Social networking sites refer to any community-driven site that allows social interactions and profile followers. This includes sites such as Twitter and Facebook. From the perspective of a web marketer, the purpose of social networking sites is to drive traffic to your website. They also provide a way to increase your search reputation, web presence, and credibility.
Register your Brand
Be preemptive and register your brand or site name on as many social networking sites as you can find, especially the popular ones in your niche. Even if you have no plans on becoming active on the sites, at least register there so you can reserve a username easily identifiable with your site. Also consider the added link value you get, as many social networking sites allow dofollow links in their profiles.
How to Get Traffic from Social Networks
There are four keys to getting traffic from social networking sites.
Post interesting content.
Increase your number of followers.
Have a well-designed profile.
What to Post
The content you publish on social networks can be largely the same as what you publish in your newsletter or RSS feed if you have one. Basically, you post two kinds of content: promotional and non-promotional.
Your promotional content consists of short snippets encouraging readers to click through and read the full entry on your website or an affiliate website. Be sure to add a bit of context before you post the URL. That will increase the link’s click-through rate and the post will not be mistaken for spam. Your website may already have a lot of interesting content that you can begin posting links to. To keep your profile fresh, post only one link at a time every day or so. This can help give new life to old content and drive new visitors and potential customers to your site.
Your non-promotional content refers to useful information and external links related to your niche that will be of interest to your followers. The key is balance. If you spend most of your time trying to promote your site or affiliate products, you are likely to alienate your followers and will not attract many new ones. On the other hand, if you make the profile useful to your readers it will attract more of them.
When to Update
As with all kinds of social sites, if you do not publish new content regularly, the traffic to your profile, and from there to your site, will slow down. If you are already publishing new content for your site, taking a few extra seconds to promote your content on social network sites is well worth the effort. Similarly, if you are already keeping up to date with all the latest developments in your niche—that is information that others will be interested in as well. So when you come across content that would be of interest to your readers, make sure to post it to your social network profiles.
How to Get Followers
Your social network profile serves the same purpose as your RSS feed and newsletter. It allows people to keep up to date with your site and with industry-related news by becoming followers—also known as subscribers or friends—of your profile. When you make a promotion to your site, a percentage of your followers will click through. Therefore, the more followers you have the more traffic you can expect to receive. For this reason, your followers are your major capital on social network sites.
The first thing you can do to attract followers is to invite your friends to join as your supporters. There is the issue of social proof on social network sites, where a profile with a lot of followers will draw others into it. Basically, if your followers have many followers, the chances are that some of these followers will notice you and will join your network as well, creating a snowball effect.
One way to attract more followers is to actively search for people on the network that have interests similar to what your site offers and invite them to join you. However, I do not recommend this method since it is a time consuming and roundabout approach for increasing your traffic. This brings up an important point. You do not want to spend time marketing your profile when you could be marketing your site directly. The profile should work for you, not the other way around. What you want to do instead is to set up ways to automatically attract followers—for example, by adding prominent buttons on your site inviting visitors to follow your profile. If they are already part of one of the networks you link to, they will be more likely to join you.
Making your profile interesting is an important step in building a large set of followers. Be sure to pick a niche-targeted account name that is relevant to your brand and easy to remember. Your account name often becomes part of your profile’s URL and may show up in searches.
Give your profile a professional design that is consistent with the website you are promoting. Provide background information about yourself and your site, and of course include your site URL in a prominent place. Be sure to make your profile public so that anyone can read it and follow you.
Social Networking Sites
Here is a list of some of the largest international social networking sites.
Facebook – www.facebook.com
Twitter – www.twitter.com
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com
Pinterest – www.pinterest.com
Tumblr – www.tumblr.com
Myspace – www.myspace.com
LiveJournal – www.livejournal.com
DeviantART – www.deviantart.com
While posts can be made directly through the social networks’ interfaces, to streamline things you can take advantage of tools to help you. For example, Twitter Feed* is a free online service that lets you link your RSS feed to both Twitter and Facebook. There are also WordPress plug-ins available for this task.
Note Status Updater – Allows you to publish content to Facebook and Twitter directly from your site.
Network Publisher – Lets you automatically publish posts to 5 out of 30 networks for free. A subscription is required to be able to post to more networks.
Is It Worth your Time?
With any popular social networking site, you can invest a lot of time building a large network of targeted followers and supporters. However, if you are running an online business I do not recommend that you spend too much time there that could be spent making new content or directly promoting your site.
I advise you to try out social networking sites for at least a month, posting a snippet or two daily, to assess if they work for you. Your goal should be to get the most traffic from the least investment of time and effort. Social networking does not have to be interactive. You can just use it as a feed to broadcast information.