How much do you really know about social media? Have you ever considered just how many visits those platforms receive each day? Did you know there are literally millions of people daily interacting on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin? And did you know that you can advertise on them for free?
That last sentence probably got your attention didn’t it? Think about it, these giant social media sites actually allow you to promote your website with a banner ad and they’re happy to do it at no charge to you. Sounds incredible right?
Well actually it’s such a simple idea and so easy to do that the only thing that’s incredible about it is the fact that not many people are taking advantage of it.
So here’s your chance to jump on a strategy and reap the benefits before your competition figures it out.
It’s just such a simple strategy
You know that little photo that you use as your avatar on all of the social media sites blogs and forums? That thumbnail image is the key to getting free advertising on all of these sites. Right now you probably don’t even notice it popping up every time you tweet or post to a blog or update your Facebook page. Right now that little photo is just an image with no voice. But you can change that thumbnail into a free traffic driving promotion for your website with just a little work.
What I’m talking about is changing the thumbnail into a banner ad.
Banner ads in action – a real life example
My wife Arlene is passionate about advocating for and supporting families that have a child with epilepsy. Our son Adam had his first seizure when he was only four years old and as the disease progressed he was experiencing up to 300 seizures per day. Life for all of us was different back then. But Arlene persevered in a search for a cure that didn’t involve drugs and today Adam is 20 and has been seizure and drug free for 10 years. That’s a story Arlene wants to share with other mothers and she felt the best way to do that was through a website.
Not having any technical skills she turned to outsourcing to have the site built. But the one feature that she knew would be popular and helpful was a podcast she had done so she made sure it was available on the site.
Expanding the reach
Knowing you have a powerful message and actually getting people to listen to it are two different things. Fortunately the site was pretty well optimized for natural search so traffic was coming in from search engines. However Arlene wanted to expand her reach and came up with the idea of adding her domain name to her thumbnail.
So she found a graphic designer on a freelance site and had him take her thumbnail image and add a professional looking branding of her domain name at the bottom of the image. Now rather than just being a pretty face the thumbnail had a voice that could direct people to her site. She was so pleased with the results that she ordered a second set of thumbnail banner ads this time promoting not only her domain but the podcast as well.
The designer was a talented person and was able to come up with a professional image that had the domain name and just below it the word “Podcast”. Now the “voice” not only told people where to go but told them what to expect when they got there.
Arlene’s podcasts has been downloaded over 50,000 times and she believes that the thumbnail banner ad is a contributing factor for that success.
Put your thumbnail to work for you
Think a moment about the time you spend interacting on social media. Think about all of the places that your thumbnail appears. Now can you imagine that thumbnail being branded with your domain name and the traffic that would result from it? Every time you Twitter, blog or start a thread or answer a thread in a forum you are getting free promotional advertising for your site.
How easy does it get?
To make this work most efficiently you have to organize just how you want this banner ad to look. Here are a few tips to help you out.
- First and foremost this thumbnail needs to look professional. This banner ad is representing your brand and you don’t want it to look amateurish. Outsource the project to a professional graphic designer. He or she can come up with a brand look that will both impress and inform. He can even do a little digital photo retouching to give your image a crisp professional appearance.
- Don’t overwhelm the image with too much text. For starters you don’t want it to look like a commercial but rather more like a brand that also tells the visitor where to find you. That plus keep in mind the text has to be easily read even in the 50x50 thumbnail.
- Speaking of sizes, in addition to the 50x50 order versions in 80x80, 100x100, 170x170 and 200x200. This should cover all of the different specifications required by the different platforms. It also gives options when you place the thumbnail on your site or in your emails going to your list.
If you’re thinking this is a great idea but the outsourcing is going to be too expensive then think again. Freelance sites like Elance.com or vWorker.com have incredibly talented professionals who will charge reasonable rates. For example this project should run less than $75 and that’s pretty cheap when you consider where you will be advertising.
While you’re at these freelance sites you might acquaint yourself with the incredible array of services available. You can get basic services like content writers and designers to specialists in fields like photo retouching and print production. Outsourcing is a great way to get talented work without paying an arm and a leg.
What’s holding up the show?
Once you have your banner ads in your hot little hands you might consider using a free avatar management service like Gravatar.com to help you with the process of replacing your existing thumbnails. The biggest hurdle you face right now to getting tons of new traffic is procrastination. Layout your project, get your bids, select a contractor and you are well on your way to advertising on the giants for free.
James Martell is a full-time affiliate marketer and has been successfully teaching others to do the same since 2001 via his affiliate marketing trainings. James is a recognized expert in affiliate marketing, natural search, and outsourcing and is a sought after speaker at industry conferences. He has been hosting the first and longest running affiliate marketing podcast since 2003 and resides in White Rock, BC.