It’s easy to understand how social media generates traffic, but it’s not as important as understanding the desire to share.
How do you use social media as an effective traffic generation tool? It’s a marketer’s lament as often as it is a quest. There’s no question that social media can be a powerful traffic-generator. But it’s like playing Russian roulette. Sometimes when you pull the trigger, nothing happens.
There’s an important question you have to ask if you want to know why social media doesn’t always shoot in the direction you aim. Shout out the answer if you’re certain you know it.
Who owns your brand?
You don’t. Your customers own it. It exists in their minds. You can shape how you want them to perceive a brand, but you can’t demand that they consume it as you choose to express it. So there’s the perception aspect. What, do you think you own it or something?
As a marketer, you’re also dealing with emotional and experiential responses. Countless sources contribute to how the public will receive and respond to social media on any given moment. It’s a shared frustration. Why didn’t this post do anything for traffic? We posted one exactly like it last month, and it brought us all kinds of traffic!
That was then. This is now. The perfect moment that shot your social media post to the moon may never happen again. But before you conclude that this makes social media a giant crapshoot, remember that while the mindset of your prospects is moving target, you can a beacon of consistency.
So you can think of social media as your megaphone. We’ve got another suggestion for you.
Being infectious versus going viral
It’s the Holy Grail. Your social media post goes viral. It’s shared by hundreds of thousands of people, or maybe even millions. Cue the angelic harp music. Even if a fraction of those people head to your website, you’ve generated traffic galore. The sales funnel is fully loaded. You’d better bring on extra customer service people.
What you’re hoping for is an end-state. It’s result. Shouldn’t you focus on the beginning?
Epidemics start out with a single host carrying a contagion. The infectious individual comes into contact with a small number of others relative to the final number of those who succumb to the epidemic. Each of those goes on to spread the infection their respective and similar sized social groups. The number of infected grows exponentially this way. It is optimally efficient.
A virus is incapable of thinking, but if you could ascribe it with an objective, it would not be, “I must infect as many people as possible.” It wouldn’t focus on an end-state. A virus can’t have a motive, either; however, if we had to frame it with one, it would be more along the lines of, “I must be highly effective at infecting every member of the small group I’ll come into contact with. They’ll take it from there.”
Who will you infect today?
With this epidemiological perspective in mind, which version of the virus does your social media aspire to be? Brands that get the most success from their social media efforts – and therefore generate the most website traffic – don’t employ end-state strategies. They focus on exposing a small group to a lethal dose of an idea virus that tells a compelling story about the brand.
The incubation doesn’t stop there. Successful social media marketers make it as effortless for those they’ve infected to spread it further. So-called “influencers” are nice to infect, think about it from your idea virus’s point of view. Do they even get into sneezing range of their billions of followers? How effective are they, really, at achieving the intimate level of interaction necessary to guarantee they’ve successfully infected someone else? That’s a job better left by a small group of people that has already claimed ownership of your brand. They’re already feverish with the desire to share.
Social media is the perfect transmission method for personal recommendations and word of mouth, which – like a sneeze – only has to infect just one other person to start an exponential chain reaction.
Start by examining the quality of your social media posts before you move on to quantity or any other aspect you have reason to believe has impacted their ability to generate website traffic.
The rest of the story
You know how it goes from there – or how it’s supposed to go. When you’re successful with it, social media will increase your inbound traffic, improve your search rankings, facilitate higher conversion rates, improve brand loyalty, elevate you as a thought leader, and establish you as an authority.
Notice that they’re all focused on end-states?
You can’t – or shouldn’t – concentrate on how social media works to accomplish these things until you know why social media works. The answer isn’t macro. The objective isn’t volume. The strategy is micro. The solution is quality and relevance.
Because all you need is a handful of people to start an epidemic.
Using social media to turbocharge traffic generation may be one of the few acceptable reasons to strive for complete and utter contagiousness. The perfect vehicle to spread an idea virus is near and dear to our hearts. It’s content, and that’s what we do best. Which…pretty much makes us the Typhoid Mary of storytelling.
Pass the tissue box.