Many people have heard of search engine optimization or "SEO". SEO is a set of techniques to increase traffic to a website through search engine referrals.
There is also a set of techniques called social media optimization or "SMO", which involves driving traffic to a site through online viral marketing methods.
For example, you can systematically create content that is so interesting to visitors that they begin to share it with their friends on different "Web 2.0" social networks. If that content reaches a critical mass on the social network by "going viral", your site will get an avalanche of traffic.
One benefit of social media traffic is that it also tends to attract inbound links to your website. Inbound links to a website increase its search engine rankings. So in addition to sending massive amounts of direct traffic, SMO actually overlaps with SEO. An SEO campaign is not complete if it doesn't incorporate SMO.
Here are the results of two somewhat controlled traffic experiments. Both of the traffic charts below show spikes that are each the result of a single, carefully planned viral social media post.
The traffic spike below came from adding one carefully-planned page to a site that was initially at about 80 to 100 visitors per day:
In the image below from a different site, the initial traffic was okay, but after a single page of viral content was added, the long term traffic was improved.
In both examples above, the traffic increases were a result of a single page added to the site. Visitors liked the content so much that they shared it on "Web 2.0" social media networks where it reached critical mass. There were no other SEO techniques used.
A social media (SMO) campaign is not limited to just one post. The examples above were limited to just one viral post in order to test results of a technique.
More on social media optimization coming soon.