Social Traffic, Social Marketing, Social Bookmarking, Video Sharing...to many people it's a thorny subject...And rightly so because the entire social "arena" does tend to suffer somewhat from "smoke and mirrors" syndrome!
With a bit of luck I can bring a bit of much wanted light to the topic.
So, what is social traffic / marketing?
Essentially it�s getting traffic from using "social techniques"! Sometimes called "Social Traffic" as well.
To answer the question fully, we need to look back at a small bit of history. So, let's descend in to the mists of time, back to the era of the dotcom boom and then crushing bust!
We may all look at Web1.0 through rose tinted glasses these days, but it was a very unexciting place! The www was a one-way street back then. As a website proprietor, you could tell people things, give them information...But there was no socialisation, no interaction, no "social thing" happening!
And, in my view that is where Web1.0 broke and the reason so many "dotcom" companies went bust. They did a terrific job in creating the buzz surrounding the dotcom boom but, when it came to actual delivery time - there was not much to deliver in terms of sales or benefits for the user.
In essence, the technology and know-how hadn't quite arrived. Add to that a complete lack of in depth market investigation in to what people wanted from the world wide web, and with that old 20/20 vision, it's easy to see why it all went so wrong!
So, the moneymen and technicians delivered a combination of what they believed people wanted and poor technical wizardry.
However, those new technologies required for Web2.0 were starting to emerge. Sadly not quite in time to save the dotcom companies at the time though!
Many of the finest technicians joined the dotcom bandwagon, I remember the investmant banks being totally flumoxed by the brain drain to the dot coms! But, when the dotcoms went bust, these technicians were left "high and dry". Highly skilled and motivated by how far they could push the technology (rather than make loads of money), something very interesting started to transpire.
Many very small highly technical companies sprang up and started to deliver the truly interactive technology that we now rely on for Web2.0 and social traffic.
It started with Blogging and then video sharing, social networking and more recently social bookmarking - what we now know as the social traffic fabric.
So, why is this so crucial now?
The bottom line is thatl any web business must have traffic to continue. Think about it, more traffic = more sales = more profits! It's what I believe is called a "no brainer"!
Indeed, for any organization looking to maximise sales over the Internet, having a social traffic / social marketing strategy has grown to be more and more important.
Well, have you checked on your Adwords expenses recently? Contrary to claims that PPC costs are falling, the costs for competitive keywords that return genuine sales are on the rise. PPC costs have rocketed over the last two years or so.
And, whilst fundamental SEO is relatively easy, a commitment to SEO as your sole traffic source becomes more and more marginal the deeper into the rabbit warren you go.
That leaves social marketing and social traffic generation as the only chief viable alternative.
When the phrase "social traffic" is mentioned, it conjures up a whole plethora of images.
YouTube, Wikipedia, My Space, Technorati, Blogger, Digg, Squidoo and of course recent rising star "microblogger" Twitter.
It's true, these are all "Social" properties (as they are called).
But what exactly is "social marketing" and how does it work?
Well there are a number of different "branches".
Firstly there is blogging. With great programs like Blogger and Wordpress it's now simple to to publish a blog in very little time.
What is a Blog? Basically it's an online journal. Nothing new, people have been writing journals for years and a Blog is an online journal. It's the merger of the words "Web"and "Log" = Blog!
It's a place where you (and anyone else for that matter) can air your views and sell your products. Value is built by the interactivity of the platform. Your readers can add views and comment that help build value, similar to the comments on properties such as Squidoo, My Space and Hubpages.
Secondly there is the social networking aspect of social traffic. This tends to split into two categories, truly social, like Facebook and Friends Reunited and business oriented sites such as Hubpages and Squidoo.
Twitter now sits somewhere sandwiched between.
From the business view these sites are significant because Google treats them as "authority" sites and gives them peak weighting as far as organic search engine results are concerned.
What I really like about these sites is that they also offer you the ability to tag your articles for a wider marketing effect (as opposed to the strict use of keywords required for PPC).
Social bookmarking is the glue that holds all this in sync. A social bookmarking site is simply a way of creating lists of favourites. You then intermingle with other users with related interests and permit them have access to your bookmarked catalog of sites.
If your "social" friends like the sites you bookmark, they pass them on to their other friends and so on and a momentum builds. That's when and how your social traffic starts to really come through.
Now, it does take an investment of time and effort to set up all of your social marketing accounts. There is NO way around this - sorry if you wanted a quick fix!
And, you do need to go wide with your social bookmarking. It's no good setting yourself up with just one account at one property. You do need to have an account at as many social sites as you can!
Sorry, yes you do have to do some work! But hey, it's not exactly hard is it? Beats sweating on a production line or in a City office!
The final "strand" of social traffic generation is the video sharing sites. YouTube is undoubtedly the most famous, but there are many others like Vimeo and also Google, Yahoo now have video sharing properties.
Video has become more and more crucial as a selling tool online. You simply have to use video in your online sales effort if you crave success today. I heard it suggested that a sales page with video is 85% more likely to end up in a sale. Now that is a statistic that it is well worth stacking in your favour!
So, to generate a flood of social traffic you need to use the social networking sites to be the source of your content. Then link them to a related article on your blog or other social property...Then socially bookmark both links as well as including video content.
You do this for a highly relevant keyword, then wash rinse and repeat for an additional closely related keyword.
Again, I must to stress that you cannot just have one keyword and expect success. Yes, you can get on to page one of Google for any certain keyword.
However, to generate a real flood of free social traffic you have to put forward a series of pages on associated keywords as well.
That is how social marketing works.
One final thing, remember you have to respect the duplicate content rules. I know you may be tempted to moan about the these rules as I did when I first started the social traffic generation "thing"!
However, it is because authority sites like Hubpages maintain these strict rules that Google treat them as such...Authority sites. In turn, we, as users, get the benefit in terms of great, high profile listings (quickly)!
So, spend sometime configuring your social marketing and traffic infrastructure and you will get massive long-term, quality traffic to your pages and web properties. And, it's an overnight near instant flow of traffic - instant social traffic!