Many websites have seen a significant drop in traffic to their websites since Google Search no longer delivers the same volume of visitor traffic that it used to. A few years ago, more than half of the visitor traffic to a typical business website would come from Google Search. Google delivers fewer visitors for two principal reasons:
- Advertising on Google Search Report Pages takes up much more of the screen, with very little space for a few websites that rank well for appropriate keywords.
- Successive tightening of the Google Search algorithms with Panda, Penguin, and now Hummingbird updates has pushed many websites off of the front page.
Google would prefer that businesses pay advertising fees for Google Adword Ads. However, there is another way.
Your Website Isn’t Social
People are spending more time on social media, where they can be in touch with their friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, most websites are not social: you visit, you check a few web pages, and you leave. Even if the website includes a blog where commenting is allowed, this rarely happens unless the website has some content that is very controversial. If businesses wish to communicate and interact with prospects and clients, then they must get involved in the social media where these dialogues are happening.
Many people now spend most of their online time on social media. A recent survey found that logins for media and publishing sites overall were mainly through Facebook (44%), Google+ (29%), and Yahoo (22%). Many people now use only mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. For these, logins were dominated by Facebook with a massive 66% share followed by Google+ with 20%. Twitter (9%) and Yahoo (4%) were next in line.
What It Takes to Be Socially Involved
If a business wants to “stay in touch” with its prospects and clients through social media, it is important to realize that this involves people talking to people. Depending on the amount of social involvement the company wishes to pursue, this means that a community manager should make sure that the company is responsive to those who wish to have a dialogue with the company.
The other important asset to develop is a social media page that is the public face of the company. The community manager must then work to ensure that this page is attractive and creates a buzz that encourages frequent visits. It should also have content that people wish to share with their friends, and that they will, in turn, wish to share with their friends. The ideal situation is where many in the company team wish to participate in the ongoing dialogues.
The Goals for Social Media Activities
Staying in touch is essential, but it is important for a company to have more specific goals for its social media activities if they are to justify the time and effort involved. Here are some appropriate goals:
- Maintain brand awareness
- Develop an image of a customer-caring organization
- Offer coupons for purchases of new or existing products
- Seek customer reviews to encourage others to purchase
Five Social Media Where Your Business Should Be Present
Since different social media attract different segments of the population and since the same content can be used fairly easily in a number of social media, it is wise to cover the five major social media. These are:
- Facebook – a full-service social medium
- Twitter – for short, punchy (140 characters) news items
- Google+ – catering to the geeks but may have benefits in Google Search visibility
- Pinterest – if the business has images of interest
- Tumblr – an easy alternative to a formal company blog for words, videos, and pictures
Depending on the products and services the company markets, the following social media may also be useful:
- LinkedIn – mainly for B2B commerce to expand business networks
- YouTube – if videos are important tools in selling company products
- Instagram – another useful addition if both images and videos are included in the company’s selling tools
The Role of the Community Manager
It should be emphasized that unlike a website that can be left as a silent sales representative that provides information to those who seek it, social media are social. Automatic computer-generated responses when people interact with any social medium will quickly create a very negative response. Therefore, it is important that a community manager actively monitors what is going on and responds appropriately. More importantly there should be proactive interventions to build on whatever issues may become important in the to-and-fro of the dialogues that an active social media site will naturally develop.
At the same time, the manager should be creative in thinking of ways of deepening the relationships that are formed and integrating this with other direct marketing activities. This could even involve coupons or other inducements to make a purchase or visit a local company store.