So you think you have created first rate content. It's fresh, useful and well written. Now you want people to see it. So you do all the right things. You post on Facebook and Twitter; you add posts on Google+, LinkedIn and maybe a few other social networks. Then you sit back and wait for people to visit your site, where all that great content awaits.
And people do come. Your analytics show that unique visitors to your site have gone up since you started doing thoughtful content marketing. But your goal in doing all of this wasn't just to get people to visit your site. You probably wanted your visitors to take an action -- like making a purchase or requesting a proposal. So your real goal is not just to get visitors. It's to drive business. For that you need people to engage with your content. You need depth, not just reach. And when it comes to referring visitors who will engage, some social networks are better than others.
Depth of Visitor Engagement from Social Sites
In a study released earlier this month by Shareaholic, YouTube was found to be the top source of engaged visitors to websites. Google+ came in second, followed by LinkedIn at third. This surprised some people, who assumed that Facebook, with its 1.19 billion users1, would have been at the top of the pile. But think about it. Facebook may have the most users, and it may even refer more visitors to your site than do the other social networks. However, that doesn't mean those visitors from Facebook are truly engaged with your content or likely to become customers.
Visitors who were referred from YouTube spent an average of nearly 4 minutes on the websites and viewed nearly 3 pages. Bounce rates from YouTube referrals averaged 43.19%, a low number by any standpoint and spectacularly low when compared with, say, Reddit, whose referral bounce average is over 70%!
As for Google+ and LinkedIn, while those platforms drive the fewest numbers of visitors, the ones they do send are among the very best in terms of engagement. Visitors from Google+ spend just over 3 minutes on a site, while those from LinkedIn spend just over 2 minutes. Their average page views and bounce rates are also good -- 2.5 pages and 50.63% for Google+ and 2.23 pages and 51.28% for LinkedIn.
So what does this mean for content marketers?
- As far as website referrals go, consider trading reach for depth.
- If you don't produce much video content, now is the time to start.
- Boost your activity on Google+. Indications are that people trust links on Google+ because it has a higher standard of transparency than some other social sites.
- Likewise, amp up your LinkedIn presence. Don't just post to the entire network. Join some groups that are related to your industry.
- Continue to use Facebook and Twitter. These are important platforms and their Shareaholic numbers are good, just not as good as the top three.
Of course you will want to focus on referring sites that provide you with visitors who represent your target audiences. And you will want to look at other measures of success beyond those examined in this survey. The main point here is that big numbers don't necessarily foster engagement that is deep enough to drive business objectives.
Keeping Up With Constant Changes
Speaking about referring sites do you know where your visitors are coming from? Sometimes it seems that the consumers of content are changing faster than the content itself. Just when many businesses have wrestled their social media and content marketing activities into a predictable routine, the target audiences begin to change things up! So before you sit back, secure in the knowledge that you've finally figured out this social and content marketing thing, check out these five new developments from the field.
1) According to Nielsen, over the next five years the local TV audience will be increasingly multicultural and multiscreen. In this context 'multicultural' is defined as Hispanic, black and Asian, and this group will represent 40% of the US population. Think about the implications for local search. People expect their culture and values to be reflected in their media, so the subjects and type of content you present may have to change if you want to capture business in your community.
2) Speaking of multiple screens, IDC recently predicted that within three years 87% of connected device sales will be tablets and smartphones. People will be watching television while they monitor what others are saying on Twitter, Facebook or some other service that has yet to be born. Our content had better be designed so that it looks attractive regardless of the screen it's viewed on.
3) Among smartphone users, women spend more time on media via apps and the mobile Web than do men. In Q4 2013, women spent an hour and a half more time than men using mobile apps. Couple this with the well-known information that women are the primary purchasing decision-makers for most households and it becomes crystal clear that women should be a priority content target.
4) WedDAM recently reported that 43% of traffic from Google's organic search results goes to the first item listed. So, yes, SEO still matters and we all need to consider that as we develop quality content that will generate shares, leads and conversions.
5) Expert reviews are the most powerful digital content type for influencing consumers' purchasing decisions. The fact that content consumers believe third-party experts are less biased than sellers will surprise no one, but according to Nielsen they also prefer experts over reviews posted by other users. This indicates something I've suspected, and that I will be writing more about in the future -- traditional tactics from the public relations field will play an increasingly important role in content marketing.
As people change their habits and hardware, social media and content marketing will continue to evolve and we must remain flexible enough so that we can change with our audiences.
(image: content marketing / shutterstock)