Why do you work so hard to increase your social media following? Have you ever really thought about it? I mean, really, really thought about it? When it comes down to brass tacks, what’s the actual benefit of having half a million Facebook fans? Sure, it means more potential eyes on your marketing message, but what’s the point of that? Your social media strategies aren’t living up to their full potential if your fans are just watching your social media accounts and aren’t making purchases.
Many companies don’t have the capability to sell their products directly through Facebook like Delta Airlines does, and even for those that do, there’s a drawback: Offering product sales through third-party sites necessarily results in a loss of control. While social media networks are wonderful as marketing channels, you still need to move your fans to your website to really close the deal, whether you sell your product online or not.
Your website is perhaps your greatest marketing tool. In the digital universe, your website is the sun, and your social media networks are the orbiting planets. Some people have predicted the imminent demise of the website because of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but I’m not buying it, at least not yet. Not only is a website a space where many companies make their sales (or, in the case of services, a space where would-be customers can find direct communications channels and submit requests for proposals), but it is completely under control of the company that owns it. Having a Facebook page is important, but it’s also limiting. Facebook offers a pretty rigid structure from which it’s difficult to deviate. If you have the money to burn, you can hire a firm to create a Facebook tab for you that sort of resembles a real website, but no matter what you do to spruce up your page, it’s still going to take second billing to the Facebook brand.
That's why your social media isn’t working to its full potential if it’s not driving traffic to your website. Here are a few ways to help your fans and followers make that digital journey.
Tease Your Content
Presumably, you have some worthwhile content on your website. Maybe it’s a photo album of your product, maybe it’s a blog, maybe it’s an instructional video. Whatever it is, use social media to link to it rather than uploading the whole shebang to Facebook.
Rather than uploading twenty photos of your product to Facebook, try posting a link to your website’s photo page and tease it with one great photo on Facebook. Instead of connecting your blog to your Facebook page so each new post publishes to the social network, try posting an intriguing title and a link back to your blog, where you have more control over the aesthetic look and the published content.
Posting good teasers to your website content is a great way to capitalize on peoples’ natural curiosity and lure them over to your site.
Make Your Site Fun
Let's face it; Facebook is more popular than your website. One of the reasons this is true is because Facebook is a fun place to kill some time. Take a lesson from social media and give your audiences a reason to spend that time on your website as well. If you own a ski shop, let visitors design their own skis. Ask users to submit and vote on designs for a new line of long-sleeve t-shirts. Offer an ever-rotating slideshow of inspiring mountain photos. Let them choose from a handful of virtual ski videos so they can spend their mornings in the office feeling like they’re hitting the slopes.
And of course, make sure you throw out a few tweets about how much interactive fun people can have on your site. Don’t forget the link!
Bridge Your Contests
Social media contests are great ways to encourage engagement among your fans and followers. Foursquare scavenger hunts, Twitter trivia questions, Facebook giveaways—they have the power to really connect the public with your brand. Next time you stage a contest, include a website bridge—something that ties your website into the competition and encourages participants to visit.
Holding a Foursquare scavenger hunt? Shout out some clues on a special, dedicated page on your website. Twitter trivia? Ask questions that can only be answered with info from your homepage. Facebook giveaways? List the winners on a dedicated contest page on your site. Announce a new winner every day and give hopeful fans a reason to check in on you seven times a week.
The Bottom Line
Like all marketing message channels, social networks are additional tools your company can use to accomplish a larger goal. It’s important to have a strong social media presence, but it’s even more important to be able to turn those fans and followers into customers.
What are some tricks of the trade that you use to move social media followers to your website? Let us know in the comments below!