Don't wait for someone to ask for it, just do it and people will be thrilled that you are reading their mind. Looking for ideas or examples? Look at the comments on your blog posts or take a quick scan of Facebook posts or Twitter conversations.
Basically you want to tap into what your audience is interested in or wants to learn more about, and then you create the content to address their needs. From here, promote the heck out of it on social media to drive traffic back to your website!
3. Don't be afraid of self-promotion or call-to-action's
When I started my business, I was SO hesitant to share my work on social media. I honestly don't know why but this hang-up was something I had to get over and ultimately I did and my business is better off for it.
Here's the thing: your social media followers have actively chosen to follow your account because they like you/your business and are interested in the products/services you offer. Especially if you're a business or for-profit account, they know you have something to sell or promote and they will expect to see that come up in your content. It's OK to mention your website, a new product or service, recently published blog posts, whatever.
Now that you have permission to include that type of content on your social media channel, you need to get strategic with your call-to-actions. Be explicit with what you say.
For example, you might finish every pin description on Pinterest by saying "Click through to read now or pin and save for later!".
On Instagram, you could end your caption with something like "Click the link in my bio or go to www.YOURWEBSITEURL.com to read the full article on the cutest cat memes on the internet!"
See where I'm going with this? Your call-to-actions should always drive your audience over to your site and don't be afraid to give direction. When you tell someone to do something, very often they will oblige if it is something that interests them and it's done nicely .
That being said, be transparent and honest with your audience about what they can expect when they click over to your website. They shouldn't be surprised when they get there.
Social media is a powerful way to drive traffic back to your website and once you get creative and strategic with it, you'll see results in no time.
If social media management is something you struggle with, I suggest using a scheduling tool since they're honestly lifesavers!
Your goal should be to build an audience on the social media platforms that your audience hangs out on and from there, bring them back over to your website where you can promote your products or services. I have a lot of email newsletter opt-ins on my website because I really enjoy communicating with my audience on an even more personal level and a bunch of those followers found me through social media.
Remember, quality over quantity is a good rule to follow when it comes to social media posting and consistency is KEY! Stay active (whatever you decide that means for you) and interact with your audience to strengthen the bond and consistently drive traffic back to your website.
Don't forget that I've created a FREE checklist that will help you drive traffic from social media to your website. You can grab that below!
Now it's your turn to tell me how you use social media to drive traffic to your website? What strategies do you use and what have you found effective in the past? Is this totally new to you and if so, what was your biggest takeaway from this article? I'd love to know so leave me a note in the comments!
Interested in learning more about what it takes to get a website up and running? My free 7 day e-course will walk you through everything you need to know. Sign up for it today!