Use Social Media to Drive TrafficI saw a commercial during a television show the other day and it dawned on me that more and more companies are promoting their social networks than they do their own websites. We are starting to see the standard Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest icons in places where the typical website URL used to be. The audio has changed as well. Most companies simply splashed their URL on the screen and now much of the audio includes sentences like “Stay Connected” or “Join The Conversation” or the like.

Promoting social networking sites isn’t necessarily a new concept for these companies, many have focused on building their audience by promoting their sites at their physical location and on their website. Now it appears however that they are placing more reliance on promoting their social networking sites in attempts to further build their audience, build their brand and ultimately drive more traffic to their websites in that manner.

To me, it makes sense.

Advertising and offering promotions to drive people to social networking sites will lead more people to these sites – people who may not be aware of the brand or products provided by the company. What they experience once they get there can be extremely valuable to the brand. Not only does the consumer have the ability to participate in whatever promotion drove them to the site, they also have the ability to see first hand what others are saying about the company, brand or product – a form of word-of-mouth advertising.

It goes like this:

When someone “Likes”, “Follows”, “Connects” or “Pins” a particular brand, they in essence are recommending that brand’s product to their friends and family. Whether they realize it or not, this step actually helps to make their friends more likely to, at a minimum like that particular brand if not out and out choose it over a competitor’s. Why? Because over 90% of consumers trust recommendations of friends and families over any form of advertising out there today.

Building an audience on the social networks now gives the company a much more efficient way to promote their products and services on their website because people are constantly looking in and out of them and seeing the conversation that is taking place rather than going directly to the website to see if there is anything new. With this kind of activity, businesses have the ability to insert themselves into the conversations that are taking place, appearing in the feeds for a particular site (when others are talking about them) can lead to that brand becoming more and more trusted, and basically they are always there to be connected to their followers.

Now is really where the heavy lifting comes – what do these companies need to do in order to stay viable and relevant to the conversation? What do they need to do in order to remind their followers of why they came and liked them in the first place.

This is where a well thought out strategy of engagement comes in. The messages, wall posts, tweets, profile updates and like should prompt their users to stay loyal to their brand, continue to follow and engage in the conversation, continue to endorse them to their friends and families and to ultimately become evangelists for their products and services – the key to social media marketing.

Whether created by a dedicated staff in house or with the help of a dedicated Social Media Marketing Agency, it is critical to develop a messaging strategy that will allow you stay connected with your fans, continue to stay relevant, continue to fulfill their needs of why they followed you in the first lace and to continue the momentum of building your audience.