Social media is an important marketing channel for most businesses. It is one of the primary sources of referral traffic to websites and can generate prospects, leads, and customers. If you have an active social media presence, you are undoubtedly looking to grow your online presence, so you can benefit more from organic social media traffic.
This guide will discuss various strategies you can employ to grow a following on social media. I’ll start by covering some of the basic terminologies and look at the drivers that impact how social media companies operate. I’ll then share some of the strategies you can apply to grow your social media presence.
What is organic traffic
Organic traffic is the number of people who see your posts and content without any paid distribution. They reach your content based on organic searches or because your content appeared in their feed.
The great thing about organic traffic is that it’s free. Outside of content creation and promotion, there are no costs associated with organic traffic.
However, just posting great content with your organic audience is not enough. You need to create content your audience finds engaging regardless of the content style.
The battle between paid and organic traffic
Generating organic traffic through social media is tricky. Social media companies spend a lot of money creating platforms used by millions or billions of people. There are a lot of costs associated with maintaining and developing these free-to-use platforms.
Social media companies make money by writing business proposals selling advertising opportunities to companies that want to target people using their platform. It can be a lot of money.
Over time, social media companies restrict the reach of content published through their platforms to incentivize companies to spend more advertising dollars on their platform. The image below nicely illustrates how Facebook has restricted the organic reach of content over time.
Source: RAS Digital Marketing
It’s important to understand that social media companies generally restrict reach over time. So, a new platform like TikTok, for example, will have a high organic reach because its primary goal is user acquisition.
Once a platform has enough users, the company will generally start to restrict the reach of content published through their platform. That transition naturally occurs as the business matures and investors who have spent a lot of money growing the company want to see a return on investment.
There are three other things you also need to consider.
Firstly, different social media platforms have different rates of organic reach. Facebook and Instagram have low rates of organic reach. Most new platforms will have high rates of organic reach.
LinkedIn happens to have the highest organic reach for an established social media channel.
The second thing you should understand is that social platforms generally promote new features. For example, when Facebook and Instagram launched the Live feature, they wanted to get as many people using the feature as possible. The best way to incentivize people to use the feature is to increase the organic reach of that content.
The final thing to keep in mind is that social media platforms want to keep their users on their platforms for as long as possible. If people are using their platform, they see ads, and the social media company gets paid. As a result, you will always find it hard to get people from the platform to your content unless you pay.
How can you engage your organic traffic on social media?
In the previous section, I outlined some important considerations you need to consider if you want to engage organic traffic on social media. In the following section, I’ll cover some strategies you can apply to grow your social channels and get more people involved in your content.
1. Include social follow buttons on your posts
It’s a well-known fact that most people who visit your website leave and never return. To make matters worse, many of the people who return to your website fail to engage with your brand through a secondary channel.
Social follow buttons on your posts are a natural way to get people who are engaging with content on your website following you on social media. You can prominently display social follow buttons alongside your content.
2. Combine email and social media marketing
Email and social media are arguably two of the top digital marketing channels. You can funnel organic traffic from social media to a landing page where you convert them onto your email list. Or, you could add them to your email list and then drive them to your social channels.
You can create a social media funnel to turn your social media audience into email subscribers.
Creating a social media funnel is relatively straightforward. The first step is to consider the goals of your audience. You need to think about what you can offer that would help them achieve their goals. That might be an eBook, a white paper, or something else entirely.
Once you’ve decided on your lead magnet, you can create a squeeze page. When someone downloads your lead magnet, they’ll join your email list.
You can promote your lead magnet through your social media platforms.
There are many variations of this strategy. For example, you can apply the same framework to run a competition on social media.
There are many ways you can promote your social media channels by email. I recommend you include links, and actively promote your social channels, as part of your welcome email series.
You can also let your email list know when you are running an event on social media. For example, if you plan to do a live talk on social media, it would make sense to promote this event to your list.
3. Run retargeting ads
One of the best ways to generate new leads for your business and expand your audience is retargeting. To run a retargeting campaign, you need to add a tracking pixel to your website.
A pixel is a line of code that you can copy into your site’s header or footer section. It triggers cookies to track the visitors as they interact with your website. Pixels help you remarket your brand to the consumer who visits your site.
You can use retargeting ads to achieve a range of goals.
Source: Digi Consulta
E-commerce stores often use retargeting ads. The ad can often be the final nudge that turns a warm lead into a customer.
You can use retargeting ads to grow your social media profiles. After all, if they’ve engaged with your content in the past, they’ll probably engage with your content again.
4. Create a lookalike audience
As you grow your social media profiles, you’ll slowly realize that your followers share certain characteristics. They might be of a similar age, live in a certain region of the world, and have certain interests.
If you can find more people who share these same characteristics, there’s a decent chance they’d also be interested in your social media profile. They might even follow you, engage with your content, and purchase the products or services you might offer.
Social media platforms have long recognized this link. They make it very easy for you to target people who share your existing audience’s characteristics.
Source: DMP Manager
To create the Facebook Lookalike Audience, head to the Audiences and choose Lookalike Audiences. You can use tracking pixel information to create a lookalike audience. You can then refine your targeting. Once you’ve created your target audience, you can then run advertisements to your lookalike audience.
5. Optimize your social media profiles
Customers now are just as likely to look for your pages on Facebook or Instagram as they are to look you up on Google. In fact, according to one study, 52% of consumers discovered a business through Facebook. Many businesses find it easier to create and post on a Facebook page than to build a website. Facebook Marketplace is also fast becoming an alternative to traditional ecommerce sites.
However, this ease of entry also means that you will face more competition. As of 2019, there are more than 60 million business pages on Facebook. And just like Google searches, Facebook searches run on an algorithm that suggests people, pages, or groups based on a user’s location, interests, or previous search activity. This means you also need to optimize your social media profiles.
Here are are some things to watch out for as you optimize your social media:
- Profile and cover images: These should conform to each platform’s size requirements. Facebook profile images, for example, should measure 180 x 180 pixels, while cover photos should be 820 x 312 pixels.
- About section: This should contain relevant keywords about the products or services that you offer. Netflix’s About section, for example, reads: “See What’s Next in entertainment and Netflix original series, movies, TV, docs, and comedies. You can stream Netflix anytime, anywhere, on any device.”
- Business information: It should also contain correct information about your business, such as your business type, contact information, or website. Adding the correct website will help direct traffic to it.
Your social media accounts are often the first things your audience sees as they look for more information about your business. You need to make it easier for them to find your business on social media by optimizing your accounts.
6. Post when your followers are online
When you post content on social media, you can’t expect it to show up on your followers’ feeds right away unless you’re paying Facebook to boost your ads. If you want to ensure that your fans see your content without spending extra, you need to post it when your followers are most likely to be offline.
If you’re wondering when users are most active on social media, they tend to be online at the middle of the day, when they’re taking a break from work. However, you also need to post on the right day of the week if you want your content to be seen:
Source: Sprout Social
You also need to consider the industry where you’re operating. Posts from consumer goods businesses, for example, are more successful in the middle of the day, while the best times for media outfits are between 5 to 6 PM, just before the major networks air their primetime newscasts.
7. Post content that generates traffic and shares
While posting during the peak hours will give your content a better chance of being seen by your audience, it won’t help your brand a lot unless it engages your audience. Your content should be relevant, entertaining, and engaging. If you’re in the process of building a social media content strategy, you can follow this content mix:
- 20% brand-centric content
- 80% content that entertains or educates your audience
Later on, you can start engaging industry influencers and increase branded content. But for now, your content should keep your audience engaged. Here are some types of content that bring in the comments and shares:
- Images: Whether you’re promoting a product, showing off your (home) office, or just sharing a meme, images give your brand a visual presence.
- Blog posts: Sharing your company blog posts on your social media pages will amplify your site’s reach and boost your thought leadership. It’s better if you feature articles written by individuals or groups from different departments in your company.
- Videos: Both live-streamed and pre-recorded content attracts the attention of your audience and is a valuable source of evergreen content. It also allows you to cover a lot of information in a short span of time.
You don’t need to spend a small fortune on advanced recording equipment. Most smartphones and webcams nowadays are capable of taking images and videos with amazing clarity. What matters more, though, is creativity.
Final Thoughts on Organic Social Media Traffic
In this guide, I discussed how to grow your social media audience and engage that audience so you can generate organic traffic. I started by discussing some of the basic principles behind social media marketing. I discussed organic traffic and then discussed some of the drivers behind how social media platforms operate.
If you want to grow your social media profile, you need to understand the way social media companies operate. The best way to grow your audience fast is to take advantage of new marketing channels when they emerge and new features that social media platforms promote.
In the latter half of the article, I looked at seven strategies you can use to grow your social media presence. Those strategies included adding social follow buttons to your website, creating social media funnels, running retargeting ads, creating lookalike audiences, optimizing your social accounts, and posting engaging content. By applying these strategies, I’m confident you’ll grow your organic social media traffic.