Social media has become an integral part of smart marketing strategies. Most top companies retain at least one social-media expert, and some have a slew of consultants focusing on social strategies.

Companies will increase their digital marketing budgets an average of 17% in 2010, with social media driving much of that increase, according to research by eConsultancy..

In fact, for many companies, social networks have become a larger source of referral traffic than search. But although most companies understand that they need to embrace social media to drive word-of-mouth traffic, their resources focus almost entirely on the social experience that takes place off their own website,- and on the associated metrics.

That means marketers are spending millions of dollars, often on paid-search campaigns, to bring visitors to their websites, but their social strategy helps send those visitors away.

For example, a visitor arrives at a top clothing retailer's website after clicking a specific search term, clicks a link to "Join our community on Facebook," and is redirected to Facebook.com. That's a potential customer who may never return.

Many businesses also maintain a Twitter account or seed videos into YouTube. Marketers typically have in-house teams, outside experts, and a host of agencies working on their off-site social marketing, monitoring, and community interaction, all of which are extremely important.

But the key questions businesses should ask are the following: What am I doing to optimize my own site to drive social participation and socially referred traffic? and How do I measure success?

On-Site: The Other Half of Social Marketing

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Liza Hausman is vice-president of marketing at Gigya (www.gigya.com), a provider of an SaaS-based social optimization platform for online business, connecting websites to social networks.