Social media marketing is the holy grail of lead generation.
Social platforms from Facebook to LinkedIn provide free access to your market and industry. These platforms include extensive tools to build a following, share content, and bring people back to your site.
We’re guessing you’ve tried social media before and didn’t see the returns.
A lot of businesses are great at what they do… except with community engagement and social promotion. Some of you are introverts, too. You understand the value of social media marketing, but your follower count stagnates. And, you see little engagement.
Let’s fix this.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a thorough understanding of using social media to drive website traffic. We’ll cover all the major social platforms, explain the process, and hopefully provide enough motivation to get you back into the mix.
What’s the Meaning of Social Media Marketing?
Social media really isn’t any different than talking to a group of people or customers. Except, now it’s online and in the open – everything you share is public.
This is a typical turn-off for small businesses because they feel they’re “sharing too much”. Or, they’re worried the competition will pick and use efforts against them.
Here’s the thing…
- Your market and audience are on social platforms
- They’re talking about products and services you offer
- Many are engaging with brands and act as advocates
If I’m not engaging my audience… who is?
That answer is your competitors.
The meaning of social media marketing is certainly about driving people to your website. But, it’s also about engaging followers to build brand awareness. Or, using the platforms as a feedback tool – one used to empower employees and develop better offers.
Your competitors are out there. They’re engaging your audience. They’re becoming the market leaders without you present.
Get rid of this notion you have nothing to say. Stop assuming your competitor’s will rip-off efforts (hint: they’re probably doing it already without you knowing, anyway).
- Participate with the community to share something neat, inspiring, or helpful
- Use the platforms to drive traffic, create word-of-mouth, grow, and service customers
- Connect with everyone and be everywhere to build a stronger position in your industry
Honestly, social media marketing isn’t difficult.
Follow along with the next sections and you’ll easily double site traffic (and hopefully sales).
Social Media Marketing: By Platform
There’s no way we can cover every social media platform in this post. Instead, we’re focusing on the main ones you and your followers already use. This refines efforts, so you’re not spread too thin.
Use the following to quick-jump to the platforms:
We’ve also included extras like:
Note: We’re constantly updating this social media marketing guide. Expect new social platforms, and expanded tips, tricks, and strategies for each social media type.
There’s a lot to take in so we recommend you bookmark this page. Otherwise, you can download the social media traffic guide (PDF) if you prefer reading it offline.
How to Get Traffic & Engagement from Facebook
There’s no point beating around the bush: if you’re not on Facebook then you’re losing a whole heaping of potential leads to your online business.
Facebook, the Goliath of a social networking site, has found integration in nearly every piece of our gadgets and technology, stretches across the globe, and keeps users hooked longer than nearly any other website.
For the savvy mindset of an affiliate marketer – you can immediately understand the benefits of gaining access to your community especially since they’re already there and they’re already talking about you.
In this article, I’ll take you through the absolute basics when it comes to getting set up with Facebook for traffic generation, various ways to build that following, and then a good bit of strategies for making the network worth your while (and not another time sink).
It’s Been Said Before …
And I can’t stress it enough: you must be on Facebook.
- It’s free
- It’s easy to use
- It’s great for traffic
- It’s excellent for community building
I’m sure you already have a personal account on the network because let’s be honest, who isn’t on the platform – but do you have a fan page set up for your website? If not, you’ll want to dig deeper into this post because the tremendous opportunities presented by Facebook (both free and paid) can do some serious lead generation for your affiliate offers.
Though, one word of warning: Facebook has implemented features like EdgeRank which limits your ability to reach your fan base. There is a workaround by asking your subscribers to change their page settings, but you may need to invest some coin into the promoted posts to get heard.
Fan pages aren’t much different than your personal page except for a few additional features to add applications and do a bit of self-promotion.
The platform comes with basic analytical tools, so you can track your updates (more on that later). And, as a final note, Facebook is getting bigger with each passing day and it doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon which means you’re not just localized in your market – you can go global (if you wish).
Getting Started with Facebook for Social Media Marketing
As mentioned: the core of using Facebook for traffic comes from using a fan page.
Yes, there are other options such as:
- Paid advertising
- Promoted posts
- Developing Facebook apps
But the heart relies on the humble fan page which acts as a platform for your message and community; it’s the same as your personal page but you have greater control over the message.
Setting Up a Facebook Page
First, go over to Facebook and choose the type of fan page you will create.
Most likely it will be for ‘Brand or Product’.
Select a category from the drop-down list, enter your page name, agree to the terms, and click ‘Get Started’.
Following the basics, add the following:
- Profile image
- Basic info (about the page, page link, representative question)
- A vanity name for your page (URL)
Once you’re through the guided process (and dig into the short tutorial upon creating the page), you’ll want to include a few basic graphics and pieces of information to fill out the rest of your page:
- A cover photo
- Page tab images (if you can use these)
I’d recommend going with a banner image that packs a punch because it’s one of the first items people notice when joining a page. Likewise, you should take a few moments to tweak the tabs, you’ve added, to use pictures which also give it a far better visual design.
Play with the platform for a bit. Don’t worry about what you post – just learn how to do things. You don’t have followers at this time and any post you place up there can be deleted before you start promoting the page.
Got it? Great.
Now it’s time to move on to building the community around your page …
Creating a Facebook Community: The Basics
Like any online platform – the only way you’ll get followers is by letting people know you’re present on the platform. Luckily, since you’re an affiliate marketer, you have plenty of assets to tap which will give you that initial influx of subscribers.
Consider each of the following to build the base:
- Using email marketing tools to share updates with your list
- Including the fan page link on your website
- Using other social media accounts to promote the page
- Adding a byline to your emails
- Linking the page when you’re guest posting
A word of the wise: people want to land on a fan page that’s packed with content, not a ghost town. For this reason, you must update your page quite often, get people engaged, and share some awesome stuff. People noticing a page that’s active will feel far more compelled to join than one that only displays offer with very little likes and shares even if they’re part of your existing community (because who wants to join a ‘party’ if no one’s ‘partying’?)
The building part of your community comes from the engagement. As mentioned, Facebook has implemented an ‘EdgeRank’ system which basically means that if people aren’t active in your community – you’ll have a harder time reaching them next time.
I recommend mulling over these two, previous, resources for community engagement:
- Facebook content ideas to increase engagement
- Facebook graphics cheat sheet for spicing up a page
Again, I would recommend looking at the brands that are doing well on the network and seeing if you can replicate some of their styles into your work.
They do things like:
- Ask questions
- Upload pictures
- Conduct polls
- Have contests
- Respond to people
Treat it like a website.
In which you control the message all-the-while users can share their own thoughts on the matter.
Working the Facebook Platform for Traffic Goals
So, let’s jump ahead to using the platform for traffic generation.
There are quite a few options but let’s be honest here: you probably only have time (and a budget) for the essentials currently (since you’re not a mega, global brand … yet).
I would recommend starting with the following before going the next step:
Getting used to sharing content with your followers
Make it a point to share something every day, at least. Track what pictures, videos, links, and questions work for your community. Repeat what’s effective and drop the others.
Use the regular updates to push free information but, on occasion, share reviews and other money pages that include hard sells for offers.
Using Facebook apps to increase engagement
Answer questions and comments that appear on your feed but don’t forget direct messages and items shared on your page as they aren’t always noticeable. These quips of conversations can do wonders for building a solid community willing to share your information and check out your offers.
Networking and promoting your page through external assets
Like in the building process, use your external assets to bring people to the page and get them participating. Other mediums don’t have nearly as much interaction (emails, blog comments, etc.).
Use the fan page as a launching point for new ideas, small-scale tests, and new offers.
Cross promotion with other brands using fan pages
Like all good networking, playing fair, making connections with other affiliate marketers on Facebook operating pages, and those within relevant industries can be a great way to do a bit of cross promotion to reach segments of your industry – try teaming up.
Pay $5 – $15 to promote your post to basically everyone on your list and then some. This option is good for when you’re doing a big product launch but can also aid in branding when you consider fit.
Keep Testing, Keep Trying
Use each status update and test to improve your knowledge of the platform. Don’t be afraid to experiment and go outside the “best practices” because your community will be wildly different than most examples you find covered on blogs.
A Facebook Advertising Primer
Advertising on the Facebook platform is a monster and warrants an entire post to its own; of course, we do have a good amount of resources on this topic which can be found here.
For the lazy:
FB advertising gives you plenty of options to segment your message based on many elements of demographics. The cost of running a campaign is generally inexpensive and you can choose multiple outcomes for the campaign whether it’s driving people directly to a page or used to increase likes on your page.
For now, in terms of getting started, keep the free route and learn the platform. Expand into advertising after you begin to see a return on your investment when using the network.
Final Words and Wisdom about Facebook Traffic Generation
Adding Facebook to your list of assets can be somewhat of an annoyance because it’s a lot of time needed to learn, interact, and track, which could be going to your important business items – but you shouldn’t dismiss the network.
When used correctly – you’ll find that Facebook will begin being a very powerful tool for traffic and community engagement. Your benefits will grow, exponentially, as your subscriber count increases.
Spend the next hour, or so, and get setup with a fan page (if you haven’t). Play with the platform for a bit and learn what you can but remember that doing is far more educational than just reading.
How to Get Traffic & Engagement from Twitter
Twitter. The standard for microblogging.
Twitter’s best use is through its ability to instantly put you in touch with like-minded individuals within your interests, topics, and industry. Over the years, Twitter has evolved beyond its simplistic beginnings and has set itself as one of the most useful tools for small and large businesses to reach their desired community members.
Though Twitter is still primarily a tool for personal communication – it certainly packs a punch when used for traffic generation.
In this article, I’ll take you through a short-and-sweet guide on getting started with the platform, strategies for building a following, and the various methods you could be using to drive the Twitter community deep into your site.
The Attraction of Twitter and Social Media Marketing
What made Twitter such a valuable resource for traffic generation?
Like all great things on the Web, it didn’t take long for marketers to see the potential embedded in Twitter due to the fact that it’s both free and easy-to-use. In no time at all, millions of individuals flocked to the microblogging platform to connect with one another and with it came a slew of big and small brands vying for the attention of their respective communities.
In the past, the Twitter platform has been exploited for personal gain but we’ve seen a big shift away from bots and Tweet spam. Today, Twitter is a valuable, real asset for anyone willing to take the time to learn the platform and interact with users – it’s become the perfect inbound marketing tool.
For your marketing, Twitter presents plenty of opportunities that are quite visible up-front, including:
- Feedback and gaining opinion about your work
- Networking potential with other industry professionals
- Keeping up-to-date with news within your niche
- The ability to drive traffic to your site
- Joining larger discussions and leaving an impact on your brand
But, alas, I don’t think I need to get too deep into the why of Twitter because it’s been around long enough that you understand the benefits of the platform. Instead, let’s focus on the how …
Getting Started with the Twitter
The Twitter platform has gone through quite a few changes since the early days and the biggest improvements has come from new technologies which allow users to set up profiles through a guided approach which means if you’re not yet on the network than everything will be spelled out for you as you get started.
The process is as you’d expect:
- Sign up for your account using login credentials
- Upload a profile picture
- Write in your profile biography
- Include additional visual elements such as a background and header
- Get Tweeting
I don’t think I need to get into the specifics on this one in terms of the basic setup because you’ve done these steps time and time again with other networks. Get on over to Twitter, sign up for an account, and confirm your email (at least for now).
The three items you may be hung up on are the graphical elements (though I don’t think these will pose a problem, either).
Here are the dimensions to work with (though you could always upload larger images and crop them once they’re on your account):
- Background: 1280 width, 66 – 194 height (if you want a left “sidebar” image)
- Profile image: 128 x 128
- Header: 1252 width, 626 height
I’d say to play around with these design features and incorporate the graphics which represent your brand.
For the profile image, try to stick to your face if you’re running a personal business otherwise a logo can work fine for the majority of accounts.
The background is a good way to make an impact.
So, go with the colors that users would find your website (and consider adding a few other touches to spice up your page – take a look at these examples for inspiration).
The header, a relatively new item to the mix, acts much like a landing page header. Try to use it to expand on your profile picture and create a bit of design mix which gives it a very visually appealing look.
The First Tweets
Now that you’re all set with the account, it’s a matter of playing with the platform.
You can read a laundry list of things you should be Tweeting, best practices, case studies, and so on, but I feel that your best entry into this platform is to play with it for a few hours to understand the nuances of the network.
- Do a few updates such as announcing yourself on the network
- Find a few friends and associates to follow
- Test out the direct messaging (DM), hashtag (#), and ‘@’ functions
- Use the search feature to dig up some recent updates about your industry
You can read all you want about the network but the best way to get started is to dive right in.
Developing Your Following and Twitter Marketing Strategies
Now that you’re set up and ready to roll with Twitter in your marketing – it’s time to start building a following and implementing a few marketing strategies.
The number of Twitter tools is astounding; I would recommend freshening up by using social media tools to get a basic understanding of what’s out there. The most useful Twitter tool I recommend is TweetDeck which gives you a full interact and a good bit of tools for managing your Twitter account and feeds.
The Early Twitter Followers (and Beyond)
Twitter is really however you make it.
Many marketers feel the need to build a massive following to compensate their time with the network while others keep the microblogging service as a networking tool for just a handful of individuals. I would recommend that you find a comfortable medium between the two; don’t worry about massive numbers but, instead, focus on building that core set of followers that are more likely to engage with you rather than ignoring the message.
Here are a few ways to get situated in your following:
- Import contacts using during the initial Twitter setup
- Seek and find community members on the network
- Include Twitter links on your site, emails, and other social networks
- Use tools like Twellow.com to find relevant industry professionals
- Look at the competition and follow a few of their followers
You’ll find the first 100 followers to be the most difficult; beyond that, it seems to take a life of its own because your follower list will grow as you’re present on the network and you get your Twitter profile out into the wild through various Web platforms.
I know this sounds like it would take forever but just focus on building one new connection on your Twitter account each day; in a year you’ll have a very, very solid following that you’ve cultivated.
The Marketing Side of Twitter
So you’ve built your initial list of followers, got a good grip on the platform, and want to begin tapping its potential for driving traffic – good stuff, here’s how …
Share great content and talk with people.
Like any social network, it’s a value exchange. People either want information or entertainment. They want value out of the time they spend on their connections.
If you’re looking for something concrete, here are a few tips:
- Work on building your authority in your industry by sharing great information
- Network with industry leaders and pull them back to your site for interviews
- Ride on the coattails of trending topics in your industry to chime in on the discussion
- Start hashtag discussions as part of your normal routine
- Share other people’s content, let them know you did, see if they’ll reciprocate
- Spend time digging into profiles, visiting a follower’s site, and send an email
So, in essence, you’re sharing and receiving valuable information, conversations, or networking potential for business. You can certainly do some searches and find additional strategies for the network but keeping it at its core usage (which is, you know, social) is more than enough to utilize the platform for traffic generation.
One last note: Avoid using direct links to affiliate product if you do a promotion as it’s generally frowned upon within the Twitter community. Instead, point people to your landing pages or rich content that include these links.
Final Words and Wisdom about Twitter Marketing
Twitter is quite an anomaly when it comes to social networks. Who would have thought that a limit of 140 characters would pass as acceptable? Well, it did, it’s here to stay, and it’s a great platform for connecting with great people and sharing/receiving excellent information.
The initial setup of your account can be knocked down in just a few hours; A few more hours to learn the platform are highly recommended. From there, it’s all about consistency in your message and usage of the platform – curate the content so you’re only sending out the best links, start real conversations, and don’t get too overwhelmed by the sheer volume of noise that comes with the network.
Play with the network because that’s what it’s there for. Build up your traffic by getting your message out there, send people to your money pages, set up cross-promotional efforts, and most importantly: be social.
How to Get Traffic & Engagement from LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a professional social network that has quickly engulfed the world of business, online and offline.
The network is jam-packed with amazing business-focused individuals promoting their personal and associated brands, sharing informative content, and striking deals through connections.
No doubt, LinkedIn has become a powerful tool for building business relationships and an even greater asset for social media marketing and conversions for online businesses.
In this post, I’ll take you through the basics of getting started on LinkedIn and the strategies for turning your usage of the network into a machine for generating new site visitors.
Here we go …
The LinkedIn Connection
LinkedIn has been growing by leaps and bounds; it’s quickly turning into one of the most powerful forms of networking we’ve ever seen in our business society!
Gone are the days of stacking a pile of business cards in order to organize them into a Rolodex. No more flustering with your phone trying to take down contact details. Everything has been pulled under one roof, LinkedIn, and it’s your best bet at creating powerful business connections.
Unlike other social networks which rely on gimmicks to engage users (such as silly cat pictures) – LinkedIn houses best and brightest in their respected fields and tapping into these connections go well beyond the one-off traffic spike: you’re reaching real connections with the movers and shakers which will lead to traffic and conversions beyond any other social platform you’ve jumped on.
So, the question becomes: how would an affiliate get started on the network?
The Basic Usage of LinkedIn: In a Nutshell
LinkedIn is different.
You’re not there to:
- Shamelessly your products left and right
- Blast endless amount of content to followers
- Update your feed with stupid pictures
- Overload your account with worthless connections
LinkedIn is about business.
Go ahead and start a profile on LinkedIn, and take the tour through the platform by playing around with some of its features for a half hour or so.
Once you’ve settled the initial excitement and prospect of the network – begin adding some of the important profile features, including:
- Profile picture
- Professional Headline
- A background (summary)
- Work experience
- Contact details
If you’ve ever filled out a resume/CV than you’re accustomed to these items; it would actually be quite easy to have your resume loaded and present while you fill out the main elements if it has been updated as of recently.
A few features that help your profile stand out include the ability for other members of your network to endorse your skills, adding presentations to your work experience & projects, and purchasing an upgrade on your account which gives you additional features for contacting individuals and building your profiles.
Note: It’s not necessary to upgrade in order to get what you want out of LinkedIn but it certainly aids in your usage of the network if you’re on it frequently.
Connecting and Networking
Think of LinkedIn as a giant conference event with millions of other individuals.
Just like a conference, you wander around looking (searching) for potential business connections.
From the get-go, you can pull your connections through import features using email and linking to other social profiles but it’s the search features that allow you to dig into the network to find other individuals within your field, seek employees for your business, or scope the competition.
In time, LinkedIn will give you suggested users which will most likely be within your extended network which will aid in the growing of your potential when using the platform.
A word of note: Grow slowly. Don’t turn your LinkedIn profile into the next Facebook. Connect with people that matter than just for the sake of building your connection count.
Besides importing connections, you’re more than welcome to add a LinkedIn badge to your website or manually connect with people through personal contact.
That basically wraps up the basics of getting started on LinkedIn but there is still a whole load of features waiting to be explored and tapped for traffic and conversions …
LinkedIn for Social Media Marketing: The Important To-Do’s
LinkedIn can be a very powerful traffic source for your business if you remember to treat the network and its users with respect. After all, the individuals on the network are fellow business associates which have a whole lot of moving power compared to the hit-and-run website visitor; these individuals can quickly spread the word in (or out) of your favor.
Here are a few ways you can begin tapping LinkedIn for traffic:
- Groups – Browse and find groups relevant to your niche and industry; begin sharing your thoughts, opinions, and answers to questions found in the discussions. Use your website links as additional resources when answering questions and do a bit of self-promotion but generally rely on having other message or browse through your profile to do the hard selling.
- Direct messages – Found someone that matches your goals in business? Give them a message about how you’d like to connect. Consider doing an interview with this individual to create great, engaging content on your website. Deliver them a valuable experience and they will repay the favor.
- Post comments – Use the feeds to share your thoughts about information shared within the network. Keep coming back to answer responses. In essence, try to appear extremely active within the groups and community, at large, to keep your name in the minds of those within your industry.
- Recommend and endorse others – Notice a skill offered by a connection that’s accurate? Let others know through an endorsement. Likewise, recommend fellow members of the network to those seeking individuals for hire. Aiding an individual in landing new work will quickly get you on their priority list of great individuals.
LinkedIn is built like most of the other social networks with many similar features so you’re most likely very adjusted to connecting with others and forging relationships.
However, it’s advised that you take your time when building your presence as you’re present in front of many other business professionals. So, act on your best behavior and allow your connections to grow organically.
In time, as your connections grow, you’ll find your traffic generation will steadily grow as your connections share your content among groups and within their feeds. Likewise, these connections will open plenty of great opportunities to work on business ventures and promotional campaigns, together.
Develop the Meaningful Connections that Matter
It can’t be stated enough: in order to get real traffic from LinkedIn, you should build real connections.
Facebook is great for building a general community, Twitter makes its mark for the one-off conversations, YouTube for reaching a new medium, but it’s LinkedIn where some of your greatest potential for generating traffic and conversions will come from so treat it with great care.
Give LinkedIn a shot.
How to Get Traffic & Engagement from Pinterest
Pinterest is a visual bookmarking social network where users submit ‘pins’ of their favorite interests.
The social network has exploded in popularity and web traffic and quickly blew past the biggest sites.
No doubt, Pinterest is a major source of referral traffic for many websites using the platform, correctly. Its effectiveness with social media marketing will continue to grow (even as search results are inundated with Pins).
Anyway… now is the ripe opportunity to claim your presence on this virtual pinboard.
In this edition of the Beginner’s Guide to Traffic Generation, we’re looking at a variety of methods and best practices for using Pinterest for traffic.
The Visual Pinboard Taking the Web by Storm
Though it seems Pinterest’s hype is starting to calm down, one can’t deny the massive growth of the network and its impact on websites and online businesses in just a few short years.
Pinterest’s concept is actually quite simple:
- Users submit and ‘pin’ images to their boards
- They can reshare and like other pins
- You can follow and be followed
Overall, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal seeing that almost all major social networks have some form of imaging sharing but the visual layout and audience has turned the site into something else.
It’s the community involvement, mainly the female majority, that has effectively given Pinterest such a kaleidoscope of interesting content. This is even in comparison to other social networks which have become slightly chaotic and messy (too much spam).
It’s becoming apparent that Pinterest is growing into a major referral source for online business … interested yet?
What Pinterest Means for Business Owners
In layman’s terms: Pinterest is a social network for the average Web user.
Unlike Twitter, Google+, Reddit, and the myriad of niche social sites, Pinterest is extremely intuitive and draws people of common demographics. An affiliate marketer should immediately realize the prime opportunity for spreading their message on the network because it’s extremely likely that your average customer may have presence on the site.
Of course, demographics aside, Pinterest is extremely easy to use and requires less commitment than many other social networks; you can jump over, pin a few pictures and links, and be on your merry way.
Pinning Pinterest for Traffic and Engagement
Before you begin: realize that Pinterest is about sharing fun and interesting content.
The users are vastly different than your past experiences on other networks and, with some similarity to those networks, people don’t want to have marketing messages crammed down their throat nor do they want to be spammed.
Pinterest is about bringing a visual experience to the Web (and site). The traffic will come and conversions will happen if you take the time to create a board that’s fascinating, funny, and engaging.
A hodge-podge of Pinterest tips
In no particular order of importance – here are a variety of additional Pinterest tips you may want to implement:
1. Share and comment on other pins that you like.
2. Pin some videos for more variety.
3. Make sure to use the Pinterest social sharing tools.
4. Embed a ‘follow’ button on your website.
5. Use plenty of pictures in your articles (to increase pin-age).
6. Study some of the bigger users on the network and see their engagement.
7. Compile your content into categories (each with their own boards).
8. Pull out your favorite quotes from past pieces and rework them as an image.
9. Create a few infographics and get them shared.
10. Integrate a promotional campaign or giveaway based around the site.
Pinterest is Here to Stay … Embrace It
Should every business be on Pinterest?
It’s hard to say. Businesses that are creative and visual (such as DIY websites) dominate the network but a business in manufacturing cups may not be all too engaging. But who knows!
It certainly can’t hurt to go ahead and claim your profile. Any experienced affiliate marketer will be able to find their way around the network and discover the best practices for their particular niche. Add in a bit of competitor research and read up on case studies and you should be primed and ready to go.
Its unlikely Pinterest is going away anytime soon. Sure, something new may come along to take away its thunder but you may as well explore the network while it has everyone’s attention.
How to Get Traffic & Engagement from Google+
Google has seen its follies when it comes to social media implementation.
Remember the whole Google Buzz and Wave experiments?
Though nothing can quite compare to the sheer size of Facebook.
It’s the latest rendition of social networking by Google that has been turning quite a few heads.
Tthe platform gives a fresh take on creating connections, sharing content, and doing business.
This is, of course: Google+.
Google+ has seen a great adoption due to an initial campaign which had the blogging community buzzed.
Before long, everyone was invited and Google quickly nabbed up a massive following through the integration of their existing user base of those using a Google account.
Google+ has seen a steady rise, though not as nearly dramatic as other networks, but it doesn’t make it any less of a viable source and tool for business.
In this guide, I’ll take you through the basics of the platform, you’ve probably barely touched, Google+, and how to turn it into something worthwhile (especially for traffic generation).
Getting Started with the Google+ Platform
If you have a Google account then you’re already on Google+ (minus the filled in profile information). For those that want to become active on the service – signing up takes just a few moments of your time.
You’ll feel a familiar design on Google+ as you’ve experienced on other major networks with the exception of a few design differences.
Once you’ve set up the account – go into your ‘profile’ and fill in the vital information including the introduction, occupation, demographics, and, well, everything you’ve come to expect when setting up an online profile.
Working Google+ for Traffic, Networking, and Conversions
Google+ is a social network so there are no “rules” to how to properly use the platform to promote your brand because it’s entirely dependent on what you want to make of it (and the community you’ve built).
There are, however, three immediate methods which provide a great set of benefits for building traffic back to your website (and closing the affiliate sale); these include:
Google hangouts is the best feature of the network.
It cuts out the need to use other services like GoTo Meeting or Skype.
The built in video chat service is excellent for gathering a group of like-minded individuals to discuss a variety of topics. A common usage for hangouts has recently been as a webinar format.
But, if selling isn’t something you feel comfortable with – the hangout feature is still an excellent way of getting in touch with people to start up interviews, ask for advice, or just chit-chat about business.
Anyone on the network can use the hangout feature and even jump into on-going hangouts which makes it a very valuable tool for injecting your message and being helpful to the community besides just producing content on your website.
The lines between social networks have begun to blur.
Cross-promotion to expose your brand and build links is the new norm.
Your Google+ follow may be entirely different than other social networks but your message may remain viable to these members of your community – for this reason, cater your work to speak to these types of users and omit the pieces that fail to gain traction with this segmentation of your followers.
Post image heavy posts to Facebook, short updates on Twitter, but in-depth pieces on Google+ to get a big discussion going – and then take it to the next level by hosting a hangout to discuss the topic. Use this time to promote your offers.
Use Targeted Messages
Divide your followers and connections into ‘circle’s so you can craft specific messages to these inner-groups.
Additionally, take some time to send direct, targeted messages to other individuals on the platform. Show your value to their brand, regularly reach out and ask if they need help in their projects, and wait for the favor to return when it comes time for them to make a move on the type of information you promote.
Noticed someone mention they have a problem? Send them your tutorial and review of the product/service that handled it.
The Long-Term Prospect of Google+ and Social Media Marketing
Google is doing quite a few unique things with their Plus platform.
It may not be as massive as Facebook but it certainly draws a group of professionals that want to avoid the dribble that has seemed to become the norm on Facebook.
The use of hangouts is a wonderfully implemented feature that’s sure to aid in building your business, and the authorship element (when linked to your site) can do wonders for building your brand.
In all, Google+ is a great place for building your business, connecting with great people, and driving said people back over to your site. It’s a traffic powerhouse if used correctly. You should be on it.
How to Get Traffic & Engagement from Forums
When is the last time you became a member of a forum?
Your mind is drawing a blank – isn’t it?
No worries, though, because forums aren’t exactly the hot ticket items as they used to be in the earlier days of the Web. This last while has seen forums die off because of new platforms touting new technologies for communication.
However, who said they were dead?
Better question: who said they weren’t a viable form of community building and traffic generation?
In this guide, I’ll share how to rediscover forums and turn your forum accounts into some of the most prized possessions in your affiliate marketing campaigns.
The Old Web is the New Web
Forums have been around for ages and although they do not possess the same level of engagement as modern social networks – they’re still thriving and contain tight-knit communities.
In fact, forum users are generally very active within the community because of the limitations imposed by forum software; there’s less fluff (on most occasions) and more discussion.
The best way to begin finding a forum in your niche is simply searching “Your Niche” + “Forum”.
Go on over to the site and input a few of your main keywords and sort through the lists.
Pay attention to the number of posts and members.
You’ll most likely want to get your start on one of the larger forums in your niche and then find your way into the smaller ones which give you a tighter connection to the members.
Finding (Active) Forums within Your Niche
There are a few criteria to take into account when you’re finding a forum:
- Active members
- Number of posts
- Categories (topics)
- Niche focus
Sure, you can jump on some of the massive forums that house millions of users but your message will most likely be lost in the chatter. Smaller forums provide a better opportunity to make your mark but they also have a greater chance of closing down due to inactivity.
Perhaps your best bet is to go somewhere in between – the middle – since the forum would be right at that moment before becoming too popular but still active enough to stay afloat.
Here are three in the world of affiliate marketing to give a go:
- SitePoint Forums
- Digital Point Forums
- Warrior Forum
The last of these, Warrior Forum, is one you’ve most likely stumbled across and although it is often littered with overly promotional topics – it still has a wealth of information and keen marketers that definitely know their stuff.
The Basics of Forums for Social Media Marketing
The short version: post and respond to interesting topics, fill out your profile, and be helpful.
The long version:
Forums are all about discussions and sharing information.
Most contain ‘general’ areas for any type of discussion and the rest will house specific categories. Furthermore, these main topics will often break down into smaller threads. You’ll find just a handful that you’ll be active on but think of them as your “home”.
This will be the areas where you build your expertise through the sharing and commenting of content. People will check out your profile, send you messages, show thanks, and get in touch if you have something good to say.
Forum Marketing Tip: Treat your content creation, on the forum, like you would on your website. Go for the ‘big’ wins through detailed tutorials and interesting discussions than just a one or two sentence questions.
The profile, like what you’d make on social networks, is how you represent your brand (outside of what you say).
There isn’t much you can place on most forum profiles but it’s enough to add in descriptions, links, and some additional information. Make the most of the space since its limited.
The other aspect will be your byline which can generally hold a link (this appears at the bottom of your posts).
Forum Marketing Tip: Pay attention to who visits your profile and go back to theirs; kick up a conversation and see if it leads to a better networking experience.
People dismiss forums far too readily because they are reminiscent to the older Web all-the-while placing their chips on a new social network that sprang up overnight.
The problem, in this picture, is that forums are still around because it’s a different type of individual.
Forum users aren’t really out there just to get more likes, shares, and comments – they’re there to help each other. If you get active on the forum – you should too. Dismiss going straight for promoting a product or traffic building and, instead, become an integral part of the community.
Become known for being helpful.
Your helpfulness will lead to a far richer experience on the forum and greater rewards when the visitors to your site and participate in a deeper manner than the one-off visitor gained through random social clicks.
Forum Marketing Tip: Go above and beyond for those you’ve built connections with on the forums. These individuals have already shown merit through their forum activity. Teaming with them can lead to many great opportunities in cross-promotion and joint partnership.
The Forum Social Media Marketing Element
The traffic will come.
Forums require a bit of dedication compared to other social networks as it takes time to establish your presence in the community, in comparison to just blanketing your message on many other networks, but it will be worth your while because the connections and relationships you form on the medium will be very powerful for the long-run.
Combine your willingness to share information with linking to your website in your byline. Fill out the profile and be a very helpful person. Do so and you’ll create a traffic source that will go beyond your expectations!
The Future of Social Media Marketing
It’s hard to say where social media marketing is going.
One thing we do know: You can’t avoid it.
Social media is one of the best investments you can make for your business.
- Creates engagement
- Drives leads
- Helps convert
What more can you want — especially since social media is free?
Of course, it takes some time to get into the swing of things. You’ll find your way around the platforms and what followers want. But, stick in there! It’ll all pay off in the end!