If you want to get traffic from the social web, all you have to do is publish updates with your links in them, right?
I wish that were the case. If it were this simple, my follower and fan count would guarantee me hundreds of thousands of visitors each month from social media sites.
So, how do you get the most out of your social media following? All you have to do is follow the 11 tactics below.
Tactic #1: Twitter users love pictures
For almost all of 2014, each time I tweeted a new Quick Sprout blog post, I included the post headline and a link back to my site.
On average, I was getting around 6,000 visitors a month from Twitter. For example, I received 5,992 visitors during the month of December simply by tweeting my blog posts.
As you can see from this graph, I’ve since been able to increase my Twitter traffic to 12,470 visitors a month. How was I able to increase it?
I started to include pictures within my tweets.
When I tweet a link to a Quick Sprout blog post, I try to include a picture from the post within the tweet. This alone has helped generate an increase of 108% in my Twitter traffic.
Tactic #2: Space out your updates
The more you post, the more traffic you’ll receive, right? That’s what I thought, but I quickly realized that fans and followers get overwhelmed if you post too often.
I’ve tried everything from posting multiple times each hour to posting hourly on the dot, and I’ve even tried posting once a day.
The optimal frequency of posts depends on which social network you’re using.
I found that posting once every other day on Facebook helps increase your click-throughs.
On Twitter, you don’t want to post more than once per hour.
And on LinkedIn, you don’t want to post more than once per day.
If you want to post more or less often than I’ve suggested, go ahead. However, if you do follow my advice, you should see an increase in your click-through rates.
Tactic #3: Only share the best content
No matter what network you are trying to leverage, sharing mediocre information will only hurt you. I’ve learned this the hard way because when I get lazy and share mediocre information, I see that my social traffic drops.
Why? People assume that all of the content you are sharing is mediocre even if it isn’t. But if the content you are sharing is always great, people will look forward to your updates and actually click through.
If you look at the image above, you’ll notice that my Facebook traffic has dropped by 74%. Sure, some of my content during December performed better on Facebook, but I also wrote fewer posts during that month.
One of the main reasons for the drop was that the updates that I left on Facebook were mediocre. Instead of spending 4 hours a month thinking of good updates, I spent 30 minutes. This also caused me to get fewer likes per post.
Tactic #4: Follow the 80/20 rule
You can come up with your own ideal ratio, but I’ve found that sharing content from your own site 20% of the time is ideal. If you only promote content from your own site, people will find you to be too self-promotional.
When starting out, generally you’ll want to tweet four times about things that aren’t related to your business before you share your own content.
Make sure the updates you post that aren’t about your business are high in quality. Releasing mediocre updates, as mentioned above, will only decrease your overall click-through rates.
Tactic #5: Place your links near the beginning of your social posts
Whenever you release a tweet or a Facebook post, you can control where you place your link. I always place my links towards the end of my updates as it is more convenient, but that doesn’t always cause the most click-throughs.
As you can see from the heat map above, links that are roughly a quarter into your status updates, especially on Twitter, tend to receive the most clicks.
So, the next time you write a Twitter update, don’t add a link at the end of your tweet — add it at the quarter mark.
Tactic #6: Don’t post on Facebook unless you include a photo
Just like on Twitter, Facebook users love images. In fact, they love images so much that Facebook status updates that contain images generate 104% more comments, 54% more likes, and 84% more click-throughs.
Even more interesting is that if you include a call to action within your image, on average you should see an additional increase of 14% in your click-through rate.
Also, using the hexadecimal color #4c66a4 within your photos, or colors such as grey and white which Facebook uses, you should see your click-through rates jump another 16% to 28%.
Tactic #7: Don’t forget to use hashtags
If you haven’t had a chance to read this infographic, you should do so now. It breaks down how using hashtags across all social networks can get you more traffic – in many cases twice the amount of traffic — compared to not using any hashtags.
For each social network, your approach will need to be slightly different; the infographic breaks this down for you. Just make sure the hashtags you are using are relevant.
Years ago, once I realized the value of hashtags, I started using them in all of my updates. It didn’t help much initially because I was just spamming, but once I realized the value of relevant hashtags, I saw an increase in click-throughs.
Tactic #8: Post when your fans and followers are online
Why would you post when your fans and followers aren’t online? I know I wouldn’t. So how do you figure out when your social media followers are online?
Simply Measured has created a few tools to help determine best posting times for your posts. All you have to do is connect your Twitter or Facebook account with its free tools, and it will show you when all of your followers are online.
Once you run a report using these tools, look for an image like the graph above. It will help you understand when to post.
Tactic #9: Be short and to the point
I’ve tried to find the ideal length for social media status updates, but it varies depending on the network. With Twitter, you don’t have much room anyway since the platform limits the number of characters you can use.
With other platforms, like Facebook, however, you can write paragraphs.
Nonetheless, I’ve found that shorter updates tend to get the most clicks. For example, I’ve tested updates on Facebook that are paragraph-long and found that the click-through rates on these updates are two to six times less frequent than updates that are one-sentence long and around 40 characters in length.
If you want to get the most clicks, follow the character counts below:
Tactic #10: Be careful which words you use
Have you ever wondered if the words you use in your updates generate more shares, comments, and clicks? For each social network it’s different.
Here are the most shareable words that you should use on Facebook:
Tactic #11: Test, test, and test some more
Even though I broke down 10 tactics to help you increase your click-through rates, don’t take my word for it. What works for me may not work for you. And vice versa.
So, what should you do? You should test all of the tactics and come up with your own. This will help you maximize your click-through rate over time.
You should also keep in mind that social networks change over time. For that reason, you have to continually adapt and test your strategies. Failing to do so will cause your click-through rates to drop.
Growing your fan base is one way to get more social media traffic, but it will take months before you see results from that.
What should you do in the meantime? You should focus on increasing your click-through rates. Just follow the 11 tactics above, and you should see more social media traffic to your site within the next 24 hours.
How else can you increase your social media click-throughs?
P.S. If are still struggling to get the most out of your social media channels, you should run your URL through my analyzer.