How to grow website audience through social media

I was asked this week about the recent ramp up of social media content I was putting out on behalf of my other brand, a travel writing and content creation business, For those of you perhaps unfamiliar, COQ is a travel writing site aimed at fun-fit-females, many in their 50s pursuing adventure travel with friends, family, a partner or solo. It’s a passion project, or a “side hustle” if you will, that I intend to grow by applying what I know about marketing to it. Plus, producing content for it is just darn fun, and provides a way to write off travel, earn income through collaborations, with the future plan to increase the ability to produce passive income.

Building the brand

Initially my objective was to brand the site well, build content, site traffic and form industry affiliate relationships on the back end to prove the passive income model was possible. I’ve been able to do that over the last year, and now my objective is to scale it, building even more site traffic, while continuing to bank up well targeted content.

Ramping up reach and frequency

While I have always utilized Hootsuite as a scheduling tool for content, I decided to put it into action for a couple weeks ago. It has made it much easier to build out a campaign of images, headlines and paragraphs to catch attention across various social media platforms, while minding how they all interacted with each other, and putting into place best practices for consistent #hashtag use and repetition on certain platforms like Twitter. The outcome of doing this has been nothing short of dramatic with a huge surge (as in a 513% increase) to site linked traffic during the time monitored for the campaigns.

Think of it as a “hockey stick” pointing upwards. That’s what the back end analytics have looked like! While I’m certainly interested in likes, shares and comments on posts, and I work those religiously while monitoring individual platform analytics, what I’m most driven by is website visits to the article link in the BLOG SECTION, since that is where visitors will initially spend time reading and forming a deeper relationship which can be nurtured over time. Email sign ups then happen organically and affiliate links can work their magic through industry sponsors in the article and throughout the site as visitors look a little deeper. I also pay close attention to the type of traffic through the amount of time visitors spend and the number of pages deep they go on the site, all available through Google Analytics. This helps determine the quality of the link traffic, and which platform they came in from.

Tweak, monitor and learn is the mantra right now. Much of my observations can strategically apply more broadly, but of course every client is different – different industry, competitors, target audience and suitable platforms for that audience. Testing the type of content which gets the most engagement, and adjusting that while also being aware of trends and opportunities to stand out organically on each platform is another important part of strategy.

What has worked: schedule, monitor, tweak & learn

  • Daily Instagram posts with different images each day, and change of copy/headline emphasis, consistent hashtags, morning posts
  • Daily Facebook posts with different images each day, and change of copy/headline emphasis, consistent hashtags, morning posts
  • Sharing of post from page to personal account for further impact, but only after the page had taken off, so to not fragment comments and engagement
  • Variations of visual content across Instagram and Facebook – so not always the same on the same day
  • Monitoring Instagram and Facebook for content that received considerable comments, likes and in particular shares during the first 24 hours. Early organic spread seemed to open up for even more organic distribution within 48 hours. After that I put a small budget spend behind what was working to expand the reach further
  • @tagging key strategic people and businesses in the comments section once the post had taken off, which resulted in further engagement and often additional shares, comments, and if lucky link backs from their site.

  • Multiple daily Twitter posts, different images, short catchy and intriguing headlines, consistent use of #hashtags, @tagging interested targets
  • Pinterest content generated with multiple images and different headlines, pinned to boards with article links on the back end. These were spread out over the campaign
  • Monitoring pins for shares and link backs to site and then selecting one that was getting traction, and again putting a small budget behind it, and selecting a very tight niche audience for distribution
  • LinkedIn share of content with a different spin and introduction, shared at the end of the week for fun – as a break going into the weekend type read. This was done to expose content to a completely different audience, but with a professional angle
  • Embedding Youtube videos within the post as well as sharing them natively on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter was beneficial when I had taken time to produce fun, professional content to accompany the topic. Creating videos of that caliber however is time consuming, so this tactic is good when you have the assets, and know the extra effort can put a post over the top. IGTV and Instagram Stories hold further promise for this, as well as Facebook Stories.
  • Guest posts accelerate and expand content sharing and distribution since the author is motivated to share the link and social media posts out on their own channels
  • Mentioned businesses who pick up the content and place back links on their site generate immediate and long lasting site traffic. In some cases I strategically connected with them by email to give a heads up, or it was a known arrangement ahead of time. In other cases, I tagged
  • Tagging people throughout on all platforms, within the post, who might be interested increased engagement and sharing
  • Monitoring and engaging comments throughout provoked more engagement
  • Distribution of content via an enewsletter to subscribers of COQ magnified the reach even further

A mix of trial and error is at play I realize, but by using analytics on both the back end of the website as well as the analytics on the social media platforms themselves, it has been interesting to see a very clear picture of what works, where and why. Having an objective for the end goal in what social media is to accomplish has also been super important. It can be a bit of a riddle, but measuring the results turns it into a game!

A word of caution on scheduling

Scheduling software like Hootsuite can certainly make it easier, but it also needs to be used with caution. For example, I interrupted a campaign sharing Surfing the West Coast of Australia, to acknowledge the terrible bush fires happing in NSW and Queensland on the east coast. And I suspended content Nov 11, believing it should be a day with no commercial interests. You need to be very aware of world events when using scheduling so you don’t get caught posting something insensitive when the context shifts. And since engagement is crucial, only schedule what you are willing to monitor in real time.



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Mary Charleson

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