How should publications convert followers on their social media channels into loyal readers on their websites? It’s a question even the most successful hyperlocal publishers have grappled with, as they search for successful strategies to convert traffic from social channels.
Finding an answer isn’t easy, in part because the social networks are working so hard to keep people in. Even while platforms like Twitter are promoting news streaming partnerships with major media outlets, and YouTube is adding breaking news to its homepage, local publishers are still left with the task of figuring out how to convert traffic from social channels and entice readers over to their sites.
Here are five strategies that publishers should implement to convert traffic from social channels.
1. Share early and often across social media.
Although Facebook is a dominant platform in terms of local news consumption, it’s hardly the only online channel that readers are visiting on a regular basis. The moment a new article goes live, publishers (along with reporters and editors) should be sharing the link across all their social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and possibly LinkedIn. Ideally, links to stories should be shared according to a daily publishing schedule, with an average of 3 to 10 posts going up on the publication’s own Facebook accounts and by individual editors or reporters throughout the course of a day. Publishers should be tweeting at least five times a day and posting to Instagram at least 1.5 times a day for maximum exposure.
2. Post messages that are native to each channel.
Taking the time to learn about what readers on each channel are looking for, and how they interact with content online, can pay dividends in the long run. Changing up the tone and adding a compelling image that’s suited to the channel can result in an increased number of click-throughs and engagement. In fact, social media posts with images create 650% more engagement than text posts, according to research by Adobe. Instagram and Snapchat tend to have younger audiences than Facebook and Twitter, so the tone of posts on those channels should skew slightly younger. A quick looks at which posts are generating the most engagement on each social channel can offer some good insights into which type of messaging will be most successful.
3. Leave people wanting more.
The ideal social media posting gives readers enough information to be interested in an article, but not so much that they don’t have a reason to click-through for more information. The key here is to leave people hanging. The best way to convert traffic from social channels is to leave readers with a cliffhanger or a question that can only be answered on the publisher’s own site. For example, a tweet that’s promoting an article about a recent robbery might say, “Thieves broke into XYZ Toy Store last night. See what evidence they left behind. [LINK]” The message gives readers enough information to let them know what event happened, but still requires them to click-through to the website for the full story.
4. Share content multiple times—but don’t be a spammer.
The return on investment—or effort, in this case—is greater when publishers share articles multiple times. Content intelligence tools like Chartbeat are useful for understanding the ideal number of times content should be shared for maximum distribution. For publishers who don’t have an account, a simple review of analytics should suffice. Most publishers find that three is the magic number, as far as how many times an individual article should be shared across social media. But be careful. Posting outdated content, or spamming people by sending the same message twic, as a way to convert traffic from social channels is a plan that could backfire.
5. Join relevant groups or create new ones.
Online groups that center around shared interests can be an excellent place for publications to find and interact with readers would could potentially become loyal advocates. More than 1 billion people use Facebook Groups, so this channel can be a great place to begin. Join a few active groups centered around local issues—most communities already have groups set up to discuss neighborhood crime, for example—or start a new group. To successfully convert traffic from social channels in this way, publishers should set themselves up as sources of reliable, accurate information. In addition to building up their profiles within the communities they cover, groups on Facebook and LinkedIn can also be a great source for background information and ideas for future stories.