The Ultimate Guide to Social Media For E-commerce

social-media-ecommerce

These days, everyone and their dog has a Facebook profile or page… literally.

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If a dog can gain a following on social media, so can you.

But even with the enormous popularity of social media platforms, some businesses still haven’t tapped into the potential they hold.

Others have made half-hearted attempts but haven’t taken advantage of social media for all it’s worth.

If you haven’t yet created a strong social media presence, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to build brand awareness, drive traffic to your site, and make sales.

Thankfully, it’s not too late.

Whether you’re an avid social media expert or a total newcomer to the party, you can still use social media to grow your business.

In this guide, I’ll help you understand why social media is so important to your success. Then, I’ll walk you through how to use it to drive traffic and to increase sales.

We’ll discuss proven social media techniques, and I’ll share some tips and tricks that I’ve found success with.

I’ll tell you how to pick which social media channels to use, and I’ll even teach you how to measure your return on investment for social media so you can make sure your efforts are paying off.

By the time you finish reading, you’ll know everything you need to know when using social media for e-commerce.

Let’s start by looking at why social media is so important for e-commerce stores.

Why is social media important for e-commerce?

Although search traffic is making a comeback, social media is still a significant driver of traffic for websites.

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Why have social shares dropped?

Users are now spending less of their time on Facebook and more of their time on video and live streaming content.

This type of content is less likely to link out to other pages.

So just because the number of shares seems to be going down, that doesn’t mean that social media is becoming less popular.

If anything, the usage of social media continues to grow.

You can see how the volume of activity on social media sites keeps growing year over year.

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This means the opportunity to drive traffic from social is alive and well.

According to current projections, 90% of businesses will be using some form of social media for customer service in just two years.

Social Media Customer Service Statistics and Trends Infographic Social Media Today

If you’re in the other 10% two years from now, you’ll risk losing customers.

Why?

Well, customers spend 20-40% more with companies that they have social media engagement with.

Last year, there were 2.46 billion social media users. This year, projections show that the number will rise to 2.62 billion. And just three years from now, there will be over 3 billion people using social media!

You can’t ignore a market that huge.

In the past, companies assumed that if their target market wasn’t teens or twenty-somethings, then they could ignore social media.

That’s no longer the case.

Social media is attracting users of all age ranges.

Ignoring social media is basically handing customers to your competition. If you want to stay in business, you need to adopt social media.

Consumers don’t just have social media accounts. They use them a lot.

On average, they use it for 2 hours and 15 minutes per day! That’s a third of their total online time. It’s also twice as long as any other online activity.

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This means that your ideal customer is spending more than twice as much time on social media as they are on shopping or browsing other websites.

Why wouldn’t you target them there?

How do you drive traffic from social media?

You can use social media for e-commerce in two different ways.

You can use it to simply drive traffic to your website (which I’ll focus on here), or you can use it to make sales (which I’ll talk about later on).

Social media is all about three things: connections, relationships, and engagement.

Remember that, and you can use it to drive traffic to your business.

Research shows that customers who experience positive interactions with your company on social media are almost three times more likely to recommend your brand.

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Can you guess where they’re going to make those recommendations?

You guessed it: social media!

And when someone says something about your business on social media, it has a much greater reach than if they just tell their coworker at the office.

So, how do you create positive interactions on social media?

Start by making sure you’re posting content that resonates with your target market.

People crave human interaction. 78% of customers believe that social media is the future of customer service.

Not only that, but 88% of customers are less likely to buy from you if you leave their social media complaints unanswered. If you don’t have a social media presence, how will you answer their complaints?

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But if you have a social media presence and you answer a complaint, you can turn it into a success.

77% of customers have improved their perceptions of a business after chatting with them online.

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Others will see that communication and resolution on social media. That means that you can improve their perception of you as well.

If you want to increase traffic to your site, you need to make sure that your social media content is timely and engaging.

And in order to be engaging, you need to share images, written content, and links to your website.

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Increasingly, it will be more important to share video content as well.

85% of companies plan on increasing their social media video content this year.

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If you want to compete, you will need to do the same.

While organic content can be successful, it can also take a lot more time and effort.

That’s why 94% of companies using social media have paid for ads and/or sponsored posts on Facebook.

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Also, 67% of companies said that they plan on increasing their social media advertising budgets this year.

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Here’s the bottom line: All but 6% of businesses are already paying for Facebook Ads (among other paid social media ads), and two-thirds of them plan on increasing their spending this year.

That should tell you two things:

Social media advertising works. You’re going to have to pay to play.

If all of your competition is investing money into social media to boost their visibility, you need to consider doing it, too.

Companies that have paid for social media ads are over twice as likely to report that social media marketing is very effective for them.

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So if you haven’t already done it, you should seriously consider paying for ads.

But that isn’t the only way to drive traffic through social media. Here are some other avenues you should take advantage of.

Facebook content

Articles that are between 2,000 and 2,500 words in length get more shares on Facebook than articles of any other length.

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Videos between 4 minutes and 4 minutes, 20 seconds in length get more shares than other videos.

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Of course, length isn’t everything. You need to produce high-quality content that captivates your audience.

Live streaming videos

Live streaming is a huge (and growing) form of social media.

Currently, users upload over 300 hours of video to YouTube every minute!

YouTube users enjoy a total of 1 billion hours of video content per day.

People clearly love video. But there’s something even more exciting than regular video: live video.

People in nearly every age category, from teenagers to those 55 and older, create and watch live video. Overall, 36% of Americans watch it, and 22% create it.

whos watching creating live streaming video

Live videos are good for more than just publicity. They will often lead to conversions, too.

Two-thirds of people are more likely to buy a ticket to an event after watching a live video about it.

Here are some other interesting reasons why you should consider using live video:

80% of people prefer watching a live video over reading a blog post. 82% of people would choose live video over any other type of social media post. Users watch live videos on Facebook 3x longer than recorded videos and they get 10x more comments. Over 36% of Internet users have watched a live video. Live.me is less than two years old, but it already has more than 20 million active users. And these users create over 200,000 hours of original content each day.

Why is live streaming taking the world by storm?

Viewers respond positively because of the immediacy and engagement it creates.

Live video creates an enhanced customer experience.

Most social media platforms now have native live streaming capabilities or easy integration.

Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Periscope, Twitter, Snapchat, Twitch, and Instagram Live are all great platforms for you to try depending on your customer demographic.

Always make sure you let your followers and fans know you’ll be live streaming beforehand.

Make sure your videos are authentic and informative.

Remember to breathe.

If you connect and build a relationship with your audience, they’ll not only become loyal fans. They’ll also become vocal advocates on your behalf.

Instant messaging

The popularity of messaging platforms is exploding.

Here are the three leading platforms and the number of monthly active users they each have:

WhatsApp: 1.3 billion Facebook Messenger: 1.2 billion WeChat: 963 million

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You can use artificial intelligence and chatbots to automatically increase engagement using messaging channels.

54.5% of those who use social media in the U.S. would rather use messaging channels than email, phone, and online chat.

89% of consumers say that they would like to use it to communicate with businesses.

67% of businesses have realized this and already plan to increase their messaging over the next two years.

I can tell you from firsthand experience that you can achieve an 88% open rate and 56% click-through rate using Facebook Messenger.

You can use messaging for the following types of communications:

Automating basic conversations Creating a sales funnel Pushing out announcements Providing resources Sharing new content

A chatbot can automate your sales, help desk, complaint department, and more.

Messaging can take past social media content and share it for customer service.

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories has over 250 million daily active users.

It’s growth and popularity far outpaces that of its competitor, Snapchat.

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About 50% of businesses on Instagram post at least one Story each month. 20% of those Stories generate at least one direct message.

That’s a great engagement rate for social media!

The Story feature allows users to post videos and photos that disappear in 24 hours.

You can even use the Story feature to create simple polls to collect valuable customer data.

It should definitely be part of your social media strategy if your target demographic is on Instagram.

How do you sell via social media?

Are you looking to use social media for selling rather than just raising awareness or increasing brand loyalty?

If that’s your plan, you can definitely succeed with it. There are several methods for selling on social media.

Your success partially depends on your target customer and which social media platform you use.

Don’t forget that a customer needs to be “ready to buy” before any of these tactics will work. You can use the strategies from the last section to help move customers through to this phase.

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Businesses know that social media is all about being social.

It makes sense to use it for traffic building tasks, such as increasing engagement and brand loyalty like we talked about in the last section.

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But, you can certainly use it to sell, too.

You need to start by building engagement. That’s why we focused on traffic first.

Once you have begun driving traffic, you can incorporate some of the following strategies to convert traffic to sales.

Paid advertising

Social networks such as Facebook and Instagram have been updating their algorithms to personalize content.

This means that getting your products visible is going to increasingly require the use of paid ads.

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If you’re setting up your first paid Facebook Ad, then check out my beginner’s guide.

Is your target audience on Twitter? I’ve compiled resources for setting up paid ads on that platform, too.

Paid marketing expert Larry Kim advises you to make sure you only pay to promote your top content for the greatest success.

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Remarketing

Remarketing is the process of continually targeting a customer over and over across multiple platforms.

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You might think that this would creep a consumer out, but it’s actually the opposite!

Wordstream found that conversion rates increase with more ad impressions.

I recommend that you filter your remarketing cookie pool of customers even further by their recent browsing history, interests, and demographic data.

But, for now, it’s only possible to execute the strategy on Facebook and Twitter.

Remarketing ads receive three times more clicks and are four times more likely to convert new customers.

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In-app purchases

There are now “in-app” ads that allow you to purchase without ever leaving the social platform.

You can set up shopping carts on your Facebook page with an app like Ecwid.

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You can then offer a Facebook user the ability to check out without the hassle of leaving the site.

They can even choose to save their credit card information so all future transactions are simply one-click.

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Pinterest also offers a “Buy It” button.

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This can be a great tactic to lift your sales because it makes the mobile shopping experience smoother.

It’s especially attractive for capturing impulse buyers.

Here’s an infographic showing which types of products tend to sell best on the different social media platforms.

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Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing yields an average return of around $7.65 for every $1 you spend.

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84% of polled marketers describe it as an “effective” strategy.

67% found it so effective that they plan to increase their budget for it.

Influencers created 86% of the most-watched beauty videos on YouTube. This means that the actual beauty brands themselves only created 14% of them!

70% of teenage YouTube users trust influencers more than traditional celebrities.

But the effectiveness of influencer marketing goes beyond videos. On Twitter, there’s a 5.2x increase in purchase intent when consumers see tweets from both brands and influencers.

Just under half of Twitter users (49%) say they rely on recommendations from influencers.

40% have made a purchase solely based on a tweet from an influencer.

Influencer marketing is the fastest growing method for gaining customers.

fastest growing customer acquisition method

Most consumers readily receive recommendations from those who they view as social media celebrities.

92% of consumers trust recommendations from individuals they don’t even know more than they trust recommendations from brands.

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User-generated content

It’s important that you make your followers feel special and that you focus on creating engagement.

One way to do this is by using plenty of user-generated content.

You can announce that you will feature your customers in your profile description like bikiniluxe.

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Frank Body relies heavily on adding user-generated content to their Instagram feed.

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Instagram

68% of users are engaging with brands regularly on Instagram.

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According to research from TrackMaven, the engagement ratio (which is interactions per post per 1,000 followers) on Instagram is eight times greater, on average, than it is on any other social media marketing platform.

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The other huge advantage of Instagram is that it’s one of the few social media platforms that marketers haven’t yet saturated.

Any followers you get are much more likely to see your unpaid posts than followers on Facebook.

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On top of that, an Instagram follower is worth more.

The average order value on Instagram is $65.

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Lilly Pulitzer leverages Instagram’s location feature in the post below. image16 1

It serves as a soft reminder to navigate to their homepage and follow the link to their e-commerce store.

This is a good way of getting e-commerce sales from Instagram.

You can also use third-party tools, such as Like2Buy, to make your Instagram feed shoppable.

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Instagram is especially effective when it comes to selling e-commerce products that are visually appealing.

Instagram storefronts are great for driving sales directly from Instagram without spending money on advertising.

If you want to get started today, you can easily find integrations and plugins for most e-commerce platforms.

For example, Shopify offers a free plugin called Instagram shop by Snapppt.

Just keep in mind that you should never post too many direct product photos in your Instagram feed. It can appear too salesy and ruin your integrity with your audience.

Pinterest

Pinterest is an incredible platform for driving sales, especially for e-commerce products.

The e-commerce brand WallNeedsLove leveraged Pinterest to drive 94% of their social media traffic.

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I’ve used it to drive 328% more sales for one of my e-commerce clients using Buyable Pins.

Buyable Pins allow users on the site to buy your products directly on Pinterest without ever leaving the site.

They work flawlessly on mobile, too.

And it’s free to set up Buyable Pins!

Tips and tricks for improving your social media

We covered how to drive traffic and sales on social media.

Now, I’ll share tips on how to do it even better than the competition!

Use automation

If you’re going to use social media, you need to automate it as much as possible.

Why?

First of all, 60% of customers who complain to you on social media expect a response within one hour.

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Even worse, 88% of people are less likely to buy from you if you don’t respond to their complaints on social media.

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The only way you’re going to meet these expectations is by setting up auto-responses or chatbots.

You could try living on social media constantly, but how would you ever have time to run your business? Plus, it would be too easy to miss a compliant if your feed is active. Automation is the only realistic option.

Keep mobile in mind

I told you earlier that video, especially live video, is exploding.

What you should also know is that a huge percentage of people watch videos on their phones.

By 2020, 75% of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video! This is a trend you should begin tapping into now.

Facebook advises that creators should provide video in vertical format. According to them, people rarely turn their phones sideways to view videos.

Mobile video viewers seek convenience, community, and relevance.

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Keep this information about your viewers in mind as you create content.

Be social

To get the most out of social media, don’t just go for the constant hard sell.

Spend 80% of your time sharing industry news or cool stuff. You should only use 20% of your time to plug your product.

Why does this work?

If you just plug your site or products in every status update or tweet, you’ll find it very hard to engage fans and create interaction.

You can think of it like this:

80% of your social media marketing should interact with your users and share news, tips, or cool stuff. 20% of your social media marketing should showcase your product.

Other tips

Double down on one or two channels only.

Use thoughtful, conversion-oriented content.

Also, include social sharing buttons on any content you post outside of social media (such as on your blog).

If you want even more ideas, check out these 21 additional tips and tricks.

Choose which social media platforms to use

Each social media platform is different.

You need to understand the sales process of your audience and create a social media strategy tailored to the demographics of each platform.

Here’s a quick overview of several social media platform and their specialties.

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In particular, you should take note of the following:

Pinterest is great if you have a predominantly female audience. Twitter has the largest penetration in the U.S. Facebook users primarily access the site on mobile. Instagram is all about visuals. Google+ has 300 million active users. LinkedIn is primarily for B2B.

Make sure you’re not wasting your time, money, and effort on a platform that simply doesn’t match your business.

Make sure your social media efforts are working

It’s critical to understand how well your social media marketing is working.

Without knowing this, you have no idea whether you’re throwing away time and money or if your efforts are truly boosting sales.

However, most businesses who use social media struggle to quantitatively measure their effectiveness.

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B2C marketers, in particular, seem to be slightly more confident that they’ve chosen measurable metrics that align with their goals.

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Even still, only 43% know that they’re successfully measuring the ROI of their efforts. A shocking 23% seem unsure about what they’re measuring.

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Engagement is the top way that most companies have chosen to measure ROI from social media advertising.

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Why don’t more companies do this?

It’s not always easy to tie your efforts to your results.

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How do you get around this?

Link social media accounts to your website when possible to track results across platforms. One way you can do this is by using a Facebook Pixel. Pick quantifiable measures, such as the number of shares, comments, retweets, etc. Track your social media efforts, website traffic, and sales over time to see if they’re both trending the same. (For example, does traffic go up when you run an additional ad?)

The third way isn’t foolproof. Keep in mind that sales could have jumped for any number of things and the timing could have just been coincidental. But over time, trends are good indicators of how effective your efforts are.

Conclusion

In today’s world, social media is a huge part of everyday life for most people. It presents a great opportunity for you to spread your brand’s name, make sales, and create loyal followers.

But many e-commerce businesses haven’t fully seen the benefits of social media because they haven’t fully invested in it. If that’s the case for you, it isn’t too late to double down on your social media efforts.

I’ve now shared with you the keys to successful social media for e-commerce.

You now know why it’s so important and how to use it to drive traffic and sales.

I’ve covered the benefits and traits of multiple platforms so that, as long as you understand your ideal customer, you can choose the platforms where they’re most likely to hang out.

I’ve also given you additional tips and tricks to put you ahead of the competition.

Finally, I shared with you how to monitor your ROI to confirm that your efforts are paying off.

You should now have everything you need to build social media into your marketing strategy. It’s up to you to put it into practice.

How are you taking advantage of social media for your e-commerce business?

The post The Ultimate Guide to Social Media For E-commerce appeared first on Neil Patel.

Read more: neilpatel.com

How to Get More Facebook Traffic by Posting Less

facebook-traffic

I continuously hear the same questions from my clients:

“How can I start using Snapchat?”

“Should I be posting more Stories on Instagram?”

These new platforms are obviously important. But my response is typically the same:

“Well, what are you doing with Facebook, first?”

Facebook might seem old and tired now. But it still tops the charts at nearly 2.2 billion people who are active at least on a monthly basis.

Of those, over 63% (or 1.4 billion) log into Facebook on a daily basis.

Going by the most recent tally, global penetration for the social network is an astounding 22.9%.

This means that more than one in every five humans is on Facebook.

It’s enough to make any marketer’s mouth water.

With so many people using Facebook, it would be natural to assume that posting more content to the social site would give your content more opportunities for users to see it.

But that’s not exactly how it works. In fact, it’s actually the opposite.

Wait. Why would fewer posts mean more reach? Does that even make sense?

Actually, it does. Here’s why.

Facebook’s new algorithm prefers quality over quantity

Your organic reach is the number of people who see your “free” posts.

And while there are strategies to boost your organic reach, it’s only getting harder and harder.

In fact, the vast majority of Pages have seen a continual decline in their organic reach over the past several years.

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Some suggest that the changes to organic reach reflect a shift in the company’s priorities as Facebook focuses on maximizing profits from its hugely popular advertising system.

The chart above shows how Facebook’s stock has increased while average organic Page reach has decreased, implying some sort of correlation.

Changes that Facebook has made to the News Feed algorithm mean that Facebook Pages can count on much less organic reach than before.

One of the specific changes to the algorithm pertains to how Facebook counts post views.

Previously, Facebook would count a post as a view if it merely appeared on a user’s News Feed even if that post never appeared on the user’s screen.

With the algorithm changes, a post must actually make it onto a user’s screen before Facebook will count it as a view.

It’s always been this way for paid (or “boosted”) posts, but it now counts organic reach in the same way.

This change would be significant enough to reduce organic reach.

According to a post from Mark Zuckerberg, they made these changes to the News Feed algorithm as part of a new direction for the platform.

They want to help Facebook users have more “meaningful interactions” on the platform by making sure they’re seeing content from family, friends, and relevant branded content.

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But here’s the bottom line:

Due to the overflow of marketing content on Facebook, the algorithm underlying the News Feed now prioritizes paid content over organic content.

This limits a Page’s ‘organic’ content from dominating the News Feed and allows users to see more posts from their friends and family.

Of course, their alternative is for you to pay to promote your posts.

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And Facebook has developed ways of weeding out all the noise so that only the trustworthy, informative, and relevant content remains.

For example, here’s a full list of posts they will automatically de-prioritize in users’ streams:

Posts with clickbait headlines: 13655727 1089557501139114 105245506 n

Posts in which you attempt to “engagement bait” the audience:

taco baiting

Posts that share fake news:

fake news

Posts that appear to be videos but really aren’t (“video clickbait”):

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Posts that link to low-quality websites:

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Posts that contain or reference outdated information:

outdated post

Videos that are extremely short:

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But wait, there’s more.

Facebook breaks the News Feed algorithm into four components:

Inventory, or the total amount of available content that could potentially show up in your feed Signals, or the various considerations about the content that determine whether it shows in your feed Predictions, or considerations about the person posting a piece of content Overall score

With the News Feed algorithm having undergone some pretty extensive changes and an overall refocusing, it’s a sink-or-swim situation.

You have to learn how to compensate for the new status quo. Otherwise, you’ll sink into News Feed obscurity.

But what if you want to actually grow your reach and gain more traffic? Is that still possible in lieu of the News Feed prioritizing in-network content?

It absolutely is.

And you can do it while posting less content on Facebook than ever before. Plus, by posting less content, you’ll save time.

Here are five tips to help you do this.

1. Familiarize yourself with how the new algorithm works

The “signals” are the only component of the algorithm that you can control.

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You can see some of the signals the News Feed algorithm essentially scores as it determines whether a post should appear in a user’s feed.

Some of the key signals include:

When someone posted a piece of content What type of content the post is How much engagement (e.g., likes, comments, shares) the post has gotten Who’s been engaging with the post

How, exactly, do you influence those signals?

Here are some of the bigger factors in Facebook’s algorithm:

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News feed visibility Interest or relation of a user to the Page Post performance (clicks, views, etc.) Past Page performance Type of content (text, video, etc.) Recency

If you want to improve your Facebook traffic, the first step is to familiarize yourself with these.

Then, focus on the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

For starters, you can create videos.

2. Start making videos and doing live video streams

Internet users have uploaded more video content online in just the past month than network television generated in 30 years.

In fact, online video now accounts for about two-thirds of all online traffic — a figure that could climb to 79% within the next two years.

According to current predictions, live video will account for 13% of all online video by 2021, which, in turn, could be over 80% of global web traffic and 85% of web traffic in the U.S.

To really put it into perspective, a single minute of video content is worth 1.8 million words.

And marketers have figured this out.

81% of businesses are already using video as part of their marketing and traffic growth strategies.

That’s a pretty substantial increase, as just 63% of businesses were using video in 2017.

Of those businesses that aren’t yet making video content, 65% of them have plans to start by the end of the year.

But does the demand for video really warrant such a heavy investment?

First, consider this:

Facebook wouldn’t be getting into original scripted content — much like rival platform YouTube has already been doing — if the company wasn’t confident in video.

500 million Facebook users — which, as you’ll remember, is roughly 25% of all Facebook users who are active at least monthly — watch some amount of video on Facebook every day.

And when viewers watch good videos, they love to share them.

In fact, 12 of the 14 most viral Facebook posts of 2017 were videos:

most viral facebook posts 2017 buzzsumo 50246

Perhaps most importantly, Facebook’s algorithms seem to prioritize video over non-video content.

A study from Locowise discovered this when they looked at 500 different Pages.

They found that when a Page posts a video, an average of 16.7% of their fans will see it.

Considering that the average for all types of content is only 11.4% of a Page’s fans, video clearly performs better.

Buzzsumo broke down the Locowise data further, noting that photos reach an average of 11.63% of the audience while links and text reach 7.81% and 4.56% of the total possible audience, respectively.

So, when a Page posts a video to Facebook, it gets substantially more reach than links, photos, and text content.

This goes to show that video is crucial when it comes to marketing in the Digital Age, and it will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.

For someone who wants to increase their traffic and overall presence on Facebook, video could be the secret to their success.

Video will give you the most bang for your buck, too.

If you plan to start making video content for Facebook — or if you want to make your current video strategy even better — here are a few simple tips to keep in mind:

Facebook users often watch videos without sound Since you can’t know whether your viewers will have the volume on or off, you should add captions to your videos to ensure that you get your message across This is something that I need to start doing as soon as possible considering the captions I use on YouTube don’t auto-play on Facebook Use a “square” — or 1×1 — format  Square videos perform better than a more traditional aspect ratio Whenever possible, record and export your videos at a resolution of 1080p, or 720p at the bare minimum, as videos often drop in quality when you upload them

You might also consider becoming familiar with Facebook’s best practices for live video.

3. Make sure your content is high in quality and offers real value

Unfortunately, your opinion of high-quality content doesn’t always matter.

Instead, it’s all in the eyes of your customers.

What content do they like to see?

What kind of content do they find most valuable?

What content do they find emotionally or intellectually engaging?

Take my audience as an example.

My audience consists of people who are looking for marketing and growth-hacking tips, so my content focuses on topics within that niche.

When I post a link to Facebook, I include a concise, accurate description that features particular buzzwords from the article so that my audience can quickly tell what the article is about.

The article itself follows all the content marketing best practices.

The paragraphs aren’t too long, I don’t use overly-complex language, and I break them up with plenty of visual elements.

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It’s not even about the web design.

The page is actually relatively simple, which lets readers quickly zero in on the real value: the content.

Most importantly, if you look back to my Facebook post, you’ll realize that it accurately conveyed what was in the article while still making the link enticing.

The trick is to use these click clues from your audience.

The relationship between you and your audience is a two-way street.

the evolution of digital marketing communications what it means for you in 2014 12 638

They give you feedback in the form of views, clicks, likes, and more.

That should give you an indication of what to do more or less of to meet their needs.

Ultimately, that’s what ‘relevance’ means.

idio Content Marketing Venn diagram

The good news is that it’s really not hard to create great content as long as you put the time and effort into your content development, creation, and marketing processes.

The bad news is that it takes a lot of time and money to do all of this.

But there’s potential for some pretty incredible payoff in the end.

According to recent estimates, content marketing will be a $300 billion industry by the end of 2019.

This is because companies are recognizing that the Internet is full of content, and the ones who have the best content are usually the ones that win.

So, pull other tactics into the equation to help supplement your workload.

According to the CoSchedule Rule of Thirds, you can curate as much as one-third of your total content.

rule of third curated content

When you curate your content properly, it can have great reach and audience engagement.

4. Actively engage with your audience

There are two critical Facebook traffic-generation concepts to master: reach and engagement.

Basically, “reach” refers to how many people see your post.

“Engagement” refers to interactions with your post, such as likes, comments, shares, and so on.

engagement

Obviously, both are important for different reasons.

It’s kind of a Catch-22:

You can’t get meaningful engagement without a big enough reach.

But you also can’t increase reach today without engagement.

And that’s a big problem because most Pages have way less organic reach with these new algorithm updates.

That’s why you need new ways to cultivate engagement every chance you get.

And one of the best ways to get your audience to engage is to have “meaningful interactions” with them.

It can be as simple as this:

When someone comments on something you’ve posted, respond to that person’s comment.

Actual interaction is great for increasing your Facebook traffic.

When you acknowledge a person, you give them a feeling of validation that causes him or her to be more likely to engage with your future content.

You’re building relationships with members of your audience. In turn, they become more likely to share your content with the hundreds or thousands of people in their networks.

Don’t overcomplicate this point.

For instance, I try to reply to every single comment I get on Facebook. Sometimes, I’ll even dialogue back and forth with users.

image 3

Each comment only takes a few seconds to write. But it shows people that I really care about what they’re saying.

The other benefit of this strategy is that it gets my audience to interact with their own comments.

I’ll jump in to help, and then other readers will also add to the conversation.

image

Social media experts like to throw around the words “engagement” and “community,” but they rarely explain what those words mean.

The best sign that you’re onto something is when your fans start to interact with each other.

And the only way that starts is by you taking the lead.

You have to do this day after day, week after week, month after month.

5. Promote the right posts at the right time

Fewer businesses are able to rely on organic reach alone with these algorithm changes.

But, at the same time, being smart with your Facebook advertising budget is more important than ever.

So, how do you know which posts you should pay to boost and which posts you shouldn’t?

Everything you need is right there in your analytic data under Facebook Insights.

When you use them strategically, boosted posts can have an immense effect on your traffic by increasing your reach and engagement.

It starts with creating a budget for Facebook Ads.

Now, this is a complex topic by itself.

Fortunately, I’ve already written all about how to create and spend your marketing budget. So start there, and then come back when you’re ready.

Once you set a budget, you have to decide how much of that budget you want to spend promoting the right posts.

Don’t just pay to promote every new post.

Why? You don’t know for sure whether those will resonate with your audience or not.

Instead, use the best posts from the past. Rely on your Insights data to figure out which posts are already your top performers.

Check out “Posts” to get a read on how current ones are performing:

Then, put your budget behind those to reach new audiences.

Facebook also introduced a new feature that lets you spy on the competition’s best-performing posts.

Look for “Top Posts from Pages You Watch.”

This strategy is perfect if your own Page is relatively small.

In that case, you might not have enough data to draw any real insights.

Instead, use data from other popular brands that your own customers might follow.

Let’s say that you have a new SaaS app for marketers, but you don’t have any followers just yet.

That’s no problem. Crazy Egg already has over 10,000 fans. Kissmetrics has another 40,000.

From these pages, you can get real, actionable ideas that others have already had success with. And you can find this data in about ten seconds.

If you have enough of your own analytics data, then you can use it to predict how your posts will perform if you deliver them to a larger audience.

If your audience liked a post and engaged well with it apart from you boosing it, then you can expect to see an increase in engagement if you boost it.

It’s really as simple as that.

When you adopt this practice of promoting only the posts that have proven to have high pre-boost engagement, you’ll find far greater success than if you haphazardly boost new posts that you haven’t had a chance to test.

For best results, avoid these practices

As I bring this post to a close, I want to point out some of the things you shouldn’t do if you want to increase your Facebook reach, engagement, and traffic.

Don’t post more than two or three times per day.

If you post more than that, your content will be competing with itself. Plus, it’s virtually impossible to enforce quality standards when you have excessive output.

Don’t exclusively post links to your own products and services.

Today’s consumers are savvier and can smell inauthenticity from a mile away. If you’re only posting your own products and services, it says that you’re more concerned with self-promotion than you are with your actual audience.

Don’t overuse hashtags.

You can use hashtags occasionally to punctuate a piece of content or to make it easily searchable. But audiences are actually put off by hashtags when you string lots of them together in a single post.

Don’t forget who your audience is.

Use the demographic data available to you and tailor your content to your actual audience.

By simply avoiding these practices, you’ll start attracting traffic to your Page in no time.

The best part is that these tips really aren’t that hard to implement.

You just need to think about what you’re posting, why you’re posting it, how you’re posting it, and who you’re posting it for.

Conclusion

If you’re trying to get more traffic to your Facebook Page, it’s natural to think that more content is better.

But you’d be wrong.

With Facebook’s new algorithm, organic traffic is difficult to come by. If you want to maximize your efforts, you need to focus on quality over quantity.

Start by learning more about Facebook’s algorithm so you can post content that will perform well on it. If you don’t, you’re flying blind.

Video content is huge on Facebook. If you’re posting less, you’ll find the best return on your investment by creating high-quality videos.

In every post, offer your viewers real value.

There is endless content on the Internet, so you need to post high-quality content to stand out and gain a loyal following.

And as your fans engage with your content, interact with them to build relationships and stimulate more engagement.

It’s a two-way street, and it takes time. But the following you’ll gain is worth the effort.

Finally, don’t be afraid to boost some of your posts.

But be strategic about which posts you boost.

Invest in the ones that you’ve already seen users engage with to ensure that you don’t waste your marketing budget on a post that won’t perform well.

Overall, it’s not difficult to grow your audience on Facebook. You just need to use the right strategies.

If you’re using the tips and tricks I’ve provided here, you’re well on your way to bringing in precious traffic while posting less.

How are you planning to increase your Facebook traffic by posting less?

The post How to Get More Facebook Traffic by Posting Less appeared first on Neil Patel.

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How to Write Compelling Meta Descriptions That’ll Boost Your Rankings

meta-descriptions

SEO is a tricky subject.

One minute you think you have it nailed and the next everything has changed.

And when you consider the fact that Google reportedly changes its algorithm 500 to 600 times per year, you start to see the problem.

The only constant in SEO is change.

This creates a never-ending pursuit of the coveted number one ranking.

But thankfully, there are elements that aren’t likely to become entirely irrelevant, which means you can focus on doing them well in the long term.

One such area is the meta description.

From the start, meta descriptions have been an essential part of a search engine results page and that isn’t likely to change.

So to help you capitalize on this important aspect of your SEO, I want to teach you how to write one that’s compelling and helps you boost your ranking.

But before we get started, let’s talk a bit more about how powerful these meta descriptions really are.

The power of a meta description

In general, meta descriptions have one very important function on a search engine.

That is, they provide a succinct description of the content of your webpage in conjunction with the rest of the metadata in your site’s HTML code.

And even if you don’t set one up yourself, most content sharing systems will automatically generate a meta description for you.

But that’s definitely not what you want, because it almost certainly won’t be as good as the one you create.

Before we go any further though, if you’re still unsure of what it looks a meta description looks like, here’s the one on my site to help clear up any confusion:

meta

As you can see, it’s just a short and simple blurb on the content I offer to my site’s visitors.

And if you look further at the HTML on my site, you’ll notice that it’s there with all of the other metadata to help show Google what the site is actually about.

meta description

Every single page of every single website has the ability to contain and share metadata, including the title, URL, and descriptions.

If they’re optimized correctly, they can be used to help Google rank pages.

And while this is just one element to highlight with your SEO, it’s important to understand why your meta description, in particular, makes a difference.

That means knowing how it affects your SEO and what elements are the most important to consider.

To help answer that question, you should start by knowing that not all elements of your metadata actually affect SEO.

Namely, Google has long held that the meta keywords tag doesn’t factor into SERPs.

These tags are embedded in the HTML of your site like everything else, and once upon a time, they factored greatly into SEO.

meta keywords example

But the practice of keyword stuffing from previous decades killed this trend long ago.

But everything else, including the URL, title, and especially the description can affect your page’s on-site SEO.

And surprisingly, the reason for that isn’t incredibly technical.

Because while Google does take into account your portrayal of your site’s pages, the real marker they look for is user behavior.

You see, they don’t just want to know what’s on your website.

They want to know if people are actually using it.

And since user behavior is affected by user experience, you start to see why meta descriptions actually matter for SEO.

Because of all of the elements of your metadata and the search engine results page, the meta description is the most potential-filled part of how you can start optimizing user experience while users are still off-site.

And with Google going into mobile-first mode, optimizing the user experience is more important than ever.

google mobile ranking factors

They want you to be able to provide turnkey moments that deliver on needs by educating, instructing, or showing off what you can do.

And even though it might be easy to miss, your meta descriptions are the frontline of that effort for organic search.

It’s a small part of your website that acts as a first impression, and that means everything when you’re talking about SEO.

Forge and Smith prove this with some fairly impressive results in an SEO case study of their client Sweet Georgia Yarns.

UX seo

By helping craft different elements of their SEO like meta descriptions, they’ve provided a 215% year over year increase in value.

All with just some words inside a line of code.

Think about what that could mean for your site, too.

And according to Google, this trend toward meta descriptions is only logical:

The general assumption under such an approach is that searching users are often the best judges of relevance, so that if they select a particular search result, it is likely to be relevant, or at least more relevant than the presented alternatives.

Google really wants to know what actions people are taking and why they are taking them.

Because they believe that users are the best measure when finding content that’s actually useful and relevant.

And it seems like they’ve found their answer in meta descriptions.

So you can rely on whatever content publisher you’re using to generate it, but that will only create gibberish.

Here’s an example that a marketer caught of an early iteration of Pepsi’s UK homepage:

Screen Shot 2016 04 21 at 23.11.03

As I said, this was a very early iteration of this site, and it’s since been fixed:

pepsi gb

But how much more interested and educated are you by the second as opposed to the first?

The second description gives clarity about what’s on the page and even provides helpful links to popular pages on the site.

And if Pepsi can go back and change its meta description, so can you.

You can also start writing good ones as you go, which will only make your site that much better.

As long as your focus is on making your meta description appealing so that users will want to click, you can’t go wrong.

Your goal should be to master this art so that you can do it quickly.

That’s why I’ve compiled a very short checklist for you with only four steps.

I believe that if you follow these guidelines, you can start creating the kind of meta descriptions that will help boost your rankings in the long run.

And to start things off, I want to talk about how long your description should actually be.

Step #1: Stop focusing so much on character count

Google recently updated their character limitations.

And if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought they set the world on fire.

Article after article has been published since then to analyze and break down what these changes mean for SEOs and businesses.

But in my opinion, focusing on character count alone completely negates the point of SEO.

Again, this is about human behavior, not just an authoritative word count.

So if you only focus on creating an optimal character count, you might see good results.

But I believe you’re better off focusing on the content itself, and there’s recent evidence to back this up.

SEMRush conducted an experiment to test this principle and found the variation of the meta tag they used that exceeded the 320 character count performed better and ranked higher.

meta description dynamic brodie clark

As you can see, the iteration of the description that performed better stopped mid-sentence.

This goes against the conventional wisdom that you must stay within the limits of your character count to perform better.

And while the psychology of this isn’t necessarily clear right now, it does lead to some interesting ideas that SEOs need to start considering.

More importantly, it reemphasizes Google’s vision that user experience in any form is the benchmark we need to consider first.

The statistics SEMRush shared only serve to reinforce that idea, too.

screen shot 2018 02 13 at 25859 pm

The longer description that continued above the character count limit saw an impressive 36% improvement in overall click-through rate from its shorter competitor.

So the results aren’t exactly a minor difference here.

And the implication is incredibly clear.

Focus on experience first.

And if you must focus on character count, shoot for around 300-350, as that’s where the majority of high-performing posts fall.

meta desc 2017 8 4609

But as you can also see, some of these pages ranked with as few as 150 characters.

And while the graph stops at 375, I’m sure you could find a meta description with more characters in just a few Google searches.

My ultimate takeaway here is that word count isn’t necessarily the best bar to consider when it comes to creating the perfect meta description.

Some pages will naturally be shorter or longer than others, and that’s okay.

As long as you’re accurately portraying the content on your page, you’ll be on the right track.

And even though Google will likely change things up again, I think the advice to focus on user experience is the only route that will truly stand the test of time.

Now that we’ve turned you away from your word count woes, let’s talk about the second simple way you can start expanding your description’s SEO.

Step #2: Be unique and interesting

If your descriptions are just so-so, they won’t be helping you get clicks or move up in the rankings.

And with user experience still acting as our litmus test for quality, not getting clicks is exactly what you don’t want.

So how do you innovate and find ways to get people to click?

Well, the ultimate application is up to you.

But there are certain practices you can implement in your writing that will help you be more compelling and get more clicks.

Let’s take a look at a few.

First and foremost, there’s a consensus that you should do your best not to be boring.

While that may sound tongue-in-cheek, I can guarantee you it’s not.

And when it comes to your writing, the best way to not be boring is to use the active voice.

active voice

As you can see in this example above, it has a very active voice that provides a momentous push for the reader.

You’re told what you can expect but without any unnecessary details that might bore the reader or turn them off.

If you’re looking for a simple way to help your SEO, you would most likely click on this link after you read it.

You’ll also notice that the example above is very specific and doesn’t contain any fluff.

This is especially important if you want to rank high in the SERPs.

And more importantly, you want to make sure that the description actually matches the content of the page.

For example, this meta description promises that I can find a wide variety of ways to help organize my home or workspace:

specific

What do I find when I click through?

Tons of options that promise a more organized life.

organize

That’s one of the reasons this page is ranked so highly for the simple, one-word search of “organizer.”

It matches my perceived needs closely and it follows through on the promise made in the meta description.

Do you see how this is still about the quality of your site’s user experience?

Another way you can add to this approach is by furthering your promise with a compelling call to action.

You can achieve this by simply giving your reader a straight shot:

CTA

Or, you can still provide a more thorough description with a call to action at the end to invite your reader to learn more:

end cta

As long as you talk to your audience and don’t just ramble on about yourself, you’ll find yourself in a sweet spot when it comes to meta descriptions.

For example, I like to give previews of the actual content on the page that I think will pique the interest of a more casual reader.

preview

Notice that this description has nothing to do with me, my brand, or what I sell.

It’s just a compelling excerpt from the blog article.

My ultimate goal is to signal value and further your interest, not necessarily get you to buy something.

So whatever you do, find a way to be unique and engaging to your audience.

If you simply provide technical details or go straight for a sale, you probably won’t be all that interesting.

And if you’re not interesting, you won’t climb in the rankings.

Step #3: Please use your keywords

You spend a lot of time generating keywords for your digital campaigns.

You put them in your blog posts, landing pages, and even in your product pages.

So why on earth would you not include them in your meta description?

Because nothing signals to Google sooner than your metadata what your page is about.

Not including a keyword in the meta description could be a fatal mistake.

Here’s a look at what including a good keyword might look like:

yoast meta

This is a top-ranked search for meta descriptions I found while researching this post.

As you can see, Google has highlighted every instance when the words “meta description” appear in the description.

Since they were part of my search term, this provides an early signal that the page can be useful in my research.

The keyword is used naturally and in a way that educates the reader about the page’s content.

The result is fairly clear since this was on the first page of results.

You can still use keywords to emphasize to Google what your post is about.

One of the best and easiest ways to do this for your own site is with the Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress.

focus keyword

By allowing you to set a focus keyword for every page and blog post, this tool makes the keyword implementation process simple.

The only other step you have to take is to make sure that you also use the keyword naturally in the copy and alt tags of your actual page.

This helps create continuity throughout Google’s crawling and subsequent ranking of the page.

And with the Yoast Plugin, you’ll also get a reminder if you forget to establish a focus keyword in the copy or meta description:

analysis

With a checking system like this, you’ll never neglect another keyword in your meta description.

As long as you conduct robust keyword research and try to rank for words that are appropriate to your brand, adding them to your meta descriptions appropriately is just the next logical step.

If you do it properly, you can be one step ahead of your competition and one step closer to the front page.

Step #4: Use more than just your copy

For newcomers to metadata, it can be easy to think that your Title, URL, and description end and begin with the default Google listing.

But this couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Google also allows you to implement structured data that lets you “beautify” your description on the search engine results page.

To give you an example, I want to show you a different version of the highly ranked Yoast page from the previous point:

yoast meta 2

When I made a more relevant search for this page, it looked different.

The data is still the same but now an image is included and the description is above the title and URL.

What changed? The structured data.

Any page that’s highly ranked gets to take advantage of this unique function.

But the catch is that you have to start using this approach before you get to the front page.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can start implementing structured data.

One of the most popular ways you may have seen is when websites implement reviews in their meta description:

reviews

This provides an immediate signal to your viewer that they can find something of value on the site.

Since social proof is such a powerful way to sell and grow your brand, this is a fairly easy hack that lets you start capitalizing on user behavior with ease.

Another good idea is to set up structured data for your branded website as a whole with your logo and company info:

structured data

This increases the chance that someone searching for your brand will actually find you and receive helpful information without having to click the top few results pages.

Since this appears in the sidebar of the results page, you also achieve a bit of a “two for one” deal with this type of structured data.

A user can find your brand, see what your URL is, and then filter their results so that they only see the pages you have to offer.

This helps your SEO, as Google takes these actions as a positive signal toward your brand in the long run.

And if you think you’ll have a hard time ranking for this tactic, you’ll be surprised to learn that 57% of major companies don’t have structured data set up for their site.

Which means you have an opportunity to get ahead of your competitors and boost your SEO that much more.

The easiest way to start is by using plugins like Schema to help you learn the basics.

screenshot 4

This will allow you to edit, test, and improve the structured data on your site without the hassle of digging into your code.

With some simple optimization, you can be on your way to the front page in your industry as your brand grows.

Conclusion

Meta descriptions aren’t going away anytime soon.

The sooner you learn to craft a good description, the sooner you can start boosting your rankings and helping your overall SEO efforts.

Since meta descriptions are a part of the overall user experience of your site, Google takes them very seriously when it comes to your SEO.

And surprisingly, one of the most outstanding ways you can start improving your approach is to just forget about elements like character count.

Instead, try to be unique and interesting.

Engage with your potential visitor and show them what you have to offer.

If you create the right approach and implement solid keywords, you’ll start to see more organic traffic over time.

And if you use structured data elements to position your brand strategically, you’ll stand out even more to both Google and its users.

With time, diligence, and a lot of patience, you’ll start to see the results you really want.

What tactics have you used to improve your meta descriptions through the years?

The post How to Write Compelling Meta Descriptions That’ll Boost Your Rankings appeared first on Neil Patel.

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