How To Boost Traffic Using Social Media
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are not for everyone. However, if you're in the right industry, these sites can boost your profits and bring your business more customers than you can handle. The key to making this work is to understand what's under the hood of your favorite websites.
LinkedIn is, more or less, a professional network. This site is one of the most underused websites on the Internet. It's a great way for B2B businesses to build and expand their influence. Because LinkedIn is comprised of professionals, you should have a difficult time reaching out to people in pretty high places within professional organizations.
Unlike randomly searching on Google for the owner of some business you want to do business with, LinkedIn allows you to make friends with them and have a dialog with the owner. Sometimes, you can interact with CEOs of large corporations. It's not just for small businesses.
What may surprise you is that executives from all Fortune 500 companies have profiles on LinkedIn. This is incredible. Do you know how difficult it is to get a phone call to go through to the VP of a Fortune 500 company, much less the CEO? You have to somehow figure out how to get past the "gatekeeper." Not on LinkedIn. You can email the CEO directly. Chances are, if you have something interesting to say, he'll respond.
Use Twitter Intelligently
Twitter is sometimes considered "Facebook on crack." How can you possibly make sense of all of the noise on there? Simple. Use Twitter to stay in touch with existing customers. Twitter might be useful for generating new business, but the power of Twitter is in staying connected with existing customers.
Tweets are short updates about how you're doing. They're not for pitching products. If you think about it, Twitter is actually more for your raving fans than anyone else. Only your best customers want to be so connected with you that they're willing to receive updates about every minute detail of your life.
You can use Twitter to advertise specials for loyal customers too, but these shouldn't take precedence over non-business updates. A good mix of commercial and non-commercial tweets may work best.
Use Facebook Intelligently
If Google is like the yellow pages, then Facebook is like a coffee shop. Businesses that are easy to discuss in an intimate setting tend to do well on Facebook. This means that if you have a local business (i.e. a local coffee shop, bar, or restaurant), then Facebook can work really well for you.
Facebook is primarily for business-to-consumer businesses or B2C businesses. If you sell to other businesses, it's just going to be harder to engage your customers on Facebook. They're probably all hanging out on LinkedIn.
Political campaigns do well on Facebook. Anytime you sell something, or offer something, that is ideological, it has the potential to do very well on Facebook. Because Facebook is social, by its very nature, it almost serves as a marketplace for ideas. If you haven't noticed, a lot of wall posts are religious or political in nature. A lot of news stories get reposted. People post quotes all of the time to their wall. That's excellent if you are doing something ideological.
You can also advertise to your fans on Facebook. Sometimes, those wall posts get lost in a sea of updates from real-life friends and family. Your potential customers or fans may place a low priority on your status updates as a business. Facebook is really good at understanding who is important to a person and who isn't.
When you advertise to your fans, you can put your message in front of them while they're looking at family pictures. The amazing thing is that Facebook has allowed this to happen with a very low annoyance factor.
While social media could be another excellent way to diversify your traffic sources, don't rely on it if you are in a business that isn't social. Some companies just don't do well on sites like Facebook.
For example, commodity products stink on social media sites (unless you're a household brand). If you're an affiliate, forget about it. If you have a business model that would expose an insecurity in your customers, it might not translate into a successful marketing campaign. For example, selling hemorrhoid medicine or bankruptcy services might not be a good idea. Who is going to want to be fans of a business like that? Even if they did need your product or service, most people don't want to advertise stuff like that to the world.
In the end, use your best judgment. Look for other companies in your niche that are doing well on social media sites. If they're doing well, chances are you have a shot. If no one else in your industry is marketing via social media, it could mean that they're behind the 8-ball on this one or it could mean that they were destroyed by site users' lack of interest.