(This post was originally published on April 6, 2015, and has been updated to be even more amazing!)
While SEO is definitely important, search engines are not the only way for people to learn about your website. Facebook is a great way to drive traffic to your website – in fact, a report from Shareaholic found that Facebook drives more website traffic than any other social platform. And to complete the cycle, more traffic to your website means a better ranking in search engine results.
When you’re looking at your Facebook Page Insights, it is easy to get excessively hung up on statistics like engagement, Page likes, and post reach – which can make it easy to forget that the ultimate goal of all of these targets is to turn people into customers. Facebook is a great way to reach your target audience, build trust, and become known as the pet health expert in your community, so that you’re the first practice that comes to mind when someone needs a veterinarian.
In order to do that, the intermediate step is to get all of these followers to make the click from Facebook to your website. If Facebook is the barbecue happening on your front lawn, your website is your practice’s online building.
To take that analogy a step further: on Facebook, people are getting to know you, checking out who else is there, and figuring out whether they like you – you know, as people. While some of them might feel a connection and decide to book an appointment right then and there, the majority need to learn more. Clicking through to your website is like taking a peek inside your practice, seeing who is there, what is offered, and taking one more step towards booking that appointment.
The trick is to make it easy for people at your barbecue to take that peek inside your building. Here are 7 tips to help you prop the door open.
1. Optimize your Facebook Page for website clicks.
First and foremost, people can’t click through to your website if they can’t find the link – so put it everywhere that makes sense.
- Your “About” tab.
- Photo and video descriptions where appropriate.
- Timeline milestones – e.g. if you have a milestone for “Moved to [new address]” include the link to the page of your website that has directions to your practice; if you have a milestone for when you began offering a new service, link to your “Services” page, etc.
- In every Page post that invites people to visit or call.
- Every Event page.
You should also considering a call-to-action button to your profile. The call-to-action button is a handy little feature that appears at the top of your Facebook Page, next to the Like button. When visitors click the button, they are taken to the web page of your choosing, such as a contact form or an email sign-up page. This post has step-by-step instructions to help you add one.
2. Have a steady stream of fresh content on your website.
Posting funny pictures, cat videos, and links to news and educational articles are great ways to entertain your fans – but they don’t drive traffic to your website. How can you post about your website all the time when there’s only so much to see – and so much to say about it?
Blogging is your answer. A steady stream of fresh content gives you something to promote on Facebook, gives your followers something interesting to read, and keeps them coming back for more.
3. Optimize your content for shares.
You don’t have to do all the heavy lifting! Once you have a blog that is regularly updated with fresh content, make it easy for other people to share on Facebook. Including social sharing buttons provides a one-step way for people to send your content – with a link to your website – to their own Facebook timeline for their friends to see – and hopefully click.
4. Use big images.
Visual content is king – posts with photos get more engagement, including likes, comments, shares, and CLICKS, than text alone.
Using big images on your website and blog gives Facebook something to pull in when you (or your readers!) share a link (see #6 below) – and they make the page attractive for the user after they’ve clicked through. A good rule of thumb for images that look good on Facebook is to set their dimensions to 1200 x 628.
5. Craft compelling text.
The text you include with your link could win – or lose – the click. You want to describe the content in enough detail to give readers a reason to leave Facebook in favor of clicking to your site without sounding spammy.
Some best practices:
- Remember that people hate click-bait – they may click but they will “bounce,” which is bad for both your Facebook reach and your website’s search ranking.
- Avoid all-caps unless you really mean it – having caps in every teaser is a turnoff, especially when the subject doesn’t warrant them.
- Use a friendly tone, and don’t be afraid to use humor – remember, you’re at a barbecue. Write your Facebook post the way you would talk about it if you were telling someone they should read your blog.
- Make sure your blog posts have compelling titles. The title will show in the link preview, so it becomes a part of your Facebook post, and an irresistible title goes halfway to getting the click.
6. Use Facebook’s Link Share view.
A lot of Page administrators – including us – used to share links by uploading a big, pretty picture, then putting the link in the status update. Seems logical, given that photos do well.
As it turns out, Facebook’s data show that people are more likely to click on a link that was shared using their “link share” feature. As such, their algorithms have been updated to favor the link share view when deciding what content to show to whom. So using this view means both more reach, and more clicks.
[Related: Don’t Annoy the Algorithms: Facebook FYIs]
Facebook used to force you to use the image in your blog post as the teaser image for your blog post, but now you can choose one of many images from your blog post, or even upload your own! If you do decide to upload your own, be sure to use a large image (preferably 1200 x 628) to make sure the image is clear and not cut off.
The easiest way to get your Facebook posts in front of your desired audience is to put a little money in. Facebook has a ton of options when it comes to targeting your ads, including: getting more reach among your current fans; showing an ad only to local pet owners who don’t already like your Page; and even showing it to people who like your competition.
You can start advertising for as little as $5 and there are lots of reports and measures to show you what kind of return you’re getting.
Using Facebook to drive traffic to your website isn’t hard, and it can be an effective part of your overall veterinary practice marketing strategy. Figuratively speaking, having that barbecue on your front lawn is a great way to draw people in and help them get to know you. Then, you make it easy for them to walk in your front door so they get a feel for your expertise and some ways that you can help them. Finally, when they need the help you can offer, your practice will be the first place that springs to mind.