Top of the Funnel: How to Drive Traffic with Social Media

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top of the funnel, use social media to drive traffic

Social media is changing all the time, and I’m as guilty as anyone for chattering on about the new stuff (see here, and here, and here) and forgetting about the classics. Snapchat and Instagram might encourage engagement beyond anything we’ve seen so far, but they definitely aren’t driving traffic to your site. And if you’ve invested valuable time and money in a content strategy (like we have!) then you need to drive traffic.

Social media is the perfect top-of-the-funnel channel. A recent survey shows 30% of Canadians use LinkedIn, 25% use Twitter, and a whopping 60% use Facebook – that’s 21 million people!  For publishers, Facebook now drives more traffic than Google does, so a social strategy is absolutely essential (in addition to a great newsletter, top-notch SEO, and if you’re really sophisticated, drip campaigns).

Most brands have a hard time prioritizing goals on social media. Are likes or clicks more valuable? What about followers? You can’t acquire engagement without creating a community, but how do you work towards multiple goals? How do you target multiple personas?

If you’re reading this post, your top goal is to drive traffic. So that means using the classics – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest – to promote the content on your website. Here’s how to do it.

Community comes first

Regardless of your social media goals, nothing can be accomplished without creating a community. That community is what will foster engagement, conversation, clicks, and shares. So how to build a community?

I like to go by a two-pronged approach of community engagement.

  1.  like-minded individuals, influencers, brands, and organizations
  2. potential customers

Community management tends to fall low on the priority list of a social media manager, but it’s as essential when you’re maintaining a mature community as well as growing a new one. As someone whose job title is Community Engagement Manager, I can tell you even I only spend a small amount of time actually managing the communities.

I like to set a recurring appointment in my calendar that rotates through my various clients, so I know time will be allocated to each account on a regular basis. So do that. Then, do some research to identify influencers for your industry that you can follow and engage with. Search hashtags that are relevant to your business and follow accounts that cover those topics. Find organizations and people that are aligned with your products and values. Then, like, retweet, respond, share, repin, and comment on the content coming from those accounts, when it’s relevant and when it makes sense.

Those likes, retweets, and comments are what really build relationships. Keep it personal. Be thoughtful. Be authentic. When engaging an influencer, make it about them – they’ll be more likely to respond.

Clickable social content

Once you’ve managed your community for the week, you’re ready to create social content. When you’re looking for clicks, you need your content to be both visible and engaging.

Firstly, listen to your community. Monitor your analytics by channel – each platform is different and therefore your audience preferences will also vary across platforms. Experiment. Try to identify trends for times, days, and types of content. Use different hashtags to join various conversations. Use A/B tests.

Dedicate time to getting the right imagery, and especially the right image sizes for each platform. Write “classy clickbait,” or as our Senior Digital Strategist John Bucher recently called it, create a “curiosity gap,” that encourages click-through. Use quotes from your content that will encourage shares, retweets, and repins.

Still feeling lost? We could easily write a full blog post for each social platform, but here’s the Sparknotes version for content creation.

  • Facebook: Use link-style posts, targeted boosts, and classy clickbait.
  • Twitter: Use attention-grabbing visuals, classy clickbait, and try multiple angles for each blog post.
  • LinkedIn: Engage with like-minded organizations and individuals through a CEO account (since you can’t engage as a brand).
  • Pinterest: Use rich pins, use vertical images, extensive descriptions and hashtags, and pin at least 5 times a day.

Always remember to stay true to your brand, and use your content strategy to create conversations, not to sell your product. If you build a community and create content for them, traffic will follow.