Hi, would you drive visitors to your Google+ (or Facebook) Page instead of your website? Why?
Todd Magee's profile photoJonathan Payne's profile photoJD Ebberly's profile photoAnna OBrien's profile photo
It's simply a cost / benefit question.  Free traffic?  Sure!  Paid traffic?  It depends.
I'm not sure I would say "instead." I would use them to work together. Websites may not have the capabilities to allow visitors to interact with you. There are plug-ins that do allow social interactions for websites. I've found those to be quite useful.

Of course, there are SEO implications to consider for your website and for Google+. I guess it depends on how you set your website up.
I believe it is according to what type of business you have. If you are selling a product(s), I would go straight to the website. However, if you are providing a service, Facebook or G+ may be the answer. Reviews are so powerful when running a service type business. So if your Facebook or G+ really humanizes your company and you have a loyal following I would send them there. 
In general, I'd say you should always try to drive visitors to your website. If you use Google+ or Facebook to promote your website (as most people do), then it makes sense, at times, to drive traffic to these outlets. But there are many answers to this question. The question I have is where are you driving them from?
In a lot of cases, our target audience is already on social media so we go there and hopefully use it to establish our reputation, a relationship, and eventually a pull to the website and generate leads. That's the goal, anyway. :-)
Thank you for your feedback. Latest Instagram's change of policy made me wonder about building an audience on social network. The key is to provide great and useful content to the users and engage with them. I see brands push people to follow them on social networks. But eventually all their fans or followers are social network's users not brand's customers. Not sure if it makes sense.

Social networks need brands to buy ads. They promise them to distribute their ads to a lot of people. To have a lot of people they need a lot of great content. So, when you deliver great content through social networks to your fan base, you are actually helping social network to keep their users glued to them so they can distribute/sell more ads.

By the way, selling services and build reputation is a good point to invest time and money in social networks, I agree with that.
Generally, it's part of inbound marketing strategy and a step of the customer, or sales, funnel. So, the brands that you've mentioned, +Marco Petrosillo, the brands that only have followers, need to push them down that funnel to convert them into customers.
I've always thought that you want your website to be the hub of information while using social media to drive people to your site. You want to control your content, as we've seen, social media platforms can be fickle and unpredictable.
It depends what your advertising goal is, like Haley said.
If these visitors aren't connected to you yet by social media, or if you don't know,I think you should definitely send them through FB and G+ first, where it's much easier to get them to Like your brand (already logged in to FB, know how it works, etc...) rather than going to your site and maybe not thinking of connecting to you because each site is built differently. Once they connect to you, you can provide them with a "welcome kit" and strengthen your relationship with each potential customer.
A lot of these answers assume Facebook/ google+ won't develop a robust commerce solution. I don't think we're far. That said, and excuse my digression, Facebook is pulling an AOL by walling their gardens. I think that an evolved social brand experience doesn't exist yet. Until that gets resolved I would drive users to a social page (google+, facebook, etc) for the latest information and the website for any type of conversion. Neither fulfills the other's needs well enough to justify a single brand destination.
I think this is assuming that everyone has a Facebook/G+ account. Say you're paying $15 per click, are you going to drive them to a social media site where they might not have an account or they have to go through the steps to log in? I think by pushing people to these social media sites you're increasing barriers to entry or conversion (more distractions, limited content, less control of content, etc). I believe that social media platforms should be a part of making up your brand, but not defining it.

Ultimately the goal is to convert potential clients/customers. It might be selling a product or service, gathering contact information, or delivering content. If this stuff happens on your site - if it's the end destination, shouldn't you be sending people there right off the bat instead of sending them through a social media site? 
Your website (and email list) is always -- always -- a priority.  You don't own Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or any other social network.  While they are amazing tools, you have, relatively speaking, very little control over your social channels.

If Facebook or Google wants to make changes, they can and will -- maybe those changes are good, but maybe they're bad and you lose a segment of your audience.  It's happened plenty of times in the past.

If your website is your main hub and your email list is your primary connection between you and your target market, there's essentially no one that can take that away from you. 

Your social channels should be an extension of your website/blog and brand, not the other way around.
Content is definitely king, especially content on your blog and guest articles you post on other blogs.
+Jonathan Payne ( and everyone else). I think we are a bunch of 30+ years olds answering this question from our viewpoint. I don't think we can predict how the space will evolve and any answer we give has an expiration date. Sure social sites may be a brand extension now, but who says websites we'll even exist in the same way in 10 years from now.

Now with a bit more thought I think the best answer is: drive traffic to where the user has the best brand experience for them.
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