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There are 3 types of social media traffic but the majority of small businesses are trudging like a blinkered horse in the mud going after only one of them while ignoring the two - ahem, FAR FASTER, LESS MUDDY - options.
My job as a social media manager is to pull their horse out of the mud and get small business owners to consider what types of traffic and sub-traffic they intend to pursue before they start marketing. I help them to focus on the metrics that matter, have a strategic path forward, and target traffic with a lot less daily grind and drudgery.
So understanding social media traffic types as well as the sub-types is one of the first steps to take to get that marketing horse going at the pace we want it to go.
So last week I revealed my Masterplan to start transitioning out of earning an income mainly from freelancing. This is a peak into the details of Step #1, which is all about building TRAFFIC.
Let's get into the 3 types of social media traffic and why you need to be targeting ALL 3 of them!
Type 1: Earned Traffic
Earned traffic is the one everybody knows about and pursues the most.
It's organic (free) but it's also slow AF. It will take you forever to build an audience. And you're always going to be wrestling with shifting algorithms with organic social media.
You earn it with consistent 'quality content' (and a 'eff ton of patience!).
These days, marketing that solely relies on earned traffic isn't a worthwhile strategy.
It's what I call an effort to 'keep the doors looking open' at best.
So unless looking 'open' is all you intend to do, never stop at organic social media marketing!
Type 2: Bought Traffic
Bought social media traffic is paid advertising.
It's not free obviously, but it's FAST.
And it can be done at a profit if you know what you're doing - that's in step #4 of my personal marketing Masterplan.
Why more people don't take the time to run ads is because the ad set-up seems complicated and people are afraid of losing their money.
I totally get that. I felt that way when I started out, too, and I avoided using them for years.
"Ads don't work" is one of the most common complaints I hear. But that's only because most people aren't using them correctly.
Most people think "sales" when they think about social media, so they set-up an ad that runs straight to a product or offer - and to make it worse, they often even do this with a stone-cold audience!
That just ain't ever going to work unless you hire an advanced direct response copywriting ad expert.
So here's what you can do instead:
Stop focusing on sales - that is the end goal but with social media marketing you need to go more meta and focus on traffic.
Focus on building an audience and traffic first. Create a mouth-watering free optin offer like a checklist or free training, and run continuous ads to THAT.
Basically, build your email list and let that be the engine from which you can then drive all your warm traffic to your products, services, blog posts, videos, whatever.
Focus ads on email to build bought traffic.
Type 3: Rented Traffic
This third type is owned by someone else - you just step into their traffic flow and get some sent your way.
So this looks like a shout-out, a joint venture, affiliate marketing, being a guest on a podcast or YouTube channel - anything where you are bouncing off of someone else's traffic.
It's probably the most ignored and neglected form of marketing, yet also the best!
No ad can ever beat the social proof of a trusted friend's recommendation. That's why rented traffic works like magic! It turbochargers the know, like, and trust cycle.
It's the best traffic you can get - and best of all, it's often completely free! It just takes a little more effort to put yourself in the path of the people who hold the audience you seek and ask them if they would like to collaborate.
The 2 Sub-Types of Traffic: Search & Interruption
Now let's go another level and look at the sub-types of each one of the 3 types of social media traffic: the sub-types of search vs interruption.
If you're selling anything that solves a problem for people, you're going to want to focus more on setting up your marketing for search traffic than interruption traffic.
If you sell luxury things or inspiration, you'll fare better with interruption.
Sub-Type 1: Search-Based Traffic
Search traffic is what people are Googling for - What foods are bad for puppies? How do I hem a pair of pants? What can I cook with eggplant and sweet potato? The key to setting up your marketing to attract search traffic is knowing your keywords and how Search Engine Optimization works.
Pinterest and YouTube are search-based traffic platforms that work with Google, so be sure to be on both of those if you solve problems with what you do.
Keywords are also vitally important for hashtags on Instagram or LinkedIn.
So make sure you do your keyword research before you start marketing, and target the right platforms for your type of business.
Make your content answer the questions people actively seek, and you'll grow a following with a primarily search-based traffic strategy.
Sub-Type 1: Interruption Traffic
On the other hand, interruption-based social media traffic is as described - you're barging in on the feeds and eyeballs of random users. This describes all the traffic from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Luxury products and services and inspirational or aspirational businesses like massage, travel, and jewelry, will do better with interruption traffic.
Aim for the max emotional impact with your words and images to capture interruption traffic. You literally have to stop people scrolling so you need to aim to stand out.
One thing to keep in mind with interruption-based traffic is that you can't keep doing the same things for long. You need to change up the look and type of your content more frequently than on search-based platforms. Publish a constant mix of video, gifs, memes, and photos to keep things interesting.
Scrolling people are bored people, so your job is to create drama, intrigue, bellylaughs, awe or fascination.
This is why interruption-based platforms can be so exhausting!
You constantly have to be re-inventing things and maxing out your creativity in coming up with a new approach to sustain attention.
Conclusion: A killer marketing plan will take on all 3 types of social media and cater for each sub-type, too.
The most effective marketing strategy is going to be the one that does the entire tap-dance: earned-organic, ongoing ads, and frequent collaborations with others.
But if you chose NOT to do all 3, just don't go with only earned by itself unless you think the sound of crickets is just lovely and you have loads and loads of time to kill.
Because that's what most organic marketing approaches sound like compared to those that actively run ongoing ads and reach out to other users for collabs.
Want to join me on my journey from a self-employed freelancer to a digital asset-based business owner?
Join me and other creative women as I share my first-hand, in-the-trenches experiences in acquiring the 3 types of social media traffic in my Facebook group, Marketing for Creative and Unconventional Women & Gender Diverse.
Come and join us and let’s grow our online empires together!