Those of you that follow me on social media might have noticed a few patterns over the last twelve months as I tried various tactics to grow my following. Some of these have been more successful than others, so I decided to carry out a quick review of the plan to determine whether I’m likely to meet my goal of increasing traffic to the website over the year.
Back in 2016, I started actively scheduling my social media interactions on Twitter, curating content through a platform called Hootsuite and measuring how the channel was performing. As many social media experts advocate, having a constant presence did seem to grow my following and as weeks turned into months, my follower count gradually ticked up.
As I’m not really into collecting followers for the sake of it, I later asked myself what I was trying to achieve. Part of my goal was to train myself as a social media expert – at the time, I was only partly involved in Marketing and wanted to build a portfolio of achievements which would encourage a future employer to take a punt on me as a full-time marketer. Another part of my goal was to try and build visibility for Viola Enterprises; although to date, I still have more luck here with word-of-mouth referrals than I have ever had with internet marketing. A final part of my goal was to build a following for this blog.
When I sat down and wrote these goals out, I suddenly realised that I was missing a really obvious point – I was never tweeting articles from the blog; only ever ‘curating’ other people’s content. I was building my brand through association, rather than by demonstration. This needed to change.
Towards the end of 2016, I decided to bite the bullet and start scheduling my own articles to tweet about. At first, I wasn’t getting much engagement, but slowly, I’ve started to see an upward trend in the traffic visiting the website.
How I did it
Although I’m a huge fan of Hootsuite, I couldn’t really justify the cost of the platform for personal use, so after my year’s subscription ran out, I moved over to a free platform called Buffer. It’s a pretty basic tool – free to use (providing you keep your queue to ten scheduled posts) and links into a whole range of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
I took 25 blog posts I’d written here on theethicalentrepreneur.com, created three unique tweets (75 tweets total), then added these tweets to Buffer, scheduling two a day until I’d run out of tweets.
My thinking was that if most my tweets linked to articles on the blog, I should see an increase in traffic coming from Twitter on Google Analytics. It might sound obvious, but now I had a goal (increased site traffic from Twitter), a means to achieve that goal (Buffer and Twitter) and a method of measuring performance (Google Analytics).
It took me a bit longer than I’d have liked – I had to re-write the tweets, pick suitable articles and constantly top up my Buffer account (as I had the free version, I could only schedule 10 at a time!). By choosing to tweet only twice a day and at staggered times, I figured I’d maximise my exposure without clogging people’s feeds up with an endless stream of self-promotion. Clever, right?
In addition to this, I started using hashtags; usually not something I’ve been a fan of, but I decided to make an exception for the experiment. For those that don’t know, a hashtag is simply a hash symbol ‘#’ followed by a key search phrase (for example #social) which people can use on twitter to search for tweets on a specific subject. Despite my aversion to them (rather an irrational one in fairness), I noticed that I was attracting more engagement on Twitter – engagement which should increase exposure and drive traffic to the website.
As I have Twitter installed on my phone, I used the notifications feature to keep up to date with responses and new followers, making a point of trying to actively engage with those who interacted with and shared my content. Again, I found that this seemed to make followers \’stickier\’ and more likely to engage with my content.
As of the date of publication of this article, the experiment has only been running about ten weeks, but I’m already starting to see the impact. Page views are up just over 1%, people are spending about 50% more time on the site and my bounce rate has dropped by just over 7%. Traffic from Social Media is up around 5%.
Rather frustratingly, that success doesn\’t seem to have translated over to a significant increase in my follower count, which has been hovering around the 1160 mark for the duration of the experiment. I have a feeling I\’ll need to figure out some new tactics on that front, as I\’m aiming to grow to 2000 by the end of the year. Still a long way to go!
I’m aiming to run the experiment for about six months before trying to draw a conclusion for it, but early data is certainly encouraging. One of my projects for this year is to have a look at the design of the website – it’s only two years old, so I don’t think it needs anything major, but I’m debating getting some more imagery on it, along with a videos page. Of course, that will mean creating some, but I’ve still got ten months of the year left to hit that goal!