Social media continues to be one of the most powerful ways of promoting your website. And while social shares won’t directly influence your search engine results, choosing the right social media platform and finding the right influencers can greatly increase the popularity and traffic to your site.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Michelle Stinson Ross, one of the industry’s leading experts on social media with Authority Labs. She provided some helpful tips on finding the right social media outlets and tools to best promote your website.
Web Hosting Cat: What are the best ways to use social media to drive traffic to your website?
Michelle Stinson Ross: First and foremost if social media is intended to drive traffic, you need to be including links. It’s not enough to tweet something that’s cool or share an interesting picture. Really even taking it up a notch and doing native video in either Twitter of Facebook—that’s great! That brings people to your hub there on that channel. But when it comes to driving traffic, it’s got to have a link.
WHC: Should you focus mainly on Twitter and Facebook? Or, should you try to include as many social media outlets as possible?
MSR: It depends on several goals. So, if your over-arching social media goal is to just get as much brand recognition as you can, if it’s more about building your brand’s persona online, than yes you want to widespread. When it comes to deeper more meaningful customer relationships and true band authority, you really need to drill down into the one, two, maybe three channels that your customers love best. That might be Facebook and Twitter—that might be LinkedIn and Google+. It might be Periscope and Instagram. It depends on who your customers are and where they really want to hang out and really want to engage.
WHC: What’s your opinion of Google+? Should people still care about it?
MSR: Google+ is a little bit tricky. Number one, it is fantastic if your niche happens to live on Google+. For instance, for those of us here in the digital marketing industry, there’s a very, very vibrant and active community on Google+. Bar none, if you’re in this industry, you should be involved in Google+. Having said that, beyond those niches of interest in Google+, it’s like anything else, you might be better served on Pinterest than Google+. You really need to make sure you know your audience. But, the flip side of that is we don’t know whether Google might retire it or not. I do have to leave that as a caveat. But, there is at least some value in how quickly a page gets indexed if it’s been shared on Google+. So if you absolutely need it to be indexed quickly, and start ranking quickly, you kind of need that Google+ tool in your back pocket.
WHC: Are certain types of social shares more valuable than others? For example Facebook shares, Twitter retweets, Pinterest repins, etc.?
MSR: Again, a lot of that has to do with where your audience already is. If you are a B to C Company, and you have a huge presence with say moms with toddlers at home, then that Facebook share is probably very, very valuable to you. I’m not saying that stay at home mommies are the only ones on Facebook, but we know that lots and lots of moms share their life, their kids on Facebook. They are constantly asking other moms about what’s the best this or what’s the best that. They’re asking each other about diaper recommendations—that kind of stuff. At the same time, if your audience is on Twitter, that retweet becomes really, really valuable—especially if what you’re sharing is more news related, more real time related. If you need to drive traffic quickly, you might want shares on retweets rather that a Facebook share that might take a really long time to come to fruition.
WHC: How often should you post per day on social media? Is it okay to retweet the same entry at different times?
MSR: Oh absolutely, yes! Think about it. First of all that tweet is only 140 characters anyway. And depending on how active your audience—I’m sure you’ve seen Twitter feeds that absolutely roll by faster than you can read them. The amount of time that that one little tweet stays in front of some people’s face might just be shorter than the snap of a finger. So, absolutely it is worthwhile to tweet that thing over and over and over throughout the day. If you’ve got a large audience, most likely that audience is spread over a wide geographic area and they’re not all even going to be on Twitter at the same time.
WHC: Are there any social media tools that you recommend people use? Do you like Hootsuite?
MSR: I like Hootsuite. It’s not my go to right now, but that’s because I’m willing to put a little money behind what I’m doing. I love SproutSocial for its reporting as well as its campaign type aspects of sharing across multiple channels. For Twitter in particular though, I really, really like TweetDeck. It’s been around forever. It doesn’t do a lot of things, but what it does it does really, really well. So, in comparing what I might use Hootsuite for, I would prefer to use TweetDeck when it comes to Twitter. And then, I also like Buffer for just curation and sharing.
WHC: Everyone always wonders about the next big social media site. Is there anything on the horizon that you see as being the next monster when it comes to social media or will Facebook and Twitter continue to dominate?
MSR: Pinterest is coming on strong. I honestly wouldn’t entirely count out some of the new guys to field like Periscope and MeerKat. I think what’s coming on the horizon is more and more video content, and more and more little tools, little niche pocket things that enable brands, advocates, regular everyday users, to more easily create and share video content. Social video is definitely going to be the thing coming up.