So you published your polished post on social media and started waiting for the clicks to roll in. Hours pass by, but nothing happens. Does this scenario sound frustratingly familiar? That's because the volume of social media traffic is in decline. Back in 2014, over 31% of referral traffic came from social media - a number that dropped to 26% in 2018, the first year when search outpaced social for referral traffic. Even though getting people to see or engage with your content has become a challenge, it's not impossible. Read on to find out how to increase social media traffic in an effective way:
Before we dive into the tips, let’s first take a second to understand the problem and answer an important question – why is social media traffic tanking?
It’s never been easier to create content – which is why the amount of posts shared on social media is immense. Every day, users share over 100M photos and videos on Instagram, 350M photos on Facebook, and 500M tweets on Twitter.
The amount of content shared online leads to content shock – a situation where the available content volume exceeds human capacity to consume it:
Because of the content overload on social media, it’s now more difficult than ever to stand out in the News Feed and get users to click.
Social media platforms are aware of this problem, and continuously tweak the News Feed algorithms to deliver the most relevant content to users – which brings me to the next point.
News Feed algorithms are there to help the user navigate the constant stream of posts uploaded to social media.
Each network handles the algorithms differently. Instagram claims to show us every post from everyone we follow, but prioritizes the order we see them in. Facebook has possibly the most sophisticated algorithm that restricts what we see. Twitter lets us switch between algorithmic and non-algorithmic feed while LinkedIn seems set to copy Facebook’s strategy.
The goal of each social media platform is the same – to keep users engaged and on the platform for as long as possible.
But because the algorithms may deem your content irrelevant and consequently downrank it in the News Feed, there’s a chance your posts won’t get in front of your audience.
Getting users to click through to your website has become a major challenge.
How to increase social media traffic?
Before we delve into discussing platform-specific content types that can help you earn more click-throughs, let’s first focus on the most basic strategy to boost your social media traffic – collaborating with your audience.
By including social media users in your content creation process, you are breaking out of your online bubble and encouraging people to interact with your posts.
Here’s how you can simultaneously create content and engage your followers:
Talking to your audience and asking them to contribute ideas is a great way to kick off your content creation efforts.
I use this tactic regularly by posting in my Facebook group, as well as on my LinkedIn and Twitter profile. I’ll usually post a list of topics I’m intending to cover, and ask for input.
If someone suggests an idea I later include in the post, I’ll credit and tag them when I share the article on social media. Those collaborators will generally share the post with their audiences.
Pet Sitters Ireland used a similar technique for their post on dog friendly hotels in Ireland. After they published the first draft, they asked for additional venues to add.
The company got double benefit from asking their audience to share their ideas. The post got extra reach because of all the comments, and the contributors and the featured hotels would click, like comment, and share.
Round up posts make your audience the star of your content.
A round-up post is a collection of thoughts, tips, or comments from a group of contributors. How to create it? Ask a specific question on your social media channels and collate your audience’s answers together in one big post.
Assuming each of the mentioned contributors shares your post, you’ll be able to reach a huge audience.
I’ve used this tactic a few times on my own blog and have found that it works best with micro-influencers. These are influential members of your target market that might not be regularly featured in round-up posts, but who have a significant potential to amplify the reach of your message.
My post for International Women’s Day in 2017 mentioning successful, influential women got almost 800 visits in 7 days, with over 50% of that traffic coming from Facebook:
How do you decide what to write about and select subjects that matter to your audience? Get your topic selection right, and you will get buckets of social media traffic. Get it wrong, and you’ll struggle to get clicks.
There are plenty of tools that can help you research talking points that are hot with your audience. Here are just a few:
Groups are a goldmine of information about your target market and audience. They are a place where you can hang out with your people and find out what makes them tick.
Join groups that your ideal audience frequent, and keep a note of the questions that come up most often. Look for trends in your audience’s conversations, identify problems they face, and create content that addresses these.
Quora is a hive of questions and answers. Type in any keyword or topic, and you’re bound to find content relevant to your customers.
Trending topics on Twitter can give you as much inspiration as news sites. If you are quick, and find your own angle on a story, you can engage your audience with breaking news.
Another way to discover content ideas your audience will find interesting is doing a keyword research. Even though researching keywords might sound like a tedious job, it’s actually very easy – just use one of the tools discussed below.
Google autocomplete – the easiest way to see what people are searching for is to let autocomplete do the work. Start typing your keyword or idea into Google to get an accurate list of suggested search terms.
Keywords Everywhere – My favorite tool for finding keyword suggestions is the Keywords Everywhere browser extension. It shows you the search volume for the keyword you’re interested in and suggests related keywords. One of the best things about Keywords Everywhere is that it works not just on Google, but also on all search engines including YouTube and Amazon.
Trending topics will drive traffic to your website because they are in the moment. Seasonal content works in a similar way, but the traffic it brings in is more lasting.
Aside from the obvious seasons like winter holidays, you can also engage your audience in conversations about more quirky holidays that you can easily discover with daysoftheyear.com. The website lists all the weird holidays of the year, and even gives you a topical hashtag.
Pick out the holidays that will resonate with your audience and use them as a springboard for your content.
Now that you know the general tips to improve your social media traffic, it’s time to understand the tactics you can use for each social network.
The most obvious way to get more website traffic from Facebook is to include links in your content.
This tactic might seem risky, especially since link posts get the lowest reach and engagement on the platform. Still, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include links in your Facebook content at all – used smartly, links can help drive significant referral traffic to your web.
Here are several tactics you can use to maximize clicks on Facebook.
Some page owners have tried to hack the algorithm by posting links in the captions of photographs and videos.
Although this will get more reach, it doesn’t get more link clicks.
Link posts, where the preview of your post is shared are engineered to get clicks. The whole preview is clickable making it easier for people to visit your site and tit gives viewers a better idea of what they are clicking through to see.
Facebook have even told us that this is how you get the best results from your links:
“We’ve found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions.
The link format shows some additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through. This format also makes it easier for someone to click through on mobile devices, which have a smaller screen.
With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.”
Links posted in the caption of a photo or video get hidden, particularly on mobile.
There are a few creative tactics you can use for clicks though.
Native video gets great reach on Facebook and we can convert some of this reach into website visits by adding a call to action button.
To activate this you’ll need to boost, or advertise your video post.
Click the ‘No Button’ icon to choose a button.
Now a box will appear for you to add your link. Be careful to get this right as you can’t edit the button or link once you’ve boosted your post.
You don’t have to spend big on this, the minimum spend is €1.00, £1.00 or $1.00 for a day long boost and this is all you need to add the button.
Instead of posting a your link you can tease your content with an image, a video or a live stream and ask people to comment on the post to get the link.
Messenger bots can be set up to trigger when someone comments on a post. Just be sure to let people know that is what is going to happen.
Organic clicks might be hard to win. Ads make it easy.
Facebook knows how users behave when on Facebook. When you set up an ad with the ‘traffic’ objective it will serve those ads to members of your audience who are most likely to click. Even for a small budget you will get clicks as long as the content is right.
The Facebook story format is relatively new and this makes advertising in that placement cheaper.
With this in mind, creating ads that are designed for this placement should see you getting a good cost per click.
You can only create Facebook story ads if you also create an Instagram story ad but the format for the two is the same. A 9×16 image or video.
To select the Facebook story placement when creating a Facebook ad click into your ad set and scroll down until you see ‘Placements’.
Click ‘Edit placements’
Select the Facebook (and Instagram) story placement.
Ad the ad creation level select the carousel creative. This means you can add up to 3 images or videos for your story ad.
There’s one major barrier for getting social media traffic from Instagram. Unless you have 10,000 followers or you advertise there’s only one link on your Instagram account and that’s in your bio.
How can you get people to click through to your website when there is such a huge barrier in place?
If you do have 10,000 followers or have a verified account you have access to the swipe up function in Instagram stories. This means you can add a link to your story posts that is activated when people swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
It’s something many Instagram users crave but interestingly, according to digiday the swipe up rate on stories averages around 2 – 5%.
If you don’t have 10,000 followers there are other things you can do that will get you a similar result.
You can use this tactic in stories and post feeds. Give your audience a teaser of your blog post and ask them to comment if they want the link.
Kate from Pet Sitters Ireland tested this and managed a 3% link request rate. When I spoke to her about the experiment she told me that she also had conversations with the people who commented which was a bonus on top of driving traffic to her site.
Fired on by Pet Sitters Ireland results, I tried the same tactic and also managed to get a 3% request rate.
Asking for a comment is a big a big ask. If you cut the work your audience has to do will you increase the number of link requests?
Instead of asking for a comment The Digital Gal asked people to use the slider poll to request access to her latest cheat sheet. As you can see below she got a large number of requests.
So it seems that if you cut down the effort required to request a link you’ll get better results.
Just like with Facebook stories you can create Instagram story ads to promote a link. The difference is you can create an ad just for Instagram stories without the need to add the Facebook story placement.
The term ‘link in bio’ has become part of the Instagram lexicon. It popped up as a response to that one clickable link in the bio and is used to tell people that they can find more information there.
Having just one link makes it hard to direct people to the right place on your site. To work around this, create a landing page on your website just for the people visiting from Instagram.
There are tools that can assist you with this but the advantage of creating your own is that you can retarget visitors with ads and you have the chance to engage the people who visit.
Here’s an example from MyKidsTime
Links in your captions on Instagram aren’t clickable. To stand any chance of people visiting your site you need to make any link you share there easy to remember.
Pretty Links is a WordPress plugin that lets you create custom links that include your website domain.
For example you could create a link yourdomain.com/easteroffer
To create a Pretty Link paste your long link into the ‘Target URL’ box then add your desired link into the ‘Pretty Link’ box.
Your pretty link will be easier to remember. People who are inspired to find out more will be able to memorize it long enough to type it into their browser.
Twitter has come a long way since it was a plain text network. As you scroll through your feed you’ll see images and videos that accompany that text.
You’ll also see previews of link posts. These are called ‘Twitter cards’ and you need to activate them on your site.
Cards make your links look more appealing. Instead of a just a text tweet with a link you will see an image associated with the page it links to, a headline and a description, Just like Facebook.
Want to see if your site has cards enabled? Visit Twitter’s ‘Card validator’ https://cards-dev.twitter.com/validator
Paste a link to a webpage into the box to preview how Twitter will display your link.
If you don’t see something similar to the above you’ll need to enable cards for your website. I use the Yoast plugin for WordPress for this.
To activate cards install the plugin and then click ‘Social’ in the settings. Then Twitter in the top menu.
You can choose from ‘Summary with large image’ or ‘Summary’ as your card style.
Non WordPress users should talk to their developers about enabling cards.
LinkedIn has an algorithm that rivals Facebook’s for demoting link posts. But where there’s an algorithm there’s a challenge. LinkedIn users have been finding hacks that get your content in front of more people, resulting in more clicks.
Shares are almost meaningless on LinkedIn, they can reach some new people but if you want to boost your reach outside of your own network engagement is crucial.
It’s comments that are magic on LinkedIn. When someone comments on a post, a large portion of their network sees it in their feed. Comments will push your content way beyond your potential audience of connections.
To get this multiplier effect ensure that you are sharing with ‘Anyone’ when you post on LinkedIn.
You’ll find this privacy option at the top of the box when creating your post.
This alone isn’t enough. To get comments you need to make your post comment-worthy. Try asking a question in the caption of your link post.
Seasoned LinkedIn users have found another way to hack the algorithm.
I asked the relentlessly helpful LinkedIn aficionado John Espirian to explain the ‘Write-post-edit’ method. Here’s what he told me.
“LinkedIn wants to keep you on its platform, so posts containing external links tend to have reduced organic reach.
A common hack is to place links in the comments, but this can lead to the links being buried once the post has attracted more than a handful of comments.
A better alternative is to use the “write-post-edit” workaround. This keeps the link inside the main post but sidesteps the algorithm’s penalty for pointing to external content.
This has been my most effective tactic for transforming the organic reach of content marketing posts on LinkedIn.”
And that’s it, my list of non-standard tactics you can use to drive more social media traffic to your website.
As social media referrals decline we will need to continuously re-learn how to get traffic from social media. The tactics I’ve shared above will help you boost your social media traffic, fight the algorithm and stand out in the sea of content, for now.
If you have any to add leave me a comment below.