Traffic from social media and social networks to your website is a metric that I think is good to follow. It's also a good way to show your boss the worth of social marketing. The best way to drive more traffic is to use social media platforms regularly and experiment, find out what works and what doesn't, and what the users of the platform are like and how they behave. This post will give you an introduction on how to create better content for social media, and how to use social networking to get traffic to that content.
Start with Better Content
I find the simplest way to publish content and distribute it is with a business blog. If you don't have one, stop reading this and start one right now! It's 2011 already. This may seem obvious, but fill that content with cool pictures and videos. This makes your content look better, and makes it more interesting when pushed out into social media. Again this may seem obvious, but make it interesting content. Keep in the back of your head that lots of people on social media are looking to kill time with short interesting content (like a picture or short video), news, or articles on niche topics (like how to get more social media traffic). Also come up with a good, specific title. The title is the only thing most people are going to see about your content in social media.
Know Your Platforms
This shows you the traffic the top social media sites got last year (2010). Everyone knows to post to Facebook and Twitter, but are you also posting on Stumbleupon, Reddit, Linkedin, and YouTube? A wider net means more traffic! (You can post to Digg and Myspace if you really want to too). Each of these platforms are different, with different users, norms, and interfaces. Let's go through some of the more popular platforms and go over some tips for creating more popular content on each for effective social media strategies.
Facebook ranks content by chronology and popularity. Users can sort their feed strictly by "most recent" or "top news", which combines time factors and the number of interactions. A post that has many likes and comments stays higher in feeds. The longer one of you links stays in feeds, the more chances of getting a click through. So, if you want comments, creating engaging content. Perhaps ask people's opinion when you share a link, like encouraging people to share their opinion on the matter.
Tweets can be found in three ways. It can appear in your followers' feeds, it can be found through search, or your followers can retweet it to their followers. Play on all three levels and you'll increase your chances of getting more traffic. Write a tweet that will make people want to click on your link. Be specific about what the link is, and make it sound worth clicking through. To be seen by your followers, time your tweets well. Take some measurements of when you get the highest CTR (time of day and day of week). You may find your followers are not very active on weekends, or after a certain time. To get retweeted, make your content worth sharing. To have your content found in search, make sure to include good keywords in your tweet and include a hashtag if possible.
It may be the best for B2B marketing. Your audience is professionals, and generally not people looking to waste time or wanting to know what's up with Justin Beiber or Charlie Sheen. Create a company page and sync it up with your blog. (I'd recommend not syncing your Twitter to Linkedin because you will send out too many updates.) The best way to reach niche audiences in Linkedin is through groups. Find ones relevant to your business, join them, and post your content there.
Probably the easiest to use, and a great source of traffic, but Stumbleupon is a lot like channel surfing. People on Stumbleupon will be suggested a page to view based on their interests and previous stumbling patterns. If they don't want to read more or are bored, they "stumble" to the next page. This is why I told you earlier that your content should have lots of pretty pictures and videos. Users can also vote if they like or dislike a site, so the more likes you get, the more frequently your site will appear.
Reddit's a little confusing at first. The interface is extremely simple (which for some reason always makes things more complicated). You submit a link, and people can up or down vote it. When people log into reddit, they see the highest voted links, which consequently get the most traffic. If you use reddit, you know the top rated links often are about libertarians, atheism, or a funny/stupid picture. It's not the best place to post a business article. Reddit also limits how often you can post, so don't waste a post on something that won't get lots of up votes. There are subreddits, which cater to niche audiences. They don't get nearly as many views as the main reddit, but will be more likely to get traffic from your target audiences. This is where I post most links.
The secret to all good social media marketing is good measurements, metrics, and analysis. Hook up Google analytics to your site and monitor your incoming web traffic. See what posts got more traffic, and which were duds. Monitor things like where the traffic is coming from, when you post, and what the content is that was posted. Keep making adjustments based on your data and you'll see your website traffic rise.