Handshake 2.0 launched on July 28, 2008. According to Google Analytics, the site had 126 page views.
We passionately created content, single-mindedly mission-driven to publish site content worthy of site traffic. Our top source of traffic in 2008 was "direct," i.e. people knew about the site and found it through its URL.
Almost two years in, over 30,000 people have visited Handshake 2.0, viewing its 1000+ posts and pages over 100,000 times. Our social media PR services have a delightful list of clients. And our top source of traffic is the great arbiter of online value – Google. What people seek through Google, they find more and more often on Handshake 2.0. Handshake 2.0 has traffic-worthy content.
In 2008, while "build it and they will come" no longer worked for Web sites, it worked for blogs. Handshake 2.0 is built on a TypePad blog frame. Our new content showed in Google search results ahead of the very sites of the companies about which we wrote. Why, back in the old days of 2008, a blog was omnipotent. People were still debating whether a blog was "new media" or "social media." In 2008, I had neither a corporate Facebook page nor a Twitter account.
Our social media sales funnel graphic tells the story of the past two years. Media fragmentation means not only does a Web site no longer attract traffic simply because it exists, but neither does a blog as a solo strategy. Rather than rely solely on search to find what they seek, people now use their social media networks for word of mouth (WOM) referrals. A visitor still needs to find fantastic content upon arrival at a blog or site. But people don't know about that fantastic content unless someone in a social network mentions it.
In 2010, vying for third and fourth place for top sources of traffic to Handshake 2.0 – direct traffic is now second - are Twitter and Facebook.
That is a result of expanding our original vision of creating fine content for Handshake 2.0 to include creating fine content for social media networks. This is what we do to a post on Handshake 2.0 in 2010 that we didn't do in 2008.
What might have happened to Handshake 2.0 had we not embraced social media?
I would have compromised my mission as a company founder. The screenshot at the beginning of this post shows Handshake 2.0 in 2008, a site with vitality, if perhaps a bit of large-fonted awkwardness. Regardless, it showcased people and companies in the hopes that knowing of each other would result in handshakes on deals.
Our look has changed in two years, as have the tools we use to achieve our mission. But the mission hasn't. Two years ago, we used a stone hammer. Today we're using titanium. We'll use what's next tomorrow. Regardless, we're still building businesses, one handshake at a time.