Devising a Social Media Plan for Content Marketing

If you’re website owner, chances are you’re getting traffic from social media websites. Have you developed a plan to use social media to help you achieve your goals, or are you blindly using these sites with no real direction? If you don’t have a plan you may not be benefiting from the traffic that you’re receiving.

Shortly after I started publishing content to my blog, I was fortunate enough to get considerable amounts of traffic from social media websites even though I was new to social media marketing. While I was pleased with the quick growth in the traffic I was receiving, a few days later I realized I had little to show for the high volume of traffic that had been on the blog.

If visitors are coming to your website and quickly leaving, are you really gaining anything? That’s the situation I found myself in. While I did gain some new subscribers from that social media traffic, I knew that I should have been gaining even more and I started to look at ways to maximize that traffic. I needed a social media plan for long-term growth.

If you’re using social media to market your website, what is it that you want to gain? Increased traffic numbers alone may help if your goal is to sell advertising space, otherwise inflated traffic numbers really serve no purpose.

As I mentioned earlier, my primary goal with social media traffic is to gain subscribers. Many people feel that this isn’t realistic since social media users have a short attention span and are unlikely to subscribe to blogs that they find while surfing StumbleUpon or Reddit.

But I have found that this traffic does lead to subscribers and can have a significant impact if you have an effective plan. The 3 days in which this blog has received the most visitors are also the 3 days in which the subscriber count experienced the biggest increases. All 3 of these days were sparked by popularity with social media websites.

How to Gain Subscribers from Social Media Traffic

1. You will have to create high amounts of traffic because it’s true, social media visitors are less likely to subscribe than most other visitors. With that being said, it’s much more realistic to receive huge amounts of traffic from social media than from other methods, so even with lower conversion rates you can still see a good jump in subscribers. The key is to get the conversion rate as high as you can to maximize the results of the traffic.

2. Place subscription information/links high on your pages. Many visitors that come to your blog through social media will not stay on your pages for very long. It’s important that these visitors are able to see your subscription options as soon as possible. Don’t bury your subscription links at the bottom of pages where less people will see them.

3. Use standard RSS icons that are easily recognizable. Even with a link that is high on the page, many visitors may overlook it. You can help it to stand out by including one of the common orange RSS icons. If you are in a niche where many of your visitors will not know what RSS is, it will be beneficial to explain RSS somewhere on your site.

4. Offer an email subscription option. Regardless of what industry you are in, some of your visitors will still prefer to subscribe by email over RSS. This is especially important if you are in a non-technical industry, in which case very few of your visitors may currently use RSS. FeedBurner offers a free and easy email subscription option that you can use for your blog.

5. Make your pages load quickly. Visitors from social media websites are unlikely to stick around and wait for your pages to load. If it’s not fast you will be losing visitors and potential subscribers. Keep the blog simple and minimize the use of widgets to increase the speed with which your pages load. For more information about the subject read Designing Pages to Load Quickly.

6. Take advantage of niche social media sites.
While the major sites like Digg and StumbleUpon have the capability to send the most traffic, niche sites will send higher quality, targeted visitors that are more likely to subscribe. Plus it may be easier to achieve popularity with niche social sites like Designer News or Hacker News.

7. Be original. Blog posts that are creative and original will have a higher chance of success with social media, plus your content will stand out to visitors as they are surfing. Take the time to brainstorm and create unique content that will set you apart from other blogs in your industry.

8. Submit to appropriate categories. If you submit your own pages to social media websites, you’ll have the best results if you carefully select the most appropriate category each time. As a result, the visitors you receive will be more targeted. If you use StumbleUpon, try to submit to the major categories, as their will be more viewers for those categories than for the minor ones.

9. Follow up with good content.
Subscribers that are gained through social media tend to be fickle and frequently unsubscribe quickly. You can help to minimize the unsubscriptions by following up with very high quality, relevant content. In addition, some social media traffic will not immediately. By the time this traffic comes there may be newer content on your blog that visitors from social media sites will also read. If they find several articles that they appreciate they are more likely to subscribe.

10. Use internal links.
Internal links in your posts will encourage readers to visitor multiple pages on your blog. The more pages they visit, the more likely they are to subscribe.

11. Have something to offer for subscribers. Some bloggers use free giveaways very effectively to increase the number of subscribers they receive. E-books and downloadable products are very popular and easy to use.

12. Reply to comments. Some people who find your blog through social media will comment on your posts (although the percentage will be low). Replying to their comments may help to increase return visits, especially if you offer a subscribe to comments option. If you are able to get them to come back to your blog a second time you’ve increased the chances of them subscribing.

13. Thank people for links. Many blog posts that are popular with social media will receive a lot of inbound links. Simply taking a moment to comment and thank the other blogger for the link may also help to encourage repeat visits and increase the chances that they will subscribe.

Trying to increase subscribers is just one example of a goal for social media traffic. What are your goals and how do you go about accomplishing them?

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