The popularity of social networking websites is fast spreading like wildfire across the Internet. These websites allow their members to live in a carefree virtual world where they can interact with other members without any obligations. Apart from finding friends, these sites are now used as Internet marketing tools - yes, social networking websites can help increase website traffic by sending a massive amount of traffic to a website thereby improving its search engine rankings.
These websites are powered by the latest sophisticated technologies like AJAX, that allow members - apart from interacting with other members - to customize page backgrounds, work with unique templates, post music/videos, share pictures, store documents and generally have a ball of a virtual time.
There are two kinds of social networking websites - social networking sites and social bookmarking sites. Social networking websites allow you to network with and make friends with their members - most of the most famous social sites that feature a tremendous database of users are MySpace, Orkut, Bebo, Facebook, Hi5 and Friendster. Serious Internet marketers become members of these websites and then spread their links around, thereby generating volume traffic on their own website.
On the other hand, social bookmarking websites allow their members to save their favorite links on their pages, which, of course, are shared with other members. Famous social bookmarking sites include delicious, Mixx and Digg.
There are some social networking sites that bring together common interest groups, but even their focus is on making new friends. These "friendship" sites feature a tremendous number of members and are always busy, with members hanging all the time. Some social sites such as Facebook and MySpace allow their users to even hoist advertisements and market their products, so long they don't spam. So, if you have a good enough website, and you want to generate solid traffic on it, then you can always sign up with a social site and say nice things about your website there to divert the traffic.
Let's now talk about social bookmarking sites - these allow you to easily save, organize and maintain your favorite bookmarks along with sharing them with your friends and other members of the site. On these sites, you can save and store any URL or webpage that you find interesting and mark it for public viewing. You can even tag your bookmarks if you like. Some of these social bookmarking sites link to your URL and this increases the backlinks to your websites, thereby increasing its search engine results ranking. It is well known that websites such as Stumbleupon, Digg and Delicious are famous for directing massive traffic to websites. If your website ever gets on the front page of these social bookmarking websites, then you must be ready to handle a mindboggling inflow of traffic.
Search engine algorithms simply love social sites because they get clued on to links that feature rich content. So, if you have your website's link on these social sites, it will be picked up and indexed by the search engines pretty quickly.
If you use Wordpress as a content management system, then remember to incorporate plugins like Socialmarker, Socializer and Addthis. These plugins enable your site's visitors to bookmark your website with just one click, and as we have discussed, getting bookmarked by many users goes on to improve the search engine rankings. There are other plugins such as Onlywire that can automatically spread your post to about 20 different bookmarking sites as soon as it is published!
Sites like Youtube and Flickr allow their members to post videos and pictures, and they are frequented by millions of users daily. These websites too can be used effectively for Internet marketing. It's simple - just think creatively and make a video using a hand-held cam or shoot some pictures with your digital cam, and you're rolling! Metacafe, a video-sharing site, even shares their revenue with their members!
Well, social networking sites are here to stay for a long time. Might as well use them to increase traffic before they begin losing out to another Internet innovation.