Recent research by CodeFuel, an engagement and monetization suite for publishers, and Nielsen found that website visitors from social media have a tendency to leave after a short period of time compared with traffic from some other sources.
According to the study, visitors from social media are 51 percent likely to leave a website within a short time, versus just 42 percent of visitors who view content due to being referred from a site’s homepage.
While social media as a traffic source is a force to reckon with, it won’t matter much if you can’t retain these visitors. Here are some tips:
Get the visitors to join your newsletter
In a recent blog post, social sharing application Buffer revealed that it has lost one-half of its social traffic in the past 12 months. More important, it doesn’t seem to know the reason behind this.
With social media sites like Facebook constantly tweaking their algorithms to favor advertisers and reduce organic reach and introducing features like Instant Articles to further retain people on their sites, you can only expect fewer people to visit from social media.
More important, due to the high noise-versus-signal ratio on social media, visitors are more likely to spend increasingly reduced time on your site.
The solution, however, is to have visitors–especially from social media sites–join your newsletter. Here’s a screenshot grab from the Buffer article showing a consensus among commenters:
Apparently, many users prefer consuming content from their favorite brands through other channels outside of social media. By having them on your email list, not only do you have the opportunity to highlight your content better and, as a result, increase its importance, but you also have a much higher chance of repeatedly reaching them.
Many of your users want to consume your content through a more focused channel like email. Don’t deprive them that opportunity.
Ensure that your content is optimized for mobile users
The importance of a mobile-optimized experience can’t be overstated. It’s no longer a secret that 80 percent of Facebook users are mobile users, and this seems to be a trend with every major social site.
The CodeFuel study found that 38 percent of users access content from mobile. That’s a lot. When these users land on content that is not optimized for mobile (and, you’d be surprised, there’s a lot, despite the advent of Instant Articles, Google AMP [Accelerated Mobile Pages], etc.) their natural reaction is to bounce back.
It won’t be an overstatement to say that social is mobile. If your content is not optimized for mobile users, you won’t be able to retain social traffic.
Embrace the increasing use of multimedia
Another highlight from the study is that a growing percentage of people prefer content to be in video format. A whopping 39 percent of people prefer entertainment content to be in video format.
The importance of multimedia content can’t be overstated. In fact, research by Wharton School of Business found that an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a purely textual article, and another study found that colored visuals made people 80 percent more likely to read a piece of content.
If you’ve mainly been using text for your content, using visuals and other forms of media will ensure that social visitors spend a lot more time on your content.
Keep content short and simple
Research is increasingly linking social media usage to declining attention spans–naturally, that much information in one person’s timeline must have its toll! In fact, a recent study by Microsoft found that the average human attention span is now eight seconds, from about 12 seconds in the year 2000.
If you’d like to retain more of your social visits, make sure your content is short, simple and easily digestible. Properly format your content, making it scannable, too.
Focus on the user experience
The CodeFuel study cites long loading times and interruptions (such as popups) as the main reasons why people abandon websites. It makes sense: You will naturally be appalled when you visit a random site via social media and you’re first hit with a popup, or, better yet, you waited a minute and the site hasn’t fully loaded.
Research has shown a direct link between site speed and time spent on site, as well as conversions. Spend more time on optimizing the user experience by making your site faster. Your site shouldn’t just be faster, but access to your content should be, too. Working on this will ensure that you’re able to retain a significant portion of visits to your site.
Harald Merckel is a freelance writer whose primary focuses are business, e-gaming and marketing.
Image on homepage courtesy of Shutterstock.