The year 2006 saw the emergence of social media. If you are engaged in operating a website, you must realign your site to exploit the popular social media sites for increased traffic.
You should also introduce social media components to your site because web users are experiencing these new form of interactions in more and more sites and they may have an expectation of the same from your site also.
If you want to attract repeat visitors and want them to stay longer, your focus this year should be on the social aspects of your site.
Social media use technologies like RSS, blogging, podcasting, tagging, etc. and offer social networking (MySpace, Facebook), social video and picture sharing (YouTube, Flickr), and community-based content ranking (Digg, MiniClip) features.
The central theme of these sites is user generated contents used for sharing among the end-users. The social aspects of these sites are to allow users to setup social communities, invite friends and share common interests.
You don't have to change your site completely within a month or so to take advantages of these new technologies. Introduce small changes incrementally through out the year and you will be on your way to meet these new challenges.
The first step is to declare who you are to the online community. People should be able to relate to you. Unless they know more about you, you will be just an unknown identity and most people don't like to deal with unknowns. Create an About Us page and list your achievements and skills.
Create a MySpace page and link your bio in the About Us page to the MySpace page. Also provide a link back from the MySpace page to your website. Spend an hour every week to develop your online social network in MySpace. Invite a few of these new friends to write blog articles at your site about your products or services.
Install a free blog software and start publishing at least one article in your blog. Provide an easy bookmarking feature to social bookmarking sites like delicious. This is done by providing an action button for each article in your site. The action button takes users to the submission page of the bookmarking site.
Also, provide an action button for direct posting of blog articles to digg. Digg is a popular news ranking site. A well dugg article will bring thousands of visitors to your site.
Provide a forum at your site for users to discuss your products and services. Don't delete negative comments because they provide insights into the improvements needed to serve your visitors better. However, censor hate speeches and meaningless bantering. Register your forum at BoardTracker. BoardTracker is a forum search engine.
If you are offering products, allow users to review and rate your products. This will help you in inventory management because you may want to discontinue low rated products.
Provide RSS feeds for your new products, blogs, forum postings, etc. An RSS feed provides teasers of your contents. Users will use RSS readers to scan your teasers and visit your site for more information if the teasers draw their attentions.
Publish all your feeds at feedburner. Feedburner provides media distribution and audience engagement services for RSS feeds. They also provide an advertising network for your feeds. If you have quality contents, you will be able to monetize your contents using their services.
Create short how-to or new product videos and post these videos in social video sharing sites like YouTube, Google video. Provide a few start and end frames in these videos to introduce your site with your site url. Post these videos using catchy titles, teasing descriptions, and appropriate tags to make them discoverable.
Provide embedded links to your posted videos in your site. This will save your bandwidth and storage space because the videos reside in the video sharing sites.
Besides videos, use social photo sharing sites like Flickr to share pictures related to contents in your site. Use the same title, description and tag techniques discussed earlier for social video sites.
Provide a Send to Friend feature for all products and services you offer. This feature is a link that sends the article, product description, etc. to a recipient via e-mail.
For starter, Yahoo provides a service called Action Buttons (search for Yahoo Action Buttons) that add links to your website for users to share, save, and blog about your website. The Yahoo action buttons use delicious for social bookmarking, and Yahoo blog site for blogging. It also has a print feature.
The social media is not a fad. It is here to stay and bring in profound changes to web surfers' experiences. It is the right time for implementing features that will make your site social media friendly. Also, using marketing techniques that utilize popular social media sites, you will be able to bring traffic to your site.