It’s been said many times, including by me, that one of the flaws of social media marketing is that the resulting traffic is short-lived. That short-term nature of social media traffic is one of the biggest reasons that social media marketing is often overlooked or disregarded by bloggers and website owners. However, an effective social media plan will result in significant and long-lasting growth, with effects that can be visible long after the rush of traffic has died down.
Long-Term Gains that are Possible with Social Media:
All bloggers want to gain new subscribers. Although visitors from social media sites can be more difficult to convert than other types of visitors, the volume of traffic that can be achieved quickly with social media can more than make up for it. On my primary blog I’ve seen firsthand that gaining subscribers from social media is possible and that it can have a very significant impact on the future of your blog.
Search Engine Rankings and Amount of Search Traffic
The links that can result from a successful social media campaign are extremely significant for long-term results, thus the popularity of linkbait. For new blogs, strong search engine rankings won’t happen right away, but a consistent approach with linkbait and social media can result in a big difference in long-term, long-lasting search engine traffic.
Overall Traffic Growth
Success with social media can have an impact on your overall traffic in the future, not just for the next two days. Repeated success with social media will bring lasting visitors that click-through on inbound links, the search engine traffic that was just mentioned, more recognition from other bloggers, and increased direct traffic as more people become familiar with your blog.
If social media is able to produce long-term traffic gains, it can also result in corresponding increases in prices for advertisements. While many advertisers will consider social media traffic to be less valuable than other sources, the resulting click-through traffic and improved search engine traffic will have significance to advertisers, and can ultimately justify a higher price tag for ad space.
Name Recognition and Branding
With more and more people using social media sites everyday, building your name recognition through social media is a major long-term benefit. Social media is an excellent tool for the blogger who wants to build a strong brand that’s seen as a niche leader by a targeted group of readers.
Using Social Media for Long-Term Results
In previous posts I’ve covered some of the long-term benefits of social media marketing, including improved search engine traffic, subscribers, and a stronger network. The biggest key to building long-term results is to have a solid, established plan for what you hope to accomplish with social media.
The plan is what leads your individual posts to help you reach your ultimate goals. It’s what keeps your efforts organized, efficient and on target. Without a plan you may be able to get a random post to the front page of Digg or get a rush of visitors for StumbleUpon, but your efforts will not be focused in a way that maximizes the potential of social media.
To start with, you need to know what it is that you want to accomplish with social media. Do you just want higher traffic numbers? More subscribers? Sales? Branding? Each post you publish (well, not necessarily all of them, but at least the ones that target social media) should help you take a step towards that goal. For example, if you want to brand yourself as the go-to source on a specific subject, concentrate your posts on proving your expertise to readers in one aspect at a time surrounding that subject. It’s a pretty simple concept, but many bloggers forget about their long-term purpose with social media and they post whatever they think can get a quick rush of visitors.
Long-term results will only come with repeat success and content that’s focused on a specific subject. As people continually see your posts covering various aspects of that subject at various social media sites, they’ll start to view you as an expert and the long-term results will be sure to follow.
Things to Consider for a Long-Term Focus:
Subject of the Post
As I mentioned already, always consider the subject of your posts that are targeting social media to determine how they will get you towards your long-term goals. If they have no impact on those goals, I would advise you to spend your time developing different content that will lead you to the goals. Why waste time with something that only has the potential to generate short-term results?
Tone of the Post
Many visitors that find your content via social media will not be familiar with you, your blog, or your writing. For this reason, be careful how you present the information, because your tone can impact their first impression, especially if one of your primary purposes with social media is to brand yourself.
Targeted Social Media Sites
One thing I harp on all the time is using the right social media sites, ones that have an audience that is well-suited for your content. Don’t just chase the front page of Digg when you could be getting much more targeted traffic with niche social media sites. There’s nothing wrong with Digg, but be sure that the sites you’re using are well-suited to your long-term goals. Although niche social media sites will not be able to send the same volume of traffic that major social news sites will send, there are huge benefits to repeatedly getting your content to the front page of niche sites.
The timing of your posts that target social media is especially important if they are news-related. Only the initial blogs that break the news will typically get the results with social media. Also, think about the timing of how frequently you are targeting social media. If your goal is to gain a large number of subscribers in a short period of time, you may want to increase the frequency and target social media more often.
The long-term effects of social media on your blog will be a combination of the results of your individual posts. Before you write or publish a new post, think about the impact that it could have on the overall sum of your content and your social media marketing. Ideally, it will build on what you have already done and strengthen your place in the niche. If you feel that content has no potential to positively impact your blog, why post it?
The Needs that are Met by the Post
Posts that do well with social media all meet the needs or desires of social media users, whether it be an information, news, humor, entertainment, etc. The needs and desires that you meet will impact the long-term effect of social media on your blog. Try to provide some consistency in what you are giving readers so that they can clearly see your blog in the way that you want it to be seen.
What’s Your Experience with Social Media and Long-Term Results?
From my own personal experience I know that social media is more than just a short-term solution to a need for more traffic. What have you seen in your own blogging efforts?