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A few weeks ago, I noticed the following question on the Shopify forum and it got me thinking.
What exactly is good social media traffic?? What about those spikes in store visits you often get right after an ad campaign? Sure, they are great for morale and they do look good on a GA dashboard, but how many of these visitors actually buy something? Do they bounce the moment they land on your store? Do they ever revisit? Do you have a bad case of the bot fever?
There’s a lot we could write about this. For this post, I’m going to focus on Facebook alone.
Here are two of the most common mistakes stores make while trying to increase engagement and referrals on their social media.
Facebook has been getting tougher on businesses selling likes or follows. But, like with most other stuff on the web, each time one gets shut down, ten others pop up in its place.
Run a search for “Facebook followers” and you‘ll find a whole bunch of sites that promise follows and likes for “free”.
This should go without saying, but buying likes & follows is never worth it.
You may gain a little in the short run but in the long term you will either lose that audience or the audience will be so badly targeted that you won’t be able to make anything out of it. Here’s why:
Bought followers are almost never a part of your actual target audience. They are often from geographically irrelevant locations. There are horror stories out there of stores in the US paying for likes only to see their page flooded by people from China or India. You are essentially paying money to get an audience that has zero buying intent.
You’ve increased the number of your followers by buying Likes, so the engagement metrics on your page should go up as well right? NO!! Paid for audiences rarely engage with your content. What’s even worse is this. Facebook looks into how engaged your followers generally are to decide how many of them see your posts in their newsfeeds. This means that your organic reach is likely to go down even further.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say you have a thousand likes on your page. Let’s say Facebook now shows your posts to 100 of your followers. If they don’t interact with your posts, Facebook will take that as a sign that your content isn’t very good. The next time you post, your content will be visible to far fewer followers.
You also run the risk of skewing your target audience. Paid-for followers are not part of your target audience. Any time you boost your posts, you are doing so to reach an audience that is not interested in what you have to say of sell. You are paying money to waste money.
If you have the money to buy likes/follows, you have the money to run a few ads! Granted it is often a recurring expense, but with careful targeting you are likely to get traffic that shows buying intent instead of the empty visits that paid likes/follows typically generate.
The idea is to reach out beyond your existing audience and attract new followers to your brand/store. Running a contest is a great way of doing that. Doing so as part of an ad campaign is almost guaranteed to get your page more follows & likes. Just make sure your copy is targeted at the right audience. ViralSweep, Shortstack and Gleam are a few apps that can help you with this, but there’s quite a few more that you can explore.
Your existing audience may be the key to finding more of the same kind. Make it easier for visitors to your store to share or otherwise spread the word.A few things you could try are: add your social media links into all your emails, ensure your images are all pinnable, install social share widgets like AddThis into your store so your customers can instantly share something they like.Another thing to try is give people some kind of an incentive to spread the word. Coopt lets their users do just this by giving shoppers a coupon every time they share a purchase they made.
Look to partner with stores that cater to similar audiences but sell products distinctly different from yours. For example Jewelry stores can reach out to Women’s Apparel retailers. You can then try things like sharing your ad audiences, mentions, sharing or engaging with each other’s content or even creating combo deals on each other’s stores.
It is still worth it to focus on creating good content and pushing that out regularly. This will help you reach new followers. While the growth might be slower than before, you will be building a dedicated audience of followers that you can run your ads to. Also focus on interacting with your following, this can really push traffic to your store. Keep a tab on what kind of content works best for your audience. Use the insights tab to do this.
An influencer is someone with an active social media presence and a sizable following of people who are likely to be interested in your products. Identify influencers in your niche and work on getting an endorsement from them. Remember, persistence is the key. Reach out to as many people as possible and keep at it.
With ads, it’s critical to have a reach just wide enough so you have shoppers coming through the funnel predictably without wasting ad spend on the wrong people.
Ad copy by necessity is often exaggerated and a little bit click-baity.
While this isn’t a bad thing in itself, make sure that your copy targeted at your ideal audience. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting ad spend to bring in people who haven’t got the slightest interest in your products.
Let’s say you run an online store that sells cycling gear and were running a Facebook ad campaign for a new helmet line designed by MIT grads. Now if your ad copy says “You can’t imagine what this MIT grad made!”. Your store may receive a lot of visitors who are probably looking for a never-go-soggy pizza, a shirt you never have to wash or an energy free perpetual motion machine. None of these visitors are interested in buying your helmets though.
Another reason that ads attract the wrong audiences is bad targeting. Make sure you understand your target demographic well before running ads. Where do they live? How old are they? Are you selling to women? Are you selling to men?
Once you have the basic demographic targeting down, you can refine your audience further by using interests. Facebook has a huge range of interests that you can target. Decide how broad or your targeting here should be based on your goals for the ads. For example brand awareness ads tend to have a broader audience while conversion ads are often for a smaller niche within that.
These are great if you already have a well defined audience for your Facebook ads. Say you have a custom audience of people who have purchased from your store, you can then use this audience to create a ‘lookalike audience’ of people with similar profiles and interests. This will give you a highly targeted group of potential buyers.
You can also try sharing Facebook audiences with stores that sell different products but have a similar audience.Have you ever made any of these mistakes? Have any horror stories you’d like to share? What are some other sources of bad traffic you’d like us to cover? Let us know in the comments below.