One of the biggest buzz terms on the internet today is social media and everyone is talking about how it can be used to drive traffic. But what is social media and how exactly can it help someone in driving traffic to their website? The first part of the question is fairly simple to answer. Social media is the use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to build up friends or followers in order to create a mini-network of sorts. Obviously many people are using these sites to connect with people and share their thoughts and ideas globally with these people on a daily basis. So it would make sense that we could find a way for businesses to use this to develop their own network, right? That’s where the second part to the question above comes into play. How can we use these to drive traffic to our websites? That is a little trickier to answer, but I’m going to try to tackle a few ideas and add my own thoughts to this.
First off, you obviously have to begin by building your network. This will start with creating a profile on the social networking site and finding people that you would like to connect with. On some sites you can actually create a business profile and with others you will have to use groups or lists in association with your profile. For example, Facebook will allow you to create a business page that is connected to your personal profile and Twitter will allow you to create multiple profiles (personal, business, etc.). So after the profiles are created then you need to find people to bring into your networks. This is where some real thought has to come into the mix. Some people choose the route of accepting everybody as a friend or follower and believe that high numbers of people in their network are the best. Others believe that you should have a more intimate relationship with those that are in your network so the list should be smaller. I don’t claim to have the answer to which results in the best traffic, however, I believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle. While it is good to have a substantial base of followers, I don’t necessarily believe that the actual number of people should be the target. You have to establish credibility and trust with those people that become part of your network and allow it to grow itself to some degree. Not only that, but with massive lists of people in your network, it becomes extremely difficult to interact with everyone and you run the risk of isolating many people. By maintaining some control with the size of the network, you allow the network to become more targeted resulting in higher quality traffic.
A common theme with many of my posts is keeping the end goal in mind: more traffic to your business resulting in more sales. But also of equal importance is the quality of that traffic. Just because you are getting large numbers of people visiting your website doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to increase the size of your business. I believe that this is where the strengths of social media really come into play. By establishing a good network of people who have decided to keep up with what you have to say, you are in a great position to establish credibility and trust as well as deliver good quality content to your network. With that in mind, it is very important to communicate with your network and not always be trying to sell them something all of the time. Social media provides the best platform for mixing great content with sales messages without seeming to be constantly sending a pitch for goods and services. Establishing good relationships is really what business is all about.
The hardest part of tackling social media as a marketing tool is all of the noise that is created and filtering the vast variety of messages that are abundant. Not to mention the sheer number of social networking sites that are on the internet. If you add to the mix that you constantly have to find something to say on your profile, and it can be a pretty daunting task. The good news is that there are ways to automate much of the day-to-day tasks that have to be done with social media marketing. By mixing automation with the personal touch of daily activity, much can be accomplished. As with any form of marketing, it always starts with a plan. Plan first then execute the plan daily and monitor results. It doesn’t have to be a daily chore if it is done right and the rewards can be incredible. Start planning on ways to use social media marketing in your business, and if done well, you can increase your traffic numbers and build a sales base beyond your wildest imagination.