Social Media Marketing: Let's get down to business and discuss some facts!

I’m quite interested in getting some feedback or discussing the effective use of social media to drive traffic to a website. I usually hang over in the Program Your Site part of Sitepoint but this is an area of great interest to me.

I’ve got a number of websites in my care that all use Google Analytics for tracking traffic and although I am quite satisfied with their Organic Search results, their referrals from Social Media sites is a bit lack-luster and I’d like to come up with some ideas to improve that.

I have one client who has a “team” who are dedicated to driving site traffic from Social Media sources however I noted that he gets 75% of his traffic from Organic Search and less that .1% from Social Media. I mentioned to him that that “belt of icons” he added to the site is driving traffic away from his site rather than driving traffic to his site… I’m not sure if it sunk in.

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo are all easy to set up pages with. It sounds easy enough to set up your pages and direct them to your site, place a few “like” widgets to count up your fans but does any of this translate to more traffic. I know organic search works when you’re trying to drive traffic but does Social Media Advertising? Does anyone have any success stories that they can share with tangible results?


I get the desire to have traffic come to your site, that’s how marketing has worked throughout time, but it’s an assumption that plagues social.

Social “pages” offer the chance to participate.

Yes, you can turn socials channels into traffic drivers but that doesn’t mean you should or that doing so is optimal. Social channels are an interactive format in themselves and people are already participating on them – thinking of marketing as a funnel shouldn’t your first goal be to work within that context and activate the largest number first and then move down the ladder to more qualified individuals who may want to come over?

People are not coming to Facebook to go to your website so if that’s your sole call to action / opportunity you will fail. Thus when you see reports that social doesn’t work most of the time what you find is that the company was using traditional push approaches with push goals set. You have the chance to talk to your customers, to ask them things, to educate them – that’s a very real benefit to start with.

But the table is flipped in social sharing.

While pages/ handles are important, social sharing [or as you called it the widgets] is a world in its self that can, in many cases, rival or flat out destroy search value. Like with social pages it’s not a matter of just setting a few things up – you have to have something people want to share and then offer it up in a way they can easily get too – stuffing a boring page with those widgets is rarely productive.

If you have the right product [content, items, services are all products] people will share it and those shares are extremely powerful. Few people found instagram, pinterest, fab searching around – they found them from a friend who learned from another friend. This is the great opportunity with social as, unlike search, it does not require intent to be discovered.

By extending your site to bring social in you can increase the viral possibilities while, to the point made to your friend, avoiding the “go here” dynamic. Social should not just be something you do on Twitter: it’s a part of your site and functionally a part of your business.

So where do you start

It’s all about expectations, both yours and the users. If your sites are content focused you may be able to build some integrated tools that get an immediate bump but for most it’s figuring out how to attract attention on the channels first, then provide them with enough value to interact and down the road translate that back to a traffic bump. If you just want eyeballs you can use “social” but not in the format you’re talking about here…

Ted S, thanks for the detailed reply. That is great and certainly informative. Now it’s getting interesting.

Yes, I was looking at it from the POV of driving traffic to the website because that’s traditionally where the majority of the action is and we have methods to quantify the value of the traffic (ie: they got there by searching x or they visited x, y & z pages and left on page zz as opposed to they got to page x and promptly left).

So, if we’re not concerned about driving traffic to the site (and I’m still not sure that’s not our goal), how do we incorporate Social Media and involve the organization in the process? I mean the bottom line is brand promotion regardless of whether it’s Levis Jeans or Mom & Pop’s widgets. What are the building blocks for incorporating Social Media into the marketing strategy and how do you monitor your progress and success?

What a great reply… Thanks for that!


To be clear the goal is always to drive the business, but the assumption that traffic to your website is how you do that is what I’m suggesting you challenge [and again sharing tools are of course going to be traffic drivers]. Thus you have to find meaningful KPIs that deal with business drivers and not just social stats [likes, fans, etc] but they have to make sense given the context.

In order to respond to your follow up I need to know more about the business being promoted… are you a content business? retail? online only? one person? one thousand? how do your customers connect with you today?

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo are all easy to set up pages with. It sounds easy enough to set up your pages and direct them to your site, place a few “like” widgets to count up your fans but does any of this translate to more traffic.

Indeed it simple easy to setup, but in fact, the real task is after you’re done with that setup. What’s the next step to maintain, engage, and get more targeted audience (that in the bottom line is to lead them to the website).

Honestly, I don’t have own experience about success stories with social media. I am focused in organic search, and it’s work enough.
However, many of bloggers or website owners have a succeed with social media. Most of them are move from hope for organic search caused got hit or penalized by Penguin, they are not too impatient to build and wait for their ranking back (even with lot correction, Google isn’t fast enough to give their ranking and traffic back).
And social media and paid advertising is the solution.

Yes, that has been my approach with SEO, drive traffic to the website and then convert impressions to leads or sales depending on the audience. Ted S, has brought a different paradigm to the web marketing table (for me) so I’m interested to learn more about his approach.


Hi Ted,
Sorry for the long time getting a reply to you. I missed the Sitepoint alert this morning.

I understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer and I’m interested not for my business directly but more to be able to advise my clientele. We build websites. Most of our clients are professional organizations and have a relatively narrow focus but we also have some not-for-profits and for-profits that could use some social media attention.

A good example would be a Pro-bono client we have which runs programs after hours for at-risk elementary school kids, providing programs and activities after normal school hours and on holidays. They have a physical location and their online goal is to promote fund raising and fund raising events. They have a Twitter account that at last glance showed action back in February. They have a reasonably up to date FB page with 444 friends. What would we use to determine the success of our small Social Media component. What are the KPI’s that we can glean from this?



This is a great opportunity for social [let’s remove the word media, we’re not buying ads here] and really from what you’ve explained all the more reason not to worry about website traffic.

As you said, the goal here is fund raising and events. With a website that means trying to collect and bring back as many people as possible which is difficult as the day to day value of the site is minimal. Even if you posted a message every day it’s still a manual visit for just that one object.

On the other hand the majority of Canadians [going from your bio] are on social networks already – facebook and then twitter specifically. Thus getting a campaign going there with full value means you don’t have to try and pull people off of another site, remind them to visit, or spend any other time in getting them to you, so you can focus it on what you say resonating with them. And since the audience can reply back you get the network effect [if one person supports it makes others more likely to do so] as well as a true feedback loop [the organization needs to be committed to interacting, not just broadcasting].

Then there’s the insane virality… As you’d expected, non profits or for profit “civic-do-goods” are insanely popular to share as people who become fans themselves really want to spread the word. As a society we advocate our causes and social makes it so easy to show [or guilt] friends into jumping onboard.

Thus doubling down and making social more of a focus than the website makes total sense for social.

As an example, Habitat for Humanity Los Angeles which I volunteer for has an extensive website and a facebook page that’s updated frequently with build shots, event invites, and volunteer profiles. I use the website functionally to sign up for times and beyond that have just about no clue what’s on it. Why would I care? On the other hand their facebook posts appear all over my news feed which I’m looking at 10+ times a day and without saying anything about it that reminds me to sign up [or in the case of a monetary contributor, send a check] plus in one click I can show support or tell my friends to join in. Sure they can cross link to articles / blog posts but getting traffic to those is the exception and since they already have visibility they’re winning on every post.

They’re far from perfect but as a concept example it’s right on…

Share what’s happening so fans feel involved. Create opportunities that motivate people to step up both as it relates to money and beyond it [i.e. volunteers for the next fundraiser] and highlight the heck out of the super contributors so people see the bar being set. Assuming they have the right events & programs to gather interest, people will share, using your setup pages that they now know about, and bringing more people in. Traffic goes up, interest goes up, and with a good mix of content to asks, money goes up… without having to create a massive network yourself.

Metrics should be the same as the website: rsvp’s to events, inquiries about the organization, media requests and of course cash. There’s no reason why you can’t build a tab right there to take money, track the clicks that come directly and of course ask around when people get involved to see how many use or came from social mentions.

That’s my very long winded way of saying: I’d run hard into social for this type of organization. And kudos to you for supporting them too.

There is another social marketing site are available today… Have you tried it?

Pinterest is on the verge, particularly in the UK. However Facebook and Twitter remain to the be most desired social platforms for Internet marketers. Facebook also allows analytics to be included with the service or product page which gives you adequate information on the number of visitors of your posts and the number of shares.

Let’s keep this thread on the original topic please. If anyone would like to start a separate thread about pinterest content or marketing please feel free to do so.

My apologies but i think one social site is remaining and now a days its so useful named Linkedin.As my personal experience its good for get some traffic.In social media you have to attract the audience which have interest in your site.Otherwise social media is used for fun.You must make it like your Business advertiser.

That’s exactly what we are trying to do. I think that nowadays, with the ever-increasing number of online businesses and websites, obtaining results from organic search might end up getting more and more difficult as time goes on. That is, for new businesses mostly. I am not an expert in SEO, but i think social media has the best potential for newly founded companies to advertise their products, mainly because of the viral effect that one single post/video/product/whatever can bring.

Ted S, I would like to know how do you think can a business selling commodity type products can do something that would end up provoking viral attention.

Every Avenue Can be great for getting traffic to your site…If you can get it…

Every aspect about creating a online presence is difficult. There isn’t a magic formula apart from time and hard work.


Investing a whole load of cash so you can force your name/brand onto millions of people at a time…

Everything else is just going to take a lot of time. The naive among us, even me, think once you’ve got a website up and join the social media sites everything will come flooding in and go viral, it really doesn’t work like that.

Create a site that is beneficial to your users and post content that is beneficial too and people will then start to take interest and the word slowly gets out. You can invest 1 million hours in Social Media but if you haven’t got anything of interest to say, nobody will listen or visit your site.

What you need is word of mouth. When someone asks a question on twitter,FB,forums. You need the answer to be a link to your site because it has a valuable amount of information.

I would be interested to hear how quickly some people have generated traffic/interest to their product of site from conception e.g If I created an everlasting battery I doubt I would have to do much advertising and join in social media it would all just come to me.

With the exception of say one-off productions almost everything is commoditized these days thus the winners are the ones who rise above that [there are many tablets but only one iPad]. Do you want to dive into a specific type of product which may be more practical or just heavily competitive products in general? B2C or B2B?

For now, we are doing B2C only, and we wish for it to remain like this for max 5 years. In the long run, we were considering expanding our activities to sell to other businesses differentiated cloud-based products. Actually, we are more in a consolidation stage, trying to improve our services and customer service.