Leveraging Social Media Links to Drive Traffic | Part 1/
April 20, 2010
Recently, I gave a presentation about this topic at SMX in Toronto. I’m going to get a little more mileage out of said presentation by posting the slides and detailed notes here on the LunaMetrics blog.
The difference between Traditional Link Building and Social Media Link Building
The biggest difference between a Social Media link building campaign and a traditional link building campaign is the type of links we’ll be going after.
With traditional link building campaigns, the focus is on links that will help your site RANK higher. Links that pass on link juice, enhance page rank and trust rank and generally improve the strength of your domain. If the links also drive traffic — great. The logic is Links lead to Rankings which in turn leads to Traffic.
Social media links are a horse of a different color. Our goal is to create links that will likely be tagged nofollow and therefore pass very little link juice or provide any benefit to rankings at all. The end result will be the same as ranking higher: Loads and loads of targeted traffic to the site. The logic here is Links lead directly to Traffic.
For the record, I am not saying that ranking is not important. Let me state my opinion here boldly so that I may never be misquoted: Rankings are important! Ranking high for targeted keywords drives lots of awesome traffic to your site! A social media link building campaign should augment your current link building efforts, not replace them.
A Quick Definition of Social Media Sites
The best definition of a Social Media site, or Social Media platform, as they’re sometimes called, is in the slide above. I stumbled across it one day and then totally forgot who said it so unfortunately I can’t cite the original. (If you said this contact me and I’ll link to you!) This definition covers a broad spectrum of sites: Sharing and Community sites are ones like Facebook and Myspace. Review Sites include Yelp and Citysearch. Popularity sites like Digg and Redit rank your content against other content.
Promo sites might be one of the most overlooked social media platforms EVER. They’re sites that post promo codes and deals. Thunderfap, though ineptly named, is one of the best examples of a promo site. Microblogging sites include Twitter and Tumblr. Blogs and Forums are self explanatory. The ones you’ll focus on depend on your industry.
Planning your Social Media Campaign
- Research: The first step to planning your social media campaign is researching where your demographic hangs out online. Are your potential customers (readers, investors, contributors etc.) Tweeting their fingers off or are they lurking around a forum? Or a little of both with some Facebook thrown in. Narrowing down your target sites will go a long way to help you streamline your campaign and ensure that you’re not focusing your efforts on sites that are useless to you.
- Building Your Persona(s): The second step is creating your persona. For the purposes of this blog, a social media persona is a character you create to represent the brand you’re promoting. Unless you’re promoting yourself, you should create a social media persona around your brand and not mix business with pleasure as it were. If you are a vendor and have several clients, lump them into verticals and create a personal for each vertical. For instance, if you have a restaurateur, a kitchen goods retail store and a food blogger as clients, these can all be lumped together in one vertical since the subject matter overlaps. Trying to maintain a persona for each client is a huge mistake because there is no way you can ever do them all justice and still have enough time in the day to take care of other obligations.
- Identify Your Targets: Your targets in this case are the people on the social media platforms that are most likely to disseminate the links that you post. On Twitter, a great target would be a Tweeter who talks about similar things, has a large following and retweets or links often. On Facebook, a related page or group could be a target. On Yelp, people who are dissing your competition can be targets. (Or people talking you down, surprisingly enough.)
- Build Relationships: It all comes down to this. You can’t speak into a void and expect anyone to listen to you. One must build firm relationships online in order to be heard when they speak. If you just randomly @ someone on Twitter with a promo, and they’ve never heard of you before, there is a much smaller chance that they’ll retweet or even follow your link.
- Choose the Best Pages to Link To: If your goal is to bring traffic in and convert it into sales, engaging product pages are the best pages to link to in your Social Media campaign. If your goal is to encourage inbound links of the traditional sort, you need to link to viral pages on your site. Either way, choosing the page to link to is as important as choosing who your targets are.
- Start Plugging, but Stay Classy: It’s important to obey good social media etiquette when you do start linking to your site and encouraging others to pass those links along and drive traffic for you. Don’t just shout about yourself all day, and for Pete’s sake, don’t spam your targets with tons of links. It’s annoying and it will ruin your credibility and destroy any chance of success.
This is a Shameless Tease. Now that we have all the theory down, stay tuned for my next post when we’ll put it into practice with specific techniques you can take right from this very blog and apply to your own personal campaign.