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Is social media marketing the best internet marketing strategy?

Social media marketing is the new buzzword online, and social media sites are becoming ever more popular. As social media sites can differ greatly in their objectives, it can be hard to define what they are, but they can include social bookmarking sites, social news sites, social networking sites and any site where content can be referenced via a link to the original site. A few popular social media sites include Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, del.icio.us, Facebook and YouTube.

Your aim in social media marketing is to encourage people to talk about your site. Using social media, your visitors can bookmark or tag sections of your site that they find interesting, and share this bookmark with their online community. Other sites may pick up that bookmark and link to your site themselves if they also find your content valuable.

How can I use social media marketing?

Social media marketing has two aspects. The first is adapting your site to make it easy for visitors to reference your content on social media sites. This is known as social media optimization. This can be as simple as adding new content frequently, perhaps by running a blog, and including icons that enable your readers to social bookmark your content on one of the popular sites. Having an RSS feed is another way to make your content social media friendly as your readers will know when you have new content that they can bookmark.

The second aspect, which is actually known as social media marketing, is more active, and involves actions that you take ‘off site’ to promote your website socially. This can include producing compelling content and pushing it through social media sites yourself. You might write a killer article and try to get it on the home page of Digg, or produce a video and post it on YouTube. There is some controversy on whether book marking your own web pages is effective and ethical, but currently it is a internet marketing strategy.

How can Social Media Marketing benefit your site?

Although social media marketing will not make you a profit directly, the indirect benefits for your site can be enormous. A few of the benefits are discussed below:

1. Increased traffic to your site

Social media marketing can significantly increase the traffic to your site. This traffic consists of both primary and secondary traffic. Primary traffic comes directly from the social media site where your content is tagged to read your article or watch your video. Secondary traffic comes from a third party website that has linked to your site after seeing it tagged on a social media site.

Although a larger portion of your traffic will be primary, these visitors have a high bounce rate, as they may just look at the content that was references and then leave. Secondary traffic tends to be more valuable and more likely to generate customers, because these visitors have seen your site recommended by a third party site and have taken an active interest in you.

2. Increased back links to your site

Increasing the number of links pointing at your site leads to a higher web ranking, and consequently more traffic. Social media marketing is a very effective way of attracting links to your site. As well as a link from the social media site itself, which is not necessarily valuable depending whether the site uses search engine friendly links, other sites may reference your content and link to you based on the social media tag.

You may find it hard to believe that web publishers will link to your site based on a tag on a social media site, but many will see the fact that your content is tagged on a site like Digg as a sign that your site is worth checking out and referencing. You are actually using the trust that the social media site has built up with its readers to promote your own website.

One of the benefits of getting links through social media marketing is that they are natural links, with no obvious pattern, which will keep the search engines happy. The links will be one way, which makes them more valuable. However, it can be a good idea to thank a website for linking to you by linking to them in return. A reciprocal link may have less value with the search engines but the goodwill you build up with the other site may mean that they social bookmark, or promote you at some point in the future.

3. You get a high return for a small investment

Social media marketing is very cheap compared with paid advertising and other forms of online marketing, and the rewards can be much greater. Generally the only investment you need to make in social media marketing is your time, and in return you will get back links, brand exposure and traffic that would be impossible to generate with paid advertising.

The beauty of social media marketing is that it can form just a part of your overall marketing campaign, and can be used alongside other marketing strategies.

4. Increased brand awareness

Having your site tagged or referenced on a popular social media sites can increase exposure to your brand, and get your name known in the online world. If your name is seen regularly on the home page of a social book marking site, you will become known as an expert in your field, and your site will gain in credibility and authority.

Social media optimization and marketing are part of the Web 2.0 craze that is currently changing the way the internet works. Static content and traditional forms of search engine optimization are no longer sufficient to get your website noticed. If you don’t regularly create new and compelling content that is causing a stir on the social media sites, your website will struggle to compete in the online world.

If you need any assistance with your internet marketing strategy then contact us so that we can assist you.