Your brand is thriving on Instagram. Your latest TikTok video was a hit. Your snaps keep everything fresh.
But how do you get some of that love to equal social media traffic to the site where you actually sell your creative work and tell your story?
Your website is the centerpiece of your digital ecosystem -- the more traffic you drive to it, the more impact it can have achieving the goals of your business, whether that’s to sell your music, offer your photography services, or promote your upcoming book. Your site is your owned domain — you’re not renting it, you’ve built it on your property, and you control all the rules.
In contrast, building your brand on Facebook is renting that space on Facebook. You don’t have control over design updates, algorithm changes, or what happens at Zuckerberg’s next Congressional hearing. If Facebook's operations are disrupted, you could lose all access to the audience you've built on their platforms.
This is why cultivating an audience for your website is still the golden standard for both established and emerging creative brands. Your website plays several strong roles for your business -- it is your home on the internet and establishes your domain authority over time, driving more people to discover you through search; it is your #1 employee, always working, providing content and utility that helps convert your audience; and it is an always-on storefront, open 24/7, for a global customer base of people looking to support your creative work.
Perhaps you've just set up your digital print shop on your website, put out your "OPEN" for business sign, and wondered where all the traffic is and why you aren’t selling more art prints. Or perhaps you saw big initial growth from your fashion brand site only to hit a plateau on both your traffic and sales after a few months.
Traffic won't magically appear after you build a website — you have to actively create the roads, detours, and billboards that bring in traffic.
The good news is that traffic levels in general have increased. Global growth trends show that internet usage around the world continues to explode, with July 2020 being a key turning point — the first time in history that more than half of the world's population (3.96 billion) is now online, according to the We Are Social Global Digital Report 2020. In the last 12 months, more than 1 million people a day started using social media for the first time.
Search is also booming. Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day. 15% of all searches have never been searched before on Google, out of trillions of searches every year. Having a strong website helps you capture more of this booming search traffic.
What's more, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift online and has dramatically increased the amount of time consumers spend consuming online media, engaging in social media activities and shopping online from home more than ever.
Before we move on, let's do a quick check of your current traffic patterns: what do they look like? What topline insights can we glean from your website's analytics dashboard. If you're using Google Analytics or Squarespace or your website's built-in analytics, do a quick simple check for organic traffic sources: where is your traffic currently coming from? You might find (as for most people), that a majority of your traffic is coming from search, or direct hits (people typing in your website URL), with smaller bumps in traffic coming from social media channels. How can you do more of what's working and less of what's not? Are there other types of traffic tactics you can experiment with?
Where is your audience currently hanging out online? How can you siphon off a bit of that social media traffic and get them to detour their route to your website instead? Here are a few ways to boost website traffic using social channels.
Turn your Social Profile Bio into a billboard for your website and provide a link URL so that people can easily click back to your website. This way, social followers will be able to buy your music, enroll in your photography class, or pre-order from your upcoming collection with just one click.
Even more than the feed, Stories is the most engaging type of content on Instagram and even Facebook. The algorithm prioritizes Stories so it shows up at the very top of the feed, and when your friends post Stories, they are highlighted in a different color and emphasized with motion and animations at the top of the page. You can use this prized real estate of Instagram and Facebook stories to detour social media traffic to your site. Stories are a great place to share more in-the-moment information, like your ceramics holiday sale or the newest painting you just listed on your shop
Google ranks Medium highly and you're able to self-publish articles there that will gain SEO authority and priority rankings on Google, versus starting from scratch on your own domain. Why does Google prioritize Medium? It's a publisher network with a trusted network of backlinks that it has built over time as more influential writers and authors have joined the platform and linked back to it from other trustworthy publications.
While social media giants like Facebook and Instagram often get all the glory, Pinterest has quietly been building a social shopping and e-commerce powerhouse to hone in on their incredibly valuable audience. Pinterest is an underrated conversion-ready shopping site with an audience looking to buy, and it’s perfect for any visually-driven creative work like fashion, art, photography, pottery, jewelry, or other crafts. Simply repurposing your content for Pinterest, or pointing pins back to your site, will generate secret side roads of social media traffic.
Organic reach has been dead for quite some time on Facebook, but it still reigns on TikTok, a social platform that does not rely on your social network but instead on its advanced algorithm that determines what you'll most likely be interested in, displayed on your #fyp for you page. In other words, TikTok is not a social graph, but an interest graph — and still in its early days, so it's still generating significantly higher levels of reach, impressions, and social media traffic.
Meet the author:
Sharon Panleo is a founding instructor at Parsons’ Entrepreneur Academy and will be leading the Digital Marketing course in Spring 2021. You can learn more about Sharon and her fabulous work by --of course!--going to her site at https://www.hellopanelo.com.
The Parsons Entrepreneur Academy--Powered by the Parsons School of Design--is an online platform dedicated to helping creative professionals learn and master the business side of their professions. We provide community, mentoring and courses created for and by people in the creative fields. Sign-up for our emails and learn how to turn your art into a business.