If social media is essential to your day job, you are likely far too familiar with that disappointing feeling of watching your carefully crafted Facebook post reach only 90 people despite having 5,000 + Facebook “Likes” on your page. Sigh.
Digital marketers and small business owners everywhere have been experiencing increasingly limited organic reach and effectiveness of using social networks for a while. While shrinking organic reach is nothing new, some significant changes in early 2018 are going to require a fundamental rethinking of the way businesses approach digital marketing—and how domain names can play a key role.
The state of social media algorithms in 2018
It is easy to forget that Facebook, Twitter, and every other social media platform, are businesses. While you may use them for free, they make their money off ad dollars, and your data. This means that Facebook is incentivized to keep you on their site as long as possible, and ensure that the only clicks are for ads. In this environment, a click off their site (to your website), means a lost visitor (and lost revenue).
Social media algorithms constantly evolving, but recent shifts have focused primarily on keeping users on their platforms for as long as possible. Rand Fishkin of Moz recently did an interesting Whiteboard Friday on this trend. The reality is that something as innocent and intuitive as including a link in your Tweet can dock you points on Twitter's algorithm. Moz outlines the dilemma that these recent changes to organic social posts present to digital marketers: either play to the algorithms or just go ahead and keep including links to your website in social posts. Ultimately, he recommends hitting a balance of both.
Social ads and algorithms
Many businesses, including our friends down the street at Klipfolio (*waves from CIRA's rooftop patio*) have seen some great results with social ads – check out their post on what they learned from spending $100,000 on Facebook ads.
Awesome! I'd love to experiment with social ads, but I don't have any budget for that. My boss think that social media is free. And plus, they say that they never click on those ads anyways, so that means no one does, right?
Digital marketers everywhere as they face palm
We get it. Not everyone has the opportunity to work with a budget of that size. Not to mention, your business may not have the expertise, time or patience to deal with the … intricate backend of Facebook's advertising platform.
So, rather than struggling to keep your head above water in the ever-changing world of algorithms, maybe it's time to put the social back in social media – start a poll, share videos, create a meme, tweet GIFs and actually engage with your audience. Start a conversation, ditch the click-bait, and give the people what they want! Marketers may be miffed by these recent algorithm changes, but ultimately they are designed to improve the experience of the user. Remember when social media was all about conversations, authenticity, engagement, and real human interaction? Some point along the way, many brands left that in the rearview mirror and began treating social media as another pushy sales platform. Buy my product! Read my blog post! Look at me! Nobody wants that, and these new algorithms are being put in place to reintegrate authenticity and engagements on social platforms.
Social media really excels as a top-of-funnel marketing platform, a place where you can authentically build your brand, showcase your personality, and have real interactions with your customers and prospects. But I know what you're probably thinking about this option.
This is great and all, but I need to drive traffic to my website. My blog needs eyeballs. I need form completions. I have newsletter subscriber targets.
Frustrated digital marketer
I get it. You don't have budget for paid social, and while keeping users engaged on the social media platform is important and great for brand awareness – it doesn't necessarily result in leads, let alone immediately recognized revenue. Moz does a great overview of the current landscape and their suggestions; we've been incorporating them into CIRA's social media strategies. But how do you use social media to get people to your website? Well, we want to throw in another piece of the puzzle that might help: an awesome domain name strategy.
How to leverage your domain name and social media to drive traffic to your website
We believe that a good digital marketing strategy incorporates both a social media presence and website. Relying solely on social media is a risky strategy, specifically because you're at the mercy of algorithm changes. The goal is to get people visiting your website, reading your blog posts, and engaging with your content, which is at odds with the algorithms.
How do you use social media to get people to your website? As we see the shift away from links and “promotional” organic content on social, the quality of your domain name has never been more important. Your domain name is your brand online. Everything you do – online and offline – points people back to your website.
It can give you an edge when, for example, someone who has been engaging with your brand on Instagram can check on your latest blog post by typing in your domain name instead of having to find the link in your bio. Ever wonder why Instagram doesn't make it easy to add links to your posts? Now you know.
Having someone type your domain name directly into a browser – what translates to direct traffic in Google Analytics – is extremely valuable. Think about it. Not only did that person think of your brand when they had a need, they knew your domain name. It's the sign of a strong relationship, like in the olden days when you knew your friend's phone number off by heart. There are some differing opinions out there, but we still strongly believe that domain names are an essential component of a business' marketing strategy as they still contribute to improved SEO, security, credibility and strengthening your brand.
How to build a domain name strategy
So your domain name has got to be good – scratch that – it's got to be great! Generally a great domain name is:
- easy to spell
Domain names not only allow you to own your own piece of internet real estate, but they are relatively inexpensive meaning that registering multiple domain names is a viable option for businesses that are looking to own and protect their brand online.
If you already have an established domain name and website, we'd recommend incorporating a domain name portfolio into your marketing strategy. Beau's All Natural Brewery is a great example of a small business that utilizes the memorability of domain names. Their portfolio consists of specific websites for the various events they hold through the year, like beausoktoberfest.ca and stpatricksparty.ca. Easy to remember and easy to type.
It's both a challenging and exciting time to be working in the digital marketing space. If you've been relying on social media to get brand impressions, and more importantly, clicks to your website, you're probably feeling the heat these days. But the good news is, there are several strategies you can use to create lasting relationships with your audiences.
At the end of the day, our advice is always “don't build your house on rented land”. Social media is a great vehicle to engage with customers and each platform serves its own purpose, while your website is your own piece of the internet that you control. And something that can create a better connection between the two is a great domain name.