Posted on 28 October, 2018 | 5 mins
To be (on social media) or not to be… that is the question for millions of businesses—and for millions, the answer is clear. Only 60% of UK businesses use social media marketing1.
Do you see that as an opportunity to fill a gap your competitors are leaving open—one where you can communicate in a new way with customers, advertise your products and directly sell your services—or is social simply not that important to your business?
More than one-third of companies appear to have voted to stay away from social media marketing and advertising, but that might be a mistake.
Having customers, users or clients is essential to the success and growth of any business. So making sure your brand and offerings are seen, heard or found by people who will potentially pay for what you offer is pivotal. Businesses with a small or non-existent marketing budget need to stick to what’s effective. Social media marketing can be both an inexpensive and effective part of your digital marketing plan.
Here are some cost-effective social media marketing tools to increase traffic to online businesses, and how they can play a starring role in your business growth strategy.
Recently, Pinterest announced that they’ve passed the 250 million monthly-active-user mark. That alone is a great argument for adding Pinterest to your social media marketing plan. The platform is a known favourite among retail shoppers, who “pin” images or videos of goods that interest them to virtual “boards”. Those “Pinners” also click to check out the origins of the pin, meaning more traffic for websites that curate the content.
Depending on the visual appeal of your business location, products or services, you could attract more people to your site using Pinterest. There are even options to connect your online store with your Pinterest profile. This allows product tagging to help Pinners "shop the look".
It’s already best practice in any form of social media marketing to include a good quality image of what you’re selling, whether it is available to buy online or not. You can take this one step further by adding the Pinterest Save button. This allows Pinners to add an image to one of their Pinterest Boards directly from your website.
If you get this part right, you’ll hopefully see brand awareness, reach and traffic growth.
Here are a few tips for using Pinterest for business:
- Use high-resolution 2:3 aspect ratio images
- Make sure your brand is the focus. Product or service images are fine; however, using irrelevant lifestyle images will ruin your quality of traffic
- Think from the user’s point-of-view. What’s the context? How does what you’re showing appeal?
- Add a subtle logo, like a watermark
- Use text on the image to tell a story.
For businesses without a website, you can still become a “Pinner” and start pinning images of your goods with a physical address included in the description. You could think about ways to identify people who have seen your efforts. This may be as simple as saying “show this post for a discount” or “mention this code word for a free coffee”.
Pinterest recently refreshed their advertising options and functions for brands. You can now create a business profile and verify your website with Pinterest. There are also extra analytics functions and, of course, tips to grow your following.
We’ve included some reasons to think about advertising on social media further along in this blog.
Google My Business
If you haven’t signed up for Google My Business, do it! Having your store location, hours and contact details highlighted for FREE on Google Maps, and shown in Google Search, should be on your to-do list.
Google My Business encourages you to share updates, like photos and offers. This means it can function as a social media marketing channel. It’s optional to include a link to a website or store, which is great for businesses that need foot traffic. You can show daily or weekly offers, and tell people about sales or discounts.
The downsides? You’ll need to keep the updates rolling so that possible clients can see you’re active. You’ll also need to have images that fit the 16:9 format. If you have a social media marketing plan, that shouldn't be too hard.
While it’s a little tricky for online-only businesses to set up their profile, because a physical location is needed, it’s worth finding a workaround because it can help search engine optimisation (SEO) results. Your website is also displayed as part of your Google My Business profile, so that’s an obvious way to increase traffic, which you can track using your Google Analytics account.
After you’ve registered and filled in your profile, it takes up to 15 business days for Google to contact you to verify your business. Following that, any major changes can result in needing re-verification. So try and get things accurate the first time!
Measuring your foot traffic that comes from social media marketing, and qualifying it, isn’t easy. It's still better than a classified ad in the local paper. By using Google My Business, you’ll get some stats around who used Google Maps to find you. And of course, you can see website traffic stats, too.
Once people have been to your shop, Google may ask them to review it. Those reviews then show up on your Google My Business profile for other potential customers to see. You can also prompt people to review you on Google.
Google will eventually prompt you to think about advertising on their search and display ad networks. You can link your existing Google Ads account with Google My Business, or follow steps to set an account up.
We’ll get to the benefits of using advertising further on in this post.
Increasing your website traffic by way of Instagram can be as simple as adding a link to your profile bio. You might also like to include a call to action in your posts and stories and, if you’re using video as part of your content, you can put a link in your subtitles.
If you’re using a business app like Shopify, you’ll also be able to link your product catalogue to your Facebook Business. This will let you tag your products in social media posts. A tap on the product becomes a visit to your online store.
This is a huge opportunity for businesses selling products. You can take a great photo or video of your product(s) and tag the visible items. Apply up to 30 relevant hashtags to gain reach, and you’ve just increased the chance of getting more traffic and sales!
If your business provides a service, as opposed to a product, you can focus more on showing the “Five Ws and H” (What, Where, Who, Why, When and How). Surfacing behind-the-scenes stories, posting about team activities, and showing on-location content are all good social media marketing tactics.
For example, an accountant might try this approach:
- What: Accountancy information via video or posts
- Where: The office or desk location
- Who: Images/video of meeting clients, or the details of a specific accountant
- Why: Explanations of why people need accounting help
- When: Reminders of when a good time is to contact accountants (tax time is the easy one!)
- How: Examples of how to contact, what to bring to a meeting with an accountant, etc.
There are also a few simple things you can do to try and increase Instagram traffic to your website. By including a web link in your Instagram bio, you can simply say “link in bio” in your posts or stories, or even in live video or IGTV (Instagram Television) activity.
And for those with a social media marketing budget, you’ll be able to boost these posts using the Instagram app or Facebook Ads manager. See below for more info about social media advertising.
It’s reasonably well-known that organic reach for Facebook pages is almost dead. Posts with links to take users off Facebook are often penalised with even less reach. So, let’s cut to the chase.
If you want to have your brand and products and services seen on the world’s biggest social network with the goal of increasing traffic, you’ll need to put a budget behind it. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, because this will let you use some of the great features Facebook Business offers to advertisers.
Check out Facebook’s ad placement options:
- Instant articles
- In-stream video
- Right column
- Instagram feeds and stories
- Messenger inbox and sponsored messages
- Audience network banners, interstitials, native, rewarded video, in-stream video.
It’s a big list, catering for virtually any advertising wish. The most familiar placements here are probably the feeds and stories across Facebook and Instagram. And because Instagram is owned by Facebook Inc. you can link and manage these two platforms particularly easily.
You might have seen some reports on Facebook’s decline in user numbers or engagement. It’s good to remember that it’s still the world’s largest social network by far, and the most sophisticated in terms of social media marketing. Advertising to their massive base of users to increase your traffic still holds huge potential.
Let's take a broader look at advertising.
Digital and social media advertising
So, what role does social media advertising have in your digital marketing plans? In a nutshell, advertising on social media and search and display networks is an opportunity to target the people you believe are more likely to engage with your content, visit your website and buy from you.
Not so long ago, it was common for businesses to run newspaper or magazine print advertising campaigns that cost lots of money. Measuring the return-on-investment (ROI) of print ads is difficult. The readership of a magazine might be impressive, but did anyone notice your ad? How would you really know if they remembered it or did anything because of it?!
Digital advertising targeting is far more accurate than print, television or radio advertising. You can use demographics, behaviours and interests to create an audience. You can also use tracking to retarget or remarket people who have visited your web pages and send those reminders or further offers and information.
Using tools like Google Analytics, in conjunction with reports from your social media profiles, you are able to see results. This allows you to identify opportunities and shut down ineffective social media marketing activity.
There are other spin-off benefits. By concentrating on the quality of your traffic, you can make better decisions on customer journeys and user experience. You’re also improving the relevancy of your site, which can help with your search engine ranking.
If you’re using retargeting or remarketing tactics via social media advertising, it’s likely that you’ll see an increase in followers. And if you use email for order confirmations or a loyalty programme, you can prompt people to follow your profiles. These followers are much more likely to spread the word to relevant friends.
When you look at it this way, social media advertising is an investment in growth.
Using social media marketing tactics across Pinterest, Google My Business, Instagram and Facebook to increase organic traffic to your site (that is, using it as a free tool) will probably work for you, up to a point. But leveraging paid-for advertising to target and attract more relevant online or offline store traffic is an investment.