Last week on Search Engine Land Neil Patel raised the idea of creating custom landing pages for Social Media. I’m all for it. I’ll try to build on Neil’s ideas and add my thoughts on optimizing this type of landing page.
SMO Success Metrics
One problem people have with Social Media Optimization (SMO) is not understanding what to measure. The problem I’ve faced is getting people to see the value in these metrics. What we know is that increased engagement generally leads to increased conversion (whatever you define it as).
Social Media Metrics
• Landing Exit %
• Subscriptions (RSS, Paid)
• Page Views (I like to see them per user)
• User actions (voting, commenting)
• Return Visits
• Total Referrer URLs
Scoring is a cool strategy we use at OTTO’s blog to give each action on the page a value, e.g. if a user views the most recent post that is worth five points. Viewing an older post may be worth seven points. A user comment may be worth ten points, etc. Create a page scorecard and run an A/B/C test. The score for each version gives you a great holistic view of the ultimate value of each design.
SMO Source Segmentation
To begin optimizing any landing page we must first take into consideration source traffic. We need to be able to recognize the URL so we can filter performance. This segmentation also will enable us to create highly targeted content based on a key factor that tells us something about the user, source.
I know that someone coming from Avinash’s blog to mine is highly interested in analytics. That’s a gold nugget for optimizing engagement. I have an entire category of analytic posts that I can target this user with to get them interested in my content, my feed and engaging with my site.
On the other hand, I get a decent amount of visitors from Search Engine Watch. These users are likely less interested in analytics and would be more interested in the bevy of SEM content I have to offer them. These sources help inform our strategies to wrap contextual relevance around the main content areas users are coming to the site to consume or participate in.
Ideally we already have a baseline understanding of site performance. In any case all the landing page optimization ideas will need to be tested in a measured environment where we can see results of the control group against the tested elements. Even though my presumption was that SEW readers want to see the SEM content I have done enough tests to know that results are many times counter-intuitive. In fact, it is quite possible that SEW readers may prefer analytics content.
There are lots of other ways to optimize social media sites, especially blogs. Take the homepage of Search Engine Land as an example. Better to have a bunch of summaries or one single post with clear links to recent posts?
Currently I’m running a test on this blog to measure the amount of visits and/or page views before someone subscribes. My hypothesis is that it takes more than one visit and/or more than one page-view before users will add my feed. If this is true I can use that behavioral segment (second visit) to target content that will make it more likely they will be interested upon landing based on their first visit behavior.
Neil makes some great examples in his post about removing information that users will not respond to. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, here is a case study on it. However removing ads from social media will be difficult as more sites move to and rely on this model. A balance will need to be found. Testing is the only way to optimize this balance.
Delivering Contextual Relevance
The key to creating quality landing pages for Social Media, and any content driven site is delivering contextual relevance. If the user has arrived on the page they have expressed an interest or intent in consuming the content. They have not expressed an interest to consume more content nor have they expressed an interest in engaging in the site. This is what we want to optimize for. Ideally contextual relevance is delivered dynamically. If not, it can be delivered statically as long as we have the ability to change the content easily and based on data. Static delivery of content also works best when it is user controlled. Self-selection is a powerful optimization tool.
Take a look at the right rail of this blog. The BlogTribe widget is optimizing social media by delivering relevance. It works by looking at the articles that have been viewed across a number of like -minded blogs and adjusts the content so that it is contextually relevant based on a number of quantitative and qualitative insights into what is contextually relevant to this audience.
What is important is that relevant information be delivered. This means links and content merchandising. There a few ways to do this. For more detail I’ve written in the past about optimizing your content pages and my presentation last fall at OMMA on optimizing content, “When Every Page is a Landing Page” is below.
When optimizing Social Media landing pages many of the same rules apply to Social Media as they do to retail, lead-gen, and especially media publishing. In fact, your Social site is a segment unto itself. One that is extremely valuable to marketers. Most importantly however, it will become more valuable to your visitors and users if you optimize it by delivering relevance on the landing.