How You Can Maximize Social Impact Using the Social Signal Funnel

by Emily Oswalt on April 13, 2017

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We mentioned the"social signal funnel" in past articles to talk about how people respond to social media content, and we'd like to discuss specifically what we mean. This funnel is a way of thinking about social media marketing that may prove very useful when structuring and publishing your content – and understanding how people react to it. Let's dive in!

The Social Signal Funnel

This funnel, like the buyer's funnel, describes how people progress from learning about something to taking direct action. Social signals refer to any action a viewer takes on social media – a like, a comment, a share, a retweet, copying and using a hashtag, and quite a few other things. One reason people have trouble connecting social signals to concrete SEO results is because they ignore that social signals follow a funnel. A single social signal doesn't exist in a void – it is connected to a process by which a viewer interacts with social media content. Early on in the funnel, social signals may not have much effect. But they lead further down the funnel, to end actions that have a very real impact on SEO, visibility, and audience. Let's talk about it in terms of the traditional funnel, TOFU, MOFU and BOFU.

  • Top of the Funnel: Here social signals are very basic. Visibility is the earliest form of social signaling, and visibility is indeed affected by the quality of the content, how it's posted, and so on. Also here are low-effort signals that don't have much of an immediate impact, such as Likes and Hearts and similar "I agree with this" signals. Even here there is some feedback that increases visibility.
  • Middle of the Funnel: The middle of the funnel includes signals that take a bit more time, like comments on the post, basic retweets, and tagging associates in the comments. The effect on SEO here is still pretty minimal, but this helps with visibility and it builds confidence in the viewer. The effect here is cumulative: Someone who likes the content often likes based on a headline or summary (or because who else liked the content). This makes them more likely to read the post/link in-depth, which in turn makes them more likely to comment. You can see how quality posts draw viewers down the signal funnel.

Here we also see the usefulness of top-funnel signals when it comes to consensus. A person thinking about commenting on a post may be encouraged to do so if the top of the funnel has encouraged a lot of other likes or comments.

  • Bottom of the Funnel: Here a person – often someone who has already liked and commented on the piece – will take a further step and share that content more directly. Sharing posts on Facebook, enthusiastic retweets on Twitter, sharing the post in a blog or email, and using specific brand hashtags all count. These social signals are the endgame, because they have real results. When people post a link to your content or repost it again, it tends to bump up your SEO and benefit your overall standing.

Social Signal Funnels and Calls to Action

As you can see, the goal of the social signal funnel is to get to the dissemination point, where people have interacted enough in a social post to become invested and share that content with others, which has a powerful effect on reach and SEO.

This raises an interesting point about the CTA: The sales funnel CTA is pretty obvious, but what sort of CTA do you use to move people along the social signal funnel? Obviously high quality posts that use links, images, videos, and hashtags will be more effective at gathering participation and guiding viewers down the funnel. However, there's nothing wrong with asking! Say, "Tell us what you think in the comments" or, "This is our project, what does your day look like?" or something else that invites interaction. You can also accomplish this with hashtags when appropriate (Twitter and Instagram, for example). It's all right to invite people to move down the funnel!

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Emily Oswalt

As social media manager at 21 Handshake, my passion of social media shines through to bring awareness to your brand. From the latest hashtag trend to engaging influencers, my desire is provide the best content to get your target audience talking online.