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Getting Started With Social Media Bookmarking

Image Getting Started With Social Media Bookmarking
Take a look online and you'll find a plethora of hard to pronounce websites with misspelled names with seemingly random periods and a culture of use that can be intimidating to the average web user. While you may not be a user of the Reddit, Sphinn, StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us and Digg sites, there's a good chance that your customers are. As a site owner, an awareness of these social bookmarking sites and what they are used for can help you leverage the technology to your advantage.

Essentially, these social bookmarking sites make sharing content easy, one of the key factors behind the concept of Social Media Marketing and Optimization. Optimizing a site for social media, or SMO, is now a lot more than simply a new buzzword. The use of content sharing sites could help your brand name grow and spread among customers you never would have reached otherwise.

What is Social Media Optimization?

Social media optimization is intended to make it easy to share the content of a site with users of other sites, including blogs, RSS feeds, image sharing sites, podcasts and vlogs (video blogs), which makes it easy and possible for people to talk about you.

The concept is simple: first, provide interesting content, then make it easy for others to find and share your content. This could be as simple as including a "Digg This" button on your blog, or embedding a "Share This" feature with buttons to the many different social bookmarking sites that are available, so your users can tag your content as interesting.

Benefits of Social Media Bookmarking

People use social bookmarking sites to share content they think is interesting or fun, so primarily, the benefit of using social media is increased visibility and exposure. The right content creates many opportunities for inbound linking and reaching a wider audience.

But also, over time, sites like StumbleUpon and Digg will start to understand what an individual user is interested in, and then continually direct them to information that they really want to see. Once people discover the content that you are sharing, and they give it a "thumbs up," these sites will suggest similar content to the same users in the future.

"Link Bait" Content

Creating the right "link bait" that generates publicity and interest in your brand is a matter of presentation and timing. Developing a fabulous video and then plopping it onto your site and hoping that people find it themselves will not be as effective as taking it to the masses via the many sharing sites that are available, such as YouTube and Vimeo. Vimeo is a little cleaner than YouTube, less advertising driven and easy to navigate. These social sites create opportunities for other people to engage with you and your brand and share the content for you.

There is a certain type of content that tends to get picked up by social bookmarkers, and within those communities of users, each social bookmarking site tends to have certain types of content that is favored. Check out the many top sites and find the right site for the type of content you want to submit or promote. The fastest way to learn what content is promoted is to observe for a few days.

The "big three" sites for driving traffic are Digg, StumbleUpon, and Del.icio.us. If you want to focus your efforts on sharing and bookmarking sites such as these, it helps to understand the personality of each site. Developing specific campaigns for each site will be more effective than taking one idea and using it everywhere.

Digg users tend to be young and tech-savvy. Getting to the front page of Digg requires really valuable content, the kind that might require a significant investment of time and resources. For instance, statistically significant research, interviews with or video of high-profile people, important news stories, etc. Digg users who don't like content can "bury" it, and you can only submit the same story once. Crafting a compelling headline is going to be a major consideration for getting attention focused on your story. While it might take quite a bit of effort and highly interesting content to make it to the front page of Digg, it can lead thousands of visitors to your site.

The content on StumbleUpon tends to be the most eclectic of the bookmarking sites. As you click to "Stumble" interesting sites you discover, the site recommends other sites, videos, images, etc. based on your interests, and it recommends sites you've Stumbled to other users. The site allows you to share and find content without using a search engine. Sites are rated, and sites with poor ratings over time are removed from the Stumbling feature. People pay a lot of attention to the users who give them "thumbs up" on their content, so if you're active on the site and providing good links, you'll get noticed.

Del.icio.us is a Yahoo-owned social bookmarking site that uses tags to publicly share content. It's OK to tag your own content on Del.icio.us, and though you won't acquire any inbound links from the site (all links from Del.icio.us are nofollow) once your content is found you will likely get more click-throughs and targeted traffic from people searching for your tags and finding your bookmarks. Users seem primarily interested in web-related content, such as programming, blogging, software, video and related tools, but other tags such as music, food and photography are popular too.

Newsvine allows members to submit news stories, comment on other stories, and write articles to share links or recommend books, movies and other interests to other Newsvine users. Your Newsvine user name becomes your own subdomain (www.yourname.newsvine.com), so this is an opportunity to have your keywords prominently appear in your profile name.

Top Tips:

* Submit content and ask your friends to vote for it. Get as many people involved as you can.

* Compose an attention-grabbing headline. You only get one shot, so be strategic.

* Don't try to bookmark your own content. It's easy for people to see that that's what you are doing, and it's considered spam. Your accounts will be canceled.

* Bookmark on several sites at once, using tools such as Socializer (http://www.ekstreme.com/socializer), Social Media Add-on for Firefox (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/7888), or OnlyWire (http://www.onlywire.com).

* If you have a WordPress blog, use plugins such as Sociable, ShareThis, and AddThis to make sharing with the many social sites quick and easy. The plugins display buttons for quick sharing to the social sites of your users' choice. The following plugin screenshot is from the MightyMerchant Ecommerce Blog.

The buttons, from left to right, direct users to Digg, Del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Facebook, Slashdot, Furl, Technorati, Sphinn, and Bumpzee. Other popular sites include Kaboodle.com, Mixx.com, Propeller.com, Yahoo Buzz (buzz.yahoo.com). Other popular sites with a niche audience are Spurl (a lot of tips and how-to content), Blinklist (maintains easily searchable libraries of your links and copies of web pages), and Kirtsy (a social sharing site specifically for women).

Twitter has its own "Tweet This" button:

Adding this button is a handy way for users to send out short tweets when they see something on your site that they like. Something like: "New juggling video posted at #FlyingClipper.com", perhaps!

Summary

Observe, then join in. Social media for most users is about entertainment and finding useful information. Good content is readily shared among these users, so the opportunity for increased exposure is great.

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