The topic of this article is clicks. The simple fact is, no matter how many times this post might be shared on Twitter, or anywhere on social media, it’s not much good unless people are actually clicking on that link to read it. You don’t even have to see an article, let alone read it, in order to share it.
More importantly, clicks can lead to conversions particularly if that link takes you to a page with an effective call-to-action, a compelling offer, or something that leads people to pick up the phone or to send you an email to learn more. No clicks = zero chance for conversions and zero conversions = zero dollars. That’s about it in a nutshell
We are not going to look at promoted, sponsored, or any other kind of Twitter ads although they do have value. We are on a budget. Nor am I an enterprise level company so I don’t have the money, or the inclination, to pay for someone or something to perform these services for me (applications, agencies, or smart people). What can people like us do to ensure that we are getting the most bang for our social buck?
Step 1 – Build the right network
Certainly, having a network that is of an adequate size will be important for extending the reach of your message. However, I am of the opinion that who is in your network is maybe of even more importance than is the size of it. The right network has the right people but, who are they?
- They are well recognized and respected.
- They share a common target market with you.
- You have built a relationship with these folks that is mutually beneficial.
Think about this. If an influential person shares your articles with their network, will this same network be more likely to want to click on that link vs. if that message is coming from someone who they don’t know or respect? The answer is … “Of course they will!” Remember that your goal is clicks, not tweets. Your message has received the social media equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
These same influential people got to be this way because they probably engage, have a higher than average Klout score, and they are more than happy to help those who they have built a relationship with. Leverage that by emulating what they do!
Key takeaway – Who shares your message trumps how often your message is being shared when it comes to link clicks!
Step 2 – Share good stuff!
While we are discussing Twitter in this article, your messages will likely be shared across different networks and it is important to remember that your updates should be appropriate for each specific platform. It is also critical that you share messages that are in alignment with your brand. This is why people follow you and these are the types of information that they have come to expect, and find to be of value, from you.
Beyond that, you should have several quality content sources:
- Links to pages on your website including posts and landing pages.
- Slide decks (SlideShare is a great way to do this).
- Quality articles from other sources (it should not always be about you).
- Retweets and shares from other members in your network (remember that we are building relationships and an integral part of this is giving instead of getting).
Key takeaway – Mix it up!
Step 3 – Craft your shares
First place yourself in the position of answering this question. Given the large volume of tweets that roll past your fingers every day, what is it that will cause you to take a closer look at any one of them? When do you retweet? What was it about that one tweet that caused you to click that link that they shared? Here are some tips for crafting that message and that message needs to be enticing!
- Limit the length of your message to no more than 120 characters in order to allow room for classic RT style retweets.
- The judicious use of hashtags (two or less) can make your tweet more attractive. Remember that hashtags are searchable therefore, if someone is clicking on a hashtag, there is a better than average chance that they might be looking for that product or service.
- Images attract attention and create interest! Try to add images to your tweets whenever it is appropriate and possible.
- People care about results so … create messaging that lets people know what might be in it for them if they click your link.
- People also like free stuff. Can your message include an offer of a free eBook or some other goodie?
- If you are really pushing one particular link, think about pinning that message to the top of your homepage feed and be sure to add an image. Everybody who looks at my profile, who is thinking about following me, is currently seeing this update …
Finally, use link shorteners that will allow you to track your results. Link shorteners are offered by a variety of services. They were initially introduced as a response to Twitter’s update limitation of 140 characters and that does include any URL that may be a part of your update. Some URLs can be in excess of the 140 characters all by themselves. When choosing a link shortening service, for our purposes today, I want to choose one that will allow me to track link clicks. I am going to suggest that you consider bit.ly but, Twitter, Hootsuite, and Buffer all offer similar capabilities which we will discuss in more depth in Step 5.
There is another area that you should be looking at when crafting your message and that is your actual article itself. We all have sharing tools installed on our websites (you do, don’t you?). We do that in order to make it easier for others to share our stuff with just the click of a button. If you are not already doing so, see if you have the capability of specifying what that message will be.
This site is built on WordPress and I use the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. While we think about this as being a tool for search engine optimization, the SEO title and the meta description can actually be hand-crafted and these are article title and excerpt that are actually being using during social sharing.
Key takeaway – Crafting a really good message takes time but the returns in terms of link clicks will far exceed that investment!
Step 4 – Get the word out
There are two key challenges to distributing your message …
- Distributing it yourself as well as enlisting the help of others.
- Controlling that message when it is being shared by others so that you will be able to track the results.
- Let’s look at both. You will be sharing your message and you will be encouraging others to do the same. There are a number of ways that you can do this as well as being able to pre-schedule your updates including repetitive messages
- Hootsuite will allow you to create a schedule for sharing and this could even be for multiple networks. Hootsuite also offers you the ability to have it choose what those best times to share might be based on when your network is most likely to view them.
- Buffer will also allow you to schedule repetitive message sharing.
The question comes up… “How often is enough and how often is too much?” We don’t want to be viewed as being spammers who are spewing the same message out over and over and clogging the Twitterverse. This fear is probably worse than what is reality. Sharing your message 3-4 times over a 24 hour period is perfectly acceptable and is encouraged. Continuing to share it over the next weeks or months is also encouraged.
Just make sure that all of your shares are not limited to this one message. When somebody looks at your profile, they will see your shares only and if they see the same update over and over again in a row, they will likely move elsewhere. You can also choose to mix up the verbiage of the tweet.
In terms of encouraging distribution by others, and this is particularly important for SMBs who are looking to leverage their internal teams in addition to their external advocates, there are several efficient ways to do this …
- Ask for their help directly and/or include “pls retweet” as a part of your update.
- There are a number of automated services that have been designed for group sharing. These would include GaggleAmp, SharedVue, and Addvocate.
- Create an email of pre-composed tweets and send these out to your supporters.
- Don’t forget to include your message in other mediums such as your newsletters!
All of these methods have several critical elements in common. You control the message, you control the link and the format of that link (your will be able to track it), and you are making it incredibly easy for your advocates to help you to share your message.
Key takeaway – If you don’t control the message, somebody else will and you will lose the ability to track your link clicks!
Step 5 – Track the results and adjust from there
There are a number of ways to track how often your links are clicked and also which tweets were being used to share those links. Please remember that I am a mere salesperson. Power monkeys, who really get this stuff, will likely howl and throw bananas at my basic suggestions so, here are some for you!
- Twitter Analytics – It was not that long ago that this service was only open to advertisers. Now everybody gets it and gets it for free! Twitter Analytics is about to get even better with the recent announcement of their agreement with IBM to use Watson to power this platform. I recently saw somebody express this partnership as “Big Blue meets Big Blue Bird”.
- Hootsuite and Buffer both offer some free analytics but, the really good stuff does require premium accounts.
- Google Analytics is free and will allow you to track social shares. However, you might need to be a neurosurgeon in order to figure out how to do that and I struggle with putting a bandaid on a paper cut.
- Bit.ly is a free service and for tracking links and, for right now at least, this would be my first choice. You can share bit.ly links on just about any platform including sharing platforms. Buffer can be configured to use bit.ly as your shortening service instead of their resident offering. Finally, I do like what they offer!
You will probably want to choose one or two of these services only. Other areas to consider would be to use A/B testing in order to evaluate tweet language that will spur your followers into clicking action. Create specific website pages and only promote those via Twitter. Now, even I can use Google Analytics to track those results! Ultimately, there are no definitive answers. Try new things, assess your results, and adjust from there.
Key takeaway – Be willing to experiment but also be committed to evaluating what works and what does not.
How about you? What are some of the most successful ways that you have found to convert Tweets into clicks?
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.