Reflecting what we’re seeing across many online industries, Benny Evangelista at the Chronicle wrote in yesterdays SF Chronicle about how Facebook and other Social Networks are sending more traffic to web portals than do the search engines. And it’s not just the portals. Sites from USAToday.com to etsy.com get the majority of their referral traffic from Social Networks. This is why one of our company mantras is “Social is the next Search.”
What we’re seeing now is a bifurcation of social strategy into off-site activities (Facebook Page, conversation marketing, etc) and on-site activites (driving social participation and sharing from their own sites). The emergence of social APIs for third party websites, from Facebook Connect to Sign in with Twitter, are the enabling factors for this two-pronged marketing approach. Known for their cutting edge social ad campaigns, Intuit this year integrated Gigya’s social platform into their TurboxTax product, enabling users to review the product using an existing social network identity – e.g.Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo - then driving prospective user to turbotax.com’s “Friendalyzer” where they can pull up review that friends, or people in their network, have written about the product.
One key benefit of the on-site social efforts is the ability to drive incremental traffic cost-effectively by leveraging existing traffic – basically getting more of your existing users to establish a relationship with your site using an existing social identity, and then making it seamless and quick for them to share content, opinions, with friends, which in turn drives more traffic.
We’re seeing more and more social experts chiming in with a similar POV. From Brian Solis’ “SMO is the new SEO“ to the NYT writing about how “The links shared on those social networks are also sending a growing amount of traffic to sites across the Web, potentially weakening Google’s position as the prime navigation tool on the Internet.”