According to Nielsen, Internet users spend 23 percent of their time online using social media, and 70 percent of social media users shop online. Does your affiliate marketing strategy include steps to leverage social media? Finding the right ways to capitalize on social platforms increases your credibility, revenue and traffic sources. But where to start? Below are three best practices to leverage social media to increase traffic through your affiliate sites.
Leverage Social Media — Choose the Right Channels
The social media landscape is volatile and changes quickly. Just look at the scattered wreckage of Myspace or Friendster. Some commentators were even sounding the death knell for Facebook in the last few years. But as social networks have matured, they have established their individual spaces in the marketplace. Determining which networks to target and how to target them deserves consideration. Which channels have the highest potential for online sales? Who is actually using these networks?
According to Drew Hendricks of Inc.com, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have proven to be high converting channels of social media selling. But not every channel connects with every audience. They each have their own character and each demand a tailored approach. With over a billion active monthly users, Facebook is the largest social media network. If you want to get in front of the largest social media audience, Facebook is your destination. Twitter is great for learning about consumers’ likes, interests and online activity. So to educate the market about your brand and to learn more about your own customers, establish a Twitter presence. Whereas LinkedIn attracts people engaged in business and thought leaders from different industries. Target LinkedIn to reach B2B prospects.
Leverage Social Media — Generate a Quality Following
Creating accounts on these networks is only the first step. Now begins the hard work of building a quality following on each platform. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut if you want your following to be truly engaged (i.e. valuable). By interacting with consumers and joining the online discussions happening in your industry, you can build up your social media credibility and contribute to the 17 percent of users who feel more connected to brands they see on social networking sites.
According to Frank Brogie at Resply, you can engage your audience by:
- Interacting with consumers by liking and commenting on posts
- Following and sharing posts from thought leaders in your industry
- Searching for trending industry-specific hashtags
Although building an engaged audience is a gradual process, once you have found your niche in these online communities, a whole wealth of knowledge about consumers’ demographics and buying patterns becomes available.
Leverage Social Media — Use a Posting Strategy
You’ve found your channels, and you’ve begun to build a following. But don’t simply post ad after ad. Social media is a virtual gathering. Just like a real gathering, if someone at the party is only talking about themselves or trying to sell something, they won’t be so popular. The same holds true for your social media accounts.
Posts should be diverse in content. A good rule of thumb is to follow the social media 4-1-1 rule:
4 — Share four pieces of new, relevant content from influencers in the market.
1 — Re-share one piece of content from someone in your existing audience.
1 — Share one post that is self-promotional and action-oriented.
It takes discipline to stick to this rule. Maintaining a monthly promotional calendar can help you develop your 4-1-1 practice, while also ensuring you don’t repeat content. A promotional or social-editorial calendar also helps coordinate any seasonal discounts or promotions you plan to offer. We know what you’re asking, “If 4-1-1 is so much work, and limits how much I can promote my own content, why should I use it?”
Why 4-1-1 works
By showcasing articles written by trusted thought leaders in the industry, you can position yourself as a thought leader as well and gain credibility in the social media space. The authority of the sources you promote is transferred to you in the eyes of your readers, so choose content that’s in line with the type of authoritative voice you want to cultivate.
Re-sharing content from people in your existing network helps deepen engagement with them. Valuable followers are active followers. Additionally, you help them by sharing their content with your network. In the future, those people in your network whose content you have shared will be more likely to share your content in return. After promoting thought leaders and other members of your network, you can share a self-promotional item with confidence that your audience will receive it well.
In terms of the self-promotional content, include information about products such as features and benefits they bring to your target market. What are the problems they face and how does your product or service solve those problems? Offering infographics about the product, demos and free trials are also proven techniques to attract more customers.
The call-to-action posts should vary in delivery by using the following selling tactics demonstrated by Shopify’s Mark Macdonald:
- Scarcity – A one day only discount, announcing a discount that will occur at a later point in time, and providing a promo code only for social media users
- Reciprocity – Including a free gift with a purchase
- Social proof – Posting testimonials about your affiliate website and the products you’re promoting
Building a solid presence on social media is a gradual process. You must select the appropriate channels and build a genuine following there. And you must stick to a disciplined posting strategy that deepens your influence as you promote your products or services. To gauge your progress, use tracking parameters to determine which social media selling tactics work best for you. Through a steady and disciplined approach and being responsive to metrics, you will establish a foothold that will burnish your brand online, leading to a more loyal following and more commissions.
Jennifer Rooth is Online Marketing Coordinator for cleverbridge.