12 steps to explode your traffic using online social media
Last year saw the arrival of online social media. If you operate a website or blog, you would be well advised to realign your site to exploit the popular social media sites for increased traffic.
You should also introduce social media components to your site because web users are experiencing these new forms of interaction on more and more sites and they will have an expectation of the same from your site too.
If you want to attract repeat visitors and want them to stay longer, your focus for the next few months should be on the social aspects of your site.
Social media uses technologies like RSS, blogging, podcasting, tagging, etc. and offers social networking (MySpace, Facebook), social video and picture sharing (YouTube, Flickr), and community-based content ranking (Digg, MiniClip) features.
The central theme of these sites is user generated content used for sharing amongst other users. The social aspects of these sites allow users to setup social communities, invite friends and share common interests.
You don't have to change your site immediately to take advantage of these new technologies. Introduce small changes incrementally and you will be well on your way to measure up to your visitors' new expectations.
Step 1. Declare who you are to the online community. People should be able to relate to you. Unless they know more about you, you will be just an unknown identity and most people don't like to deal with people they don't know. Create an About Me page to list your achievements, skills and aspirations.
Step 2. Create a MySpace page and link your biography in the Profile of your MySpace page. Also provide a link back from the MySpace page to your website. Spend an hour every week to develop your online social network in MySpace. Invite a few of your new friends to write blog articles at your site about your products or services.
Step 3. Install a free blog and start publishing at least one article in your blog every week. Provide an easy bookmarking feature to social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us. This is done by providing an action button for each article in your site. The action button takes users to the submission page of the bookmarking site.
Step 4. Provide an action button for direct posting of blog articles to Digg. Digg is a popular news ranking site. A well dugg article will bring thousands of visitors to you.
Step 5. Provide a forum at your site for users to discuss your products and services. Don't delete negative comments because they provide insights into the improvements needed to serve your visitors better. However, censor hate speeches and meaningless bantering. Register your forum at BoardTracker. BoardTracker is a forum search engine.
Step 6. If you are offering products, allow users to review and rate your products. This will help you in inventory management because you may want to discontinue low rated products.
Step 7. Provide RSS feeds for your new products, blogs, forum postings, etc. An RSS feed provides teasers of your content. Users will use RSS readers to scan your teasers and visit your site for more information if the teasers interest them.
Step 8. Publish all your feeds at Feedburner. Feedburner provides media distribution and audience engagement services for RSS feeds. They also provide an advertising network for your feeds. If you have quality content, you will be able to monetize your content using their services.
Step 9. Create short how-to or new product videos and post these videos in social video sharing sites like YouTube and Google video. Provide a few start and end frames in these videos to introduce your site with your site URL. Post these videos using catchy titles, teaser descriptions, and appropriate tags to make them easy to discover.
Step 10. Provide embedded links to your remotely hosted videos on your site. This will save your bandwidth and storage space because the videos reside on the video sharing sites rather than on your own site's server.
Step 11. As well as videos, use social photo sharing sites like Flickr and SmugMug to share pictures related to content on your site. Use the same title, description and tag techniques discussed earlier for social video sites.
Step 12. Provide a "Send to Friend" feature for all the products and services you offer. This feature is a link that sends the article, product description, etc. to a recipient via e-mail.
Social media is not a fad. It is here to stay and brings a profound change to web surfers' experiences. Now is the right time to implement features that will make your site Social-Media-Friendly. Also, using marketing techniques that utilise popular social media sites, you will see a massive increase in traffic to your site.
By Dave Foster, owner of the "Solo Profits" blog and podcast