Bring social media followers back to your website!

Social media is like any other marketing tool. To be effective we need a measurable “call to action.” Many small businesses are using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other sites thinking it’s working since they see likes, shares and comments. That’s great, but are you bringing them back to your website? Into your store? Into buyers?

If you’re running a small business like a dive center, dive resort, bike shop, indoor climbing facility or ski resort, the number one way to get customers engaged is through photos and video. Everyone loves to see photos of happy people engaged in a sport or activity they enjoy. They want to see themselves – and other friends – at events and will look through photos!

social media globe

Certainly, putting Facebook photo album of an event will keep people on your Facebook page for awhile, but your customers can’t complete any “transactions” on Facebook. Sure, they can post a comment, share information or ask a question, but they do not have immediate access to your rates, special offers, class calendar or even your website address. (Facebook recently pulled your website link off your main Facebook page and hid it under the “About” link.)

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is a great tool to use if your audience is on Facebook, but they want people to stay on Facebook. They have zero interest in pushing Facebook visitors to your website. But you can still make this work, and work well.

First, if you’re going to post photos or video, put a “teaser” image or clip on Facebook and provide a link back to your website where you have a great photo gallery of the event. Do the same thing with Twitter, just give them a taste and they will follow the link back to see more!

But there is more to do. On the gallery page you need to include additional information that will keep your site visitor engaged while on your site. Promote a special offer associated with the photos, include a link and encourage them to register for a similar event, or forward the information to a friend. Ideally, you’re looking for visitors to sign up for your own email newsletter, come to your store or make an online purchase.

One recent example involves the re-launch of a ski area here in Connecticut. We received the almost-final mountain trail map and we knew a lot of people were waiting for it. We were going to post it on Facebook, but I asked them to hold off so we can get the full-sized version on the website. Since it was only one image, we did post a smaller version of the trail map on Facebook and provided a link back to the website to see the full version. The traffic flowed, but we took one more step.

On the trail map page, we included a simple Buy Season Pass link featuring the 30 percent discount that was being offered at the time. Along with getting plenty of traffic to the page we were able to convert many visitors into online buyers.

If your audience is on Facebook, you need to be there too. But remember to always try to drive social media followers back to your website.

Steve McGough

Steve is the owner of Spider Creations, with a focus on working with micro and small businesses to help improve their Internet presence.