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How To Get Click-Through Traffic on the Social Web

by Russ Henneberry

Getting clicks is getting harder and harder but when done properly, the social web can create traffic and conversions for your business.

Allow me to illustrate…

This morning I ran across this in my Twitter feed:

Three minutes later I was registered for the webinar.

8 words. 1 link.

The first step in getting clicks on the social web is understanding “the tease.”  The social web is filled with 140 character tweets, status updates, headlines, ad copy and calls-to-action.

In most cases, the action you want the person to take is not on Twitter, Facebook or within their Gmail.  You need them to click away from what they are doing to a place where they can get more information and convert.

You need to tease them.

It looks like this:


For someone selling web design services it might look like this:


For a project manager looking for new projects it might look like this:


In most cases, the constant is the CLICK.  Therefore, it becomes absolutely critical to understand how to get people to click on those teasers.

We are going to look at nine different types of teasers and talk about what is important in getting those sacred clicks.

1 – Facebook Status Update

Facebook is full of teasers.

Here is a typical Facebook status update:

What gets clicks on Facebook status updates:

  • Social proof –  Facebook is stacked with social proof.  When other people “Like” or “Comment” on your updates it not only spreads your update but also makes it look more credible.
  • Images  –  According to Facebook internal research, Posts including a photo album, a picture or a video generate about 180%, 120%, and 100% more engagement than the average post, respectively.  Take a look at your own news feed and see if you agree.  I know these statistics  pass the sniff test for me.
  • The copy –  Getting people to exit Facebook is difficult. The words that you use in your status updates will need to be compelling without smelling too salesy.  This is a difficult balance to strike.

2 – Google Reader

This goes for any RSS reader and (for that matter) any place the content you are distributing is being viewed.

Here is a typical entry in Google Reader:

Google Reader Snippet

What gets clicks in Google Reader:

  • The headline –  Learn to write informative, specific and compelling headlines that communicate the benefits to the reader if you want clicks on your articles.  The headline in the example above needs work.  It isn’t informative, specific or compelling.  While it does ask a question, it doesn’t provide enough information to motivate a click.
  • The description  –   If your headline gets their attention they will scan the description of the post.   This is typically the first few words from your article but your RSS feed may be set up differently. 
  • Source/Message match –  This is true with all of your teases but particularly in Google Reader.  You have built a reputation.  A brand.  If your headline and description don’t match up with the notions your readers have of you, no click.

3 – Tweet

Twitter can be an enormous source of traffic for your website.

Here is a typical tweet:

Twitter Snippet

Dan Zarrella’s infographic on Twitter click-through rate provides some outstanding insight.

What gets clicks on Twitter:

  • The topic – Links to content rather than promotions will get more click-throughs.
  • The tags  – Tag other people with the @ sign and use popular hashtags to get more exposure.  Use the RT to symbolize a retweet and via to indicate the original source of the content.
  • The timing –   A tweet has the lifespan of a MayFly.  Apps like Buffer aim to optimize the timing of your Tweets so your tweets get seen by the maximum number of people.

4 – Google Adwords (PPC) Ad

Google is queried over a billion times per day.  The searchers are presented with a page full of teasers including AdWords ads along the top and right gutter of the page.

Here is a typical AdWords ad:

I tapped Adam Kreitman of Words That Click, a PPC agency in Saint Louis for this question.  He is an expert on writing Google AdWords ads that get clicks.

What gets clicks on Google AdWords:

  • Numbers and/or symbols – If it makes sense to use these special characters it will help you stand out.
  • Strong, unique offers – Study the art and science of crafting an offer.  Learn more about successful AdWords ads here.
  • Sitelink extensions – These are the additional (and customizable) links you can add to your AdWords ad. They only appear if your ad runs in the top 3 spots on AdWords.

Here is an example of Sitelink extensions in Adwords:

Example Sitelinks in AdWords

5 – Google Organic Listing (SEO)

Google’s “free listings” or organic listings are teasers.

Here is a typical Google Organic listing:

Google Result

What gets clicks on Google Organic (SEO) listings:

  • Placement – More than any other factor your placement in the rankings will matter most.  Roughly one of three searchers will click on one of the top three results in a Google search.  Over half of them will click on one of the top ten teasers.
  • Title Tag, URL, Meta Description  – Notice in the image above the keyword rich title tag, clean URL and meta-description that gives a concise description of the product along with some social proof (Trusted by millions).  The text in your teaser (the search result) will determine whether it gets clicked.
  • Sitelinks – These are the additional (and customizable) links Google will display under your search result.  You can remove sitelinks and a well organized website structure will improve your chances of getting sitelinks displayed but Google displays them at their own discretion.

Here are some example sitelinks in Google:

Crazy Egg Site Links

6 – Email

Your email inbox is full of teasers.

Here is a typical email teaser:

What gets clicks on Emails:

  • The “From” line –  More important than the subject line of the email is the From line.  Build a reputation as someone that sends timely, relevant email that benefits the recipient and your click rates will be high.
  • The “Subject” line  – As Brian Clark at Copyblogger states in this article, the email subject line is a form of headline.  Study good headline formulas and understand why they work to improve your open and click rates.
  • The first line of the email – The first line of the email will often be visible in the recipient’s email client.  If it is compelling, people will click.    As legendary direct marketer Joe Sugarman preached:  the purpose of the headline is to get the first sentence read.  The purpose of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read.

7 – Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads are getting a lot of attention from marketers these days.  Learn to write the correct teaser and you can get a lot of action from Facebook ads.

Here is a typical Facebook ad:

Again, I asked Adam Kreitman to offer his expertise on Facebook Ads.

What gets clicks on Facebook Ads:

8 – LinkedIn Search

People search LinkedIn for people they are considering hiring.  They are presented with a bevy of teasers.

I contacted Josh Turner of Linked University, a LinkedIn training website for this one.  Josh is an expert at creating engagement through LinkedIn.

Here is a typical LinkedIn search result:

What gets clicks on LinkedIn search results:

  • The Headline – A compelling headline that demonstrates the expertise and value you bring to your clients can really set you apart from competitors.
  • The photo – Be sure to include professional, clear profile picture. Having no picture is a sign that you’re not really engaged.
  • The extras – Round out your profile by soliciting recommendations, joining pertinent groups, growing your connections, and listing relevant past experience.

Your LinkedIn search result teaser could look like this:

LinkedIn Snippet

9 – Google Maps Results

What gets clicks in Google Places (Local Search):

The most important thing to take away from this article is that you must begin thinking about the teasers you are distributing across the social web.  There is art and an awful lot of science behind getting people to stop and click through.

Each of the nine channels discussed above are deserving of their own article on gaining click-throughs.   What would you add to this article?  How do you attempt to get more click throughs on the social web?



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Russ Henneberry

Russ Henneberry is the Editorial Director at Digital Marketer. He's worked on digital marketing projects for companies like CrazyEgg, and Network Solutions. You can connect with Russ on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or on his blog.


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  1. Andrew Woo says:
    September 20, 2012 at 5:13 am

    For Facebook Ads, when you mentioned “Ask a question in the headline “, I learnt that its as simple as just doing:

    “Want ” + [your keywords] + “?”

    So if you’re selling Heatmap software, it would be “Want Heatmap Software?”

    • Russ Henneberry says:
      September 20, 2012 at 8:43 am

      Thanks for the quick tip Andrew!

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