Ensuring Facebook Users Find You When They Need You
Most companies using Facebook for marketing have a website where they make their money. Companies in ecommerce, software as a service and insurance all have a commonality: they're looking to attract high value visitors. What are the mechanics behind making this happen?
Traffic from Facebook to a website essentially belong in one of two categories:
Organic - meaning you don't pay directly for the traffic
Paid - meaning the source of the traffic is ads
In both the case of organic and paid traffic, you in fact do pay for it one way or the other. But I'll come back to that.
Before moving on I should note that I won't discuss website visits not directly attributable to Facebook in this post. If you want to read more about that, please see this blog post on Why we value engagement on Facebook.
Now, let's start with looking at how you can get organic visits to your website from Facebook.
Content, content, content
Facebook, YouTube, Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia... Have you ever thought about what the most visited sites on the Internet have in common? They all revolve around content.
Sure, Facebook is about social connections, but at the centre of the Facebook user experience is content sharing. Be it content living in the world of Facebook, such as status updates and photos, or content that lives elsewhere, such as videos on YouTube and articles like the one you're reading right now.
If links to a particular piece of content living on your website gets shared wildly on Facebook, it goes without saying that you'll get your fair share of visitors.
It's highly unlikely that content perceived as non-interesting would receive a lot of sharing action on Facebook, so it comes down to figuring out what your target audience perceives as quality content.
But let's say you've done your homework and know what your target customers find valuable. You've also started putting resources towards generating that content, then how do you make sure it gets discovered and shared?
There are a few ways, and I'll describe the two that from my experience are the most effective.
1. Do the work yourself and push it out
Your Facebook page is a fantastic distribution channel for whatever you want to distribute. Think of it as your own printing press, radio tower or satellite. Respectively, your fans are your readers, your listeners or your viewers.
Since you're publishing awesome material on your website that's perfectly aligned with your audience, all you need to do is make it available to them. Do this by posting links to it via page posts, including a short explanation as to why this is good stuff.
2. Let your existing visitors help out
If your Facebook page is a channel for content distribution, the content itself can be a magnet for visitor attraction. Maybe not the best analogy, but hopefully I'll manage to make it clear.
By installing Facebook share plugins, e.g., like buttons, on your website you're effectively enabling every visitor to become a publisher of your content. As they hit these buttons, links to your website are distributed within their Facebook friend network, which in turn attracts more visitors to you.
These buttons are unlikely to be used if your content sucks however, or if they are placed where they are hard to see. Therefore, again, make sure to create content that your audience will love - and make it obvious how they can share it.
Leverage your content with advertising
The visits gained by the tactics described above are free in the sense that you won't receive a bill from Facebook charging you for clicks or impressions. However, I still argue there are costs involved - most notably the time spent on content creation.
Advertising on Facebook is therefore a sound investment since it puts leverage on your content, dramatically increasing its distribution.
And as it happens, some of Facebook's myriad of ad formats are designed specifically for content distribution:
Page post ads
Also known as promoted posts, these are your actual page posts but with a budget attached for increased distribution. When a page post is promoted it can be delivered in the News feed to whatever audience you prefer.
Sponsored stories related to page posts and domains
These are stories generated by people liking or commenting on your page posts, by interacting with your social plugins, or by posting links to your website in their status updates. Just as for page post ads, sponsored stories are simply organic stories with a budget attached for increased distribution. They reach friends of people generating the stories in their News feeds.
Provided that the post or story at hand contains a link to your website, these ad formats work extremely well towards delivering visitors to your website. And they are cheap.
Clicks on sponsored content in the News feed often cost as little as ten times less than regular ads on the right-hand side of Facebook - provided that the content is any good.
News feed placement means your content is delivered exactly where people's attention is, and since it's tailored to your audience, they can't help but follow the link to find out more.
This results in very high click-through rates, which in turn means very low costs per click.
Awesome content + Massive distribution = Lots of visitors
So the science is pretty simple:
- Make sure you understand what makes your target customers tick
- Create content accordingly
- Publish on your website
- Push links via your Facebook page and encourage people to share
- Leverage by sponsoring
You might be asking yourself why I haven't mentioned Facebook's standard offsite ads. After all, they are designed specifically for sending traffic from Facebook to another website.
- You knew about them already (if not, see this guide)
- They are put to better use for time-specific campaigns
The point with this post is to discuss how Facebook can be a sustainable, always on, source of visitors. Basing your marketing on content creation have great long-term effects that are not achievable by buying traffic with regular display advertising.
The long-term effects I'm referring to are improved rank on search engines as links are being created pointing to your website, and a continuous inflow of organic visits from Facebook as your content keeps getting shared.
Provided that you also tag the links you share you'll also be able to learn what kind of content works best for you. This is the key to perfecting the process of creating content that really resonates with your target customers, and at the end of the day means more business to you.
And lastly, taking a stab at trying to make sense of the title of this post, we tend to behave like flocks.
If we find something good it's just a matter of time before it spreads among our peers. This is how websites climb in rank on Google, how videos become viral on YouTube and how content on your website gets shared on Facebook.
For that to happen people must find your content, value it and be encouraged to share it.
Follow Sven Hamberg on Twitter