For the past few months, every Wednesday we’ve been talking about how to drive more traffic to your site.  Having just completed a number of weeks on SEO, today, we’re gonna talk about social media.

First off, let’s define exactly what social media is.  I think there’s a general perception that social media is pretty much Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and the like.  However, that’s just a narrow section of social media.  Sites like Facebook are a subset of social media called social networking.  You see, social media encompasses those social networking sites but it also includes file sharing sites, like Youtube and Picassa.  But that’s not all, social media includes a all of the sites, and phone apps and iPad apps that help people to connect.  Skype, for instance, falls under the umbrella of social media.  And don’t forget about Google+.  They came onto the scene last year with their stripped-down, cleaned up version of Facebook where people can neatly organize their friends and colleagues into circles, combined with an easy-to-use video conferencing tool like Skype.

So the question is, how can you leverage social media to help drive traffic to your site?

Here’s a great way.  My old college roommate is brilliant.  Tim can pick up anything and become an expert in no time.  He’s an engineer by trade, but he’s also a programmers, web developer, and social media wizard, not to mention he kicks my butt every time we go mountain biking.  Anyway, we meet for dinner every month and last time we met he told me about what he’s doing in his spare time, when he’s not working as a project manager.  He’s helping one of his friends boost their sales for their little coffee shop in Fort Collins.  He’s helped them to tie their social media into their business model in a way that has actually impacted their bottom line.  The concept is pretty simple.  Post to Facebook that the next 10 people to check in on Facebook at the coffee shop will get a free cup of coffee.  Not only do people immediately come in the door, based on the offer, they essentially tell all of their friends, when they check in, that they’re enjoying a cup of coffee at their favorite coffee shop.  Think about that for a minute.  Ten people check in.  They each have 200 friends.   That’s 2000 people that just heard about their coffee shop, for the cost of 10 cups of coffee.  How much does a pot of coffee cost?  $1?  $2?  Now that’s a great way to utilize social media.

How do we use social media?  We like to automate things whenever possible so we have tied our blog to our Twitter page.  Every time we one of our blog posts goes live, the title is automatically tweeted.  This alerts our 16,000 followers that there’s some great new stuff for them to read.  You can see a noticeable spike in traffic when a tweet or a Facebook post alert people that something new has been added.

It’s not difficult to do.  In fact, more small businesses handle all of their social media efforts in-house.  Just like with any marketing effort, try to keep it consistent.  A slow steady pace is always better than a flurry of activity that peters out to nothing.  Until next week…

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