Smart Ways to Influence Social Media Traffic

Colorful crowd on a festival.

With the meteoric rise of social media like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest the rules for spreading your message online have changed.

It’s no longer about simply optimizing content and building links for Google.

Popular social media posts get substantial traffic in the thousands. This can work financially. In case you “go viral” you’ll get people flocking to your site from all over the Web.

When you have CPM (cost per mille, paid per 1000 impressions) ads on your blog or publication you earn money even when the visitors don’t convert to sales.

How to Influence People on Social Media

After years of looking closely at what happens or doesn’t when sharing content I came up with a list of factors that influence whether a piece of content will work on social media.

You don’t have to be an influencer with millions of followers to actually influence people on social media. Everybody does more or less. You can improve that process.

Here are some smart ways to make your social media efforts count. It’s about genuine social media use for organic reach.


Which topic do you cover? Is there a matching audience on the particular social site? Is the topic popular enough or should you choose a broader one (like technology instead of Linux)?

Will it get you only a few visitors who are die hard fans or is your content off topic in the context of the community or social site in general?

Choose the topic wisely and make sure it’s a match for the social media audience you want to serve. Do not play rock music in a jazz club.

General interest

Is the share of general interest for a wider audience or is it just valuable for o very small community? Is this community on the social site you use or at least partly?

How can you make your content interesting for a wider audience? You can make it

  • humorous
  • bizarre
  • geeky.

This way you gain the attention of a larger group. When in doubt add Star Wars to it or broaden the scope.

How Linux Can Save Your Marriage ventures beyond the narrow niche while benefiting from community support.


In order for a share to work on social media you need friends but not just any friends. You need those who follow the same topics as you.

Your existing friends will amplify your message first so that others who don’t you can notice it at all. Make friends before you share your own content!

Ask yourself: Are your friends interested in this topic? Mine are interested in search, social media and blogging but most ignore my art, cycling or parkour shares.

Do you know somebody who follows and engages a lot in this niche? Maybe it’s better to let someone else who has more friends spread the word.


Do you share while most users (in the US) are asleep? Do you publish on the weekend when most of the business users are offline?

Do you share a story too late, when several others have already shared other sources?

On weekends most people interested in business won’t see your discovery. Also sharing a story after several have reported it already will not lead to success.


Sometimes sharing a post in the “right” community won’t make you succeed. For instance an article like “Why Linux Sucks” certainly won’t work on the Linux forums.

Ask yourself: Does the group of people subscribing to the respective channel approve of your message?

Does a certain audience prefer images or videos? People interested in birding want to see images of birds not essays about birds.


There are many pitfalls on social media. People can ignore you but they can also report you or get angry at you.

  • Does your share content contain offensive imagery or strong language? Some people will disapprove of that or downright block and report it.
  • Does your share display a certain political bias? You may lose followers when sharing it.
  • Is the source you share from a low quality site nobody trusts? Work with main stream topics and sources.

Try to reduce the risk of such pitfalls by consciously looking out for them upfront.

I often share radical art, weird bikes and climate change articles from obscure sources that only a few people are interested in or agree with. This way the rarely get popular.


Is the page you submit attractive enough to work by itself or does it need an initial push? In case it needs one send it out to your friends or just those you know are leaders in a certain niche.

In many cases algorithms may prevent you from succeeding when the “Usual suspects” share something though. Try to reach out to new people as well.

Can you motivate your friends outside of your inner circle to share? Twitter or Skype might be your tools of choice here.

Some algorithm devalues shares by friends when they were suggested through the system. Will the content work after the initial push?

You can ask dozens of friends to push you but with other people approving as well you won’t succeed on social media, the traffic will rather equal the number of friends.

Do Not Just Promote Yourself

You are not advised to solely self-promote your brand like you often see it on Twitter. People do not befriend logos usually.

Unless your name is Apple, Tesla or WordPress many people will ignore business accounts in most cases.

Make sure to promote others and to curate valuable content.

Sher links from multiple source and by many authors not just yours. This way you grow an engaged audience over time who will support you one day.