It's important to realize that social media can be just as useful as Google in directing traffic to websites. While fans for a page don't necessarily equate to customers, Facebook's utility as content distribution network makes the platform as useful as search ads on Google or video ads on YouTube. Investing in both forms of paid advertising can produce good returns for a business.
One of the key components of SMM is social media optimization (SMO). Like search engine optimization (SEO), SMO is a strategy for drawing new and unique visitors to a website. SMO can be done two ways: adding social media links to content, such as RSS feeds and sharing buttons -- or promoting activity through social media by updating statuses or tweets, or blog posts.
If you want to uncover more merchants who partner directly with affiliates, just keep your eyes open. When you see affiliate links, do a quick search to see if the related merchant runs their own program. (We came up with the list above by reviewing a few of the bigger affiliate marketing blogs and investigating the most prominent affiliate links on those sites.)
The first thing that you want to do is to perform an affiliate program competitive analysis to research and find out what your direct competitors are offering. This is important as affiliates will compare you against others in your industry and may opt to promote someone else if their payouts are higher. You do want your competitive payouts to stand out.
One of the biggest mistakes that brands and companies make on social media is pushing users away from the site they’re currently on (i.e. Facebook) to get them to a website. If you’re using social media to drive website traffic, you need to pay for it. Otherwise, leveraging existing platforms such as Medium.com or LinkedIn to blog from your profile, or even Facebook Notes, can drive greater organic reach (for free) than by linking to your latest blog post on your business page. My advice is to tap into the organic reach that a more traditional platform gives you to create free brand awareness.