With over 270 million active users on Twitter, 300 million on Instagram and between 850 million and 1.3 billion on Facebook (depending on the data you look at), there’s no question you should be utilizing social media.
I’m fully aware there are still some who aren’t for whatever reason. But I’d go as far as saying there isn’t any type of organization that can’t benefit from having a presence on at least one or two social platforms. Although utilizing social media may now be seen as a necessity, that doesn’t mean it’s a matter of investing, sitting back and watching the results come in.
Social media isn’t the simple resource many believe it to be.
An in-depth, complex and multifaceted channel, social media activity requires both an initial and on-going investment of resources to ensure you see the results you expect from it — which for most, is traffic to a website that converts how you need it to.
So when you’re investing in social media, but aren’t seeing the level of conversions you want, need or expect, what do you do?
From my experiences to date, chances are you need to resolve at least one of these seven mistakes you’re likely making:
1. Your Overall Social Media Activity isn’t Effective
The root of most problems with social media activity comes back to the fact the majority of your activity isn’t, for want of a better word, correct.
While there’s generally no strict right or wrong way to use the networks, you have to think of it from the point of your audience.
For example, would you only want to see the company you’re engaged with promoting their own products or services several times a day? Similarly, would you find it difficult to develop a relationship with a brand if they’re never interacting with others on social platforms?
To see success on social media, you need to be just that — social. You need to engage, interact and educate your audience. You need to make them laugh, inspire and get them thinking.
If you’re not doing this — and you’re only self-promoting all day long, for example — you’re going to be doing nothing other than make your audience switch off.
And when they’re switched off, the chance of them converting? Minimal. At best.
2. Your Individual Social Media Updates Aren’t Doing the Job
Although it’s vital to understand the importance of my first point, it’s just as necessary to realize that the way messaging is delivered can have as much of an impact. If not more so.
A prime example can be seen in a piece of advice I heard Brian Lavery from Twitter offer in a webinar a couple of months back. In it, Brian suggested that for click-through traffic purposes, a tweet should follow a basic structure:
Question + Hook + URL
Through testing, Brian explains that this currently proves to be the most effective style of tweet, as you can play out a scenario your audience is facing, and then provide an answer. For example:
Struggling to convert your social followers into sales? This information guarantees change: http://bitly.com/ExampleURL
What’s more, Brian suggested that a lack of hashtags is necessary to reduce the likelihood of people missing the URL or clicking away from the tweet.
Now of course, not every tweet you make should follow this structure, and the reality is you may find through testing that a modified version works better with your audience. However, the point behind it is that you need to think not just about what your audience wants when you’re considering the overall messaging, but the actual way it’s provided.
Research, testing and analysis can go a long way, and you shouldn’t make assumptions based on nothing but broad or minimal information.
A prime example of this is when I discovered the most effective Facebook posts are almost always the ones that have fewer characters than allowed on Twitter — 100 fewer, if we’re being exact.
Although you have thousands of characters at your disposal on Facebook, research carried out by Jeff Bullas found that short, 40 character updates were the ones that saw the most engagement.
Taking all this into account, simply put, you need to have a strategy in place for social media update delivery. Of course, the occasional update that doesn’t conform isn’t likely to cause harm (in fact, it may have a positive impact by showing personality.) But you need to understand not only how your audience interacts with updates on social media, but how you can incorporate these styles into your updates to see the greatest conversion rate possible.
3. You’re Sending Traffic to an Unrelated/Generic Page
As consumers today, we expect things to be presented to us quickly and easily. If we’re searching for something in Google, we don’t want to have to make a dozen different searches until we find it. Similarly, when we land on a website, we expect the information to be instantly visible (there’s a great article on the Guardian website around this, reminding us that we want “instant gratification and quick fixes,” but also that “an alternative website is just a mouse click away”).
With this last point in particular, if you’re seeing a lot of visitors referred from social media to your website, but you’re getting minimal conversions or a high bounce rate, you need to question whether you’re sending people to the most suitable page possible.
If you’re promoting an offer on a football shirt, for example, but are directing people to the home page of your website, it’s unlikely the majority of people will then go and look around your website trying to find the shirt.
What’s important to note here is that if you are directing people to the right page, just spend a couple of minutes checking — I’ve seen it happen plenty of times in the past where there has been an error with the URL shortening service, or the page throws up a 404 error because the name was recently changed.
It’s all about reducing the amount of clicks it takes a visitor to go from just that to a paying customer. The quicker and more efficient the customer journey is, the more likely it is they’ll convert.
4. Your Social Media Audience isn’t the Right Audience
Even in 2014, I’m still seeing social media accounts have hundreds or thousands of fake followers; followers that have absolutely no value to the account, brand or company, and are only gained to give you the ability to say you have X number of followers.
Whilst there’s a lot to be said for having a large number of followers (it can be a great indication you’re a popular company and therefore improve brand reputation and customer confidence), quality must come before quantity.
As is the case on all channels you’re utilizing, the audience you’re targeting and engaging with needs to be relevant to your business. It needs to consist of people who have some level of interest in the products or services you’re offering, as these are the people who’ll most likely become customers themselves, but who’ll also become brand advocates, sharing your content and encouraging others to become customers, too.
5. You’re Not Considering the Long Game
Put your consumer hat on. You’ve landed on a website, found the product you want, but for whatever reason you aren’t going to buy it — perhaps it’s because you don’t need it quite yet.
Does that mean you don’t want to engage with the company at all? I’d be pretty certain you’d be happy with at least some type of continued or future interaction, if not just for the fact your experience with the brand to date has been a positive one.
From the company’s point of view, when a visitor is engaged with the brand, the chance of them becoming a customer in the future is increased. For example, you might get to see their products via e-mail or hear about a promotion they’re running via a social media account you’re now following them on.
In my eyes, this is the long game. It’s about understanding the lifetime value of the customer and that although they may not convert as soon as they first land on your website, that’s not to say they won’t do so at some point in the future.
As consumers today, we want more information about products, services and brands than we ever have before, all to help us complete the buying process and ensure we feel confident with our decision. This may happen instantly, or it may take several weeks or months to happen.
As such, it’s vitally important you don’t assume that just because a visitor is accessing your website, they a) will convert straightaway and b) won’t return if they don’t convert — simply have to give them the opportunity to constantly engage with you (such as by quickly and easily joining an e-mail newsletter) to retain that level of positive interaction moving forward.
6. Your Traffic Isn’t the Problem — It’s Your Website
One point to take into account when you’re looking at conversions from your social media audience is that there’s every possibility what you’re doing with regards to social media is perfect, and it’s actually your website that’s letting you down.
You could be sending thousands upon thousands of daily visitors from social media to your website. But if it’s poorly designed and offers an awful customer experience, the likelihood of the traffic converting is minimal.
It’s akin to a business traditionally investing massively in marketing, but nothing in customer service. Brand awareness could be huge, but that doesn’t mean sales will be.
Organizations today need to be offering a truly customer-focused experience. A website needs to be responsive on all platforms to deliver an omni-channel journey. There needs to be enough content there to inform, but not too much that it distracts. Images need to be high quality and in abundance, rather than limited and pixelated when displayed in full.
The whole checkout process has to be quick, efficient and to a certain extent, enjoyable.
7. It is — You Just Don’t Know It
An interesting thought on the topic is that there isn’t actually an issue with your social media audience converting and they’re doing it regularly — you simply don’t know about it.
If you’re using software such as Google Analytics, you can obviously track how many visitors came from which social networks — and with goals correctly setup, you should be able to also track how many of those people converted into a customer.
But what about those customers who first visited via social media, clicked away from the website and came back after typing your domain name into their browser?
Now of course, you may not class these customers as direct social media conversions. But if someone engages with you on social media regularly, visits your product pages a couple of times, but only converts after they’ve left and came back via a more manual way of accessing the site, in my eyes, that’s still a fantastic indication your social media activity is working.
Tracking this type of activity, although seemingly difficult, is actually possible, with numerous pieces of software available to help you do so.
HubSpot, for example, is an example I’ve seen used to do just this, with it offering the ability to track the full customer journey. From their very first visit to the website, right through to when they converted and beyond, it can detail exactly how and when they visited and what resources were engaged with (such as a piece of e-mail marketing or a specific landing page).
You could even go down the manual route. If you’ve invested heavily in social media and no other channels, and conversions have increased, remove the normal percentage of conversions from non-social traffic and you’ll be left with an approximate figure from social media. This can then be compared to past data to give a general increase in social media conversions.
In my opinion, social media is one of the most important tools any organization can have in its arsenal. Hugely flexible, it has a vast array of benefits that make it an appropriate — or necessary — investment option for all.
And while there’s no doubt it is more complex to benefit from than most first appreciate, with the right strategy, there’s very little reason why social media can’t be one of your key conversion channels.