We all love search engine traffic. It’s free, it’s accessible and it’s growing at a constant pace as more and more people join Internet and others become more proficient in using search engines.
But let’s face it, you’d never want to rely entirely on search engine traffic to drive leads to your business. And many businesses don’t, especially very large and those very small ones. They usually rely on brand recognition or word of mouth referrals. So I am asking, is there something that can be learned from them, while staying on top of the latest trends?
It seems there is.
Since Facebook overtook Google in traffic for the first time last year, it was very clear that the game is going to change, as far as driving traffic to websites is concerned.
This was true because part of Facebook experience is sharing links to interesting stories and clicking on the recommendations your friends shared. Average user is now more and more likely to search for information on Facebook instead of reaching out to Google. One of the reasons being that information they find on Facebook is much more suited to their current interests, hobbies and social circle by the very nature of the social network itself.
Taking into consideration the Facebook user base of 250 million daily active users, it is clear that Facebook is already a major player in directing traffic around the Web, even surpassing Google as the main traffic source for some of the largest websites in the world.
So what are you going to do about it?
Instead of giving some general ideas that you might expect like “it’s time to consider hiring a dedicated social media manager at your company” I’ll layout few of the concrete steps and experiences we had while integrating Facebook to one of our websites.
TorteKolaci.com Case Study
TorteKolaci.com is a local website about cake recipes. Nothing more and nothing less. If you want to make a nice birthday cake and you need a recipe we would like you to come and check out what our site has to offer. That was our idea behind creating it.
Here is a layout of typical page on the site with highlighted social interaction features.
The name of the game is user engagement. When user is able to successfully engage with the site, it makes them feel more comfortable and they are more likely to share it with people they care about.
Facebook still does not have a rating widget (if it did we would use it) so we used a WordPress plugin instead. The purpose of ratings is to engage users by allowing them to influence the site by giving better or worse rating to a recipe.
We haven’t still used the ratings to full potential and we plan to include a list of top rated recipes in the future. We receive around 100 user ratings daily.
2. Facebook like
A basic Facebook widget is another way of saying you like something that you found on the site, but with one important difference.
Your preference will be visible on your profile page for all your friends to see.
Some recipes (like this one for ice cube cake) have nearly 2,000 likes, a number even sites like Mashable would envy us for.
We have Facebook like two times on the page so you don’t miss it.
3. Surprise recipe
Nothing more than just a redirect to a random recipe, it is another form of user engagement through a simple ‘game’.
When you are done reading about the recipe you came for, you can press this button to visit one of the hundreds of recipes in our database.
4. Facebook comments
Just recently I wrote an article about Facebook Comments vs Blog Comments and about the same time we switched the comments on TorteKolaci.com to Facebook comments exclusively.
Before the change we received around 5-10 comments daily. After the change this number jumped up immediately to 20-30 comments a day!
Main reason seems to be easier accessibility, as now the user can start writing the comment immediately (provided they are already logged into Facebook which most of them are). Compared to standard blog comment form where you need to type in your name, email and website, FB comments are much more likely to be used (in our experience around 3x more likely).
Added bonus of Facebook comments is that the user can easily post the comment directly to their profile page. That brings more attention to their comment but also to the related page.
5. Facebook group
We created TorteKolaci Facebook group as a place for all lovers of sweets to gather around. The group currently has over 9,000 members and is growing every day. It is very vivid and our members engage by sharing their stories, recipes and photos.
Instead of a default Facebook group widget, we created our own which blends into the site much better. I am still not sure whether this has positive or negative impact on new member signups (as this kind of test would be hard to setup) but my gut feeling says positive.
6. Facebook activity feed
Another simple widget, this one shows the activity of your Facebook friends (for example likes and comments) on the site. This is good for two reasons. First recommendations from your friends are by default much more trusted then machine generated ones. Secondly the widget provides additional navigation for the user, with the name and image of every recipe.
Tech tip: we had a problem making Facebook display a proper recipe image in the widget, until I found about meta property og:image which you can use to specify the image URL.
7. Top 10 cooks
The site grows from user submitted recipes. When we made a top 10 list of cooks (by number of recipes) we’ve seen the number of submitted recipes double overnight. People want to get on the list and have their name on the Top 10 list. It also works very well with Facebook (“hey, look at my name on the list”).
8. Send a recipe
Everyone can submit a recipe. By doing so they get a page on the site with all their recipes and their name written in the top 10 list if they qualify. In return the site gets the content. Everyone wins.
Here are some key stats outlined in this article.
- TorteKolaci.com receives 8,500 visitors from Facebook monthly
- Has posts with 2,000 Facebook likes
- 9,000 members in the Facebook group
- 25 new Facebook comments each day
- 100 new user ratings a day
The numbers get more significance when we do some simple math to take into account size of current audience. Considering TorteKolaci.com has relatively small potential audience of about 7 million Internet users total (which is the region of ex-Yugoslavia), we can calculate what the corresponding statistics would be if this site was similarly optimized in a significantly larger USA market with 239 million Internet users.
Site stats would relate to:
- 290,000 visitors from Facebook monthly
- Has posts with 68,000 Facebook likes
- 306,000 members in the Facebook group
- 850 new Facebook comments each day
- 3,400 new user ratings a day
People have different views on Facebook. Some like it, some don’t and some even swore they’ll never have create an account.
I don’t question these, and surely I am in no way affiliated with Facebook. In the context of this article I take mastering Facebook as another professional skill for any Internet marketing agency to add to their arsenal.