We all know how important it is to have a content-rich website. Promoting these sites across the internet has in the past involved everything from search engine optimization to paid keyword referrals to link popularity campaigns. However, one of the most effective and relatively new methods to promote content-rich web sites these days, is through social media promotion.
What is "social media promotion" you ask? Simply, as defined by Wikipedia, social media:
"describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other."
Part of the Web 2.0 revolution; another catchphrase describing the new generation of web sites that have users that submit their own text, video and picture content; social media promotion can take many forms.
Usually, these technologies and practices take non-search engine forms and can involve such technologies as chat forums, message boards, blogs, podcasts, and wikis. Simply, social media can be considered ANYTHING that you can use to build a community to rally around. A well-run social media campaign can drive huge amounts of traffic to a website and can determine whether a new idea, website or startup ultimately takes off or not.
There are literally dozens of social media sites active across the internet today. Below are brief overviews of what I would consider the five most popular:
Digg (digg.com/) - the big boy of social media sites. Digg was formed initially with a tech focus and is still the end all for all tech or computer specific content items that you wish to pull across to the masses. Digg has however become so popular that its scope has now expanded to cover most any item of interest.
del.icio.us (del.icio.us/) - a close second to Digg in the area of backlink generation. The primary purpose of del.icio.us is to store your bookmarks online; in that regard, it's actually more community-focused then Digg. The ability to store your bookmarks online and add more from anyplace in the world, actually encourages cross-linking among site members who share similar interests. This in turn allows you to promote your own content to a shared community with similar interests, generating those much needed backlinks for site promotional purposes.
Technorati (technorati.com/) - the recognized authority on what is going in the world of weblogs. The main strength of Technocrati is the ability to keep tabs on your online visibility. The site allows you to keep tabs on who is linking to you, where you are being mentioned online, what kind of progress your site is making, and how your competitors are doing in comparison. The site can be indispensable if you routinely visit a lot of blogs and want to be updated on them when their content changes.
Wikipedia (wikipedia.org/) - online only since 2001, Wikipedia is now the world's largest reference website on the planet. The content of Wikipedia is free and collaboratively written by people all around the world. This site is so popular that a search of most terms will display a Top 5 Wikipedia result in Google. It is worth noting that if your website is not already one of the strongest entries on the web, a listing on Wikipedia could actually "outrank" your own website. Therefore, make sure this result is actually truthful and complimentary, whenever possible.
Facebook (facebook.com/) - primarily driven by young adults, this social media site now numbers over nine million users and is still growing. Facebook helps you keep tabs on members' profiles, at least those you can access. Recent changes to the site have made it very marketing friendly and a must-use if you have a college friendly product you wish to publicize. Members can purchase "facebook flyers," which starting at $5, can be displayed 10,000 times a pop. Pricing increases based on frequency and number of days shown. Facebook groups are also very popular and very loyal, find something that connects with your group or the site and the results can be highly viral.
Getting your content noticed on these sites isn't easy, but there are ways to prepare your content in such a way as to be considered "social media optimized." This SMO approach is becoming a new concentration area for current SEO firms and can involve any of dozens of different approaches.
Here are five effective SMO rules that you can implement immediately when preparing your content for future social media campaigns:
Make your site linkable - also known as increasing your linkability, make it easy for outside parties and social media sites to link to your content. This can be done in a variety of ways, the easiest being to establish a blog on your site. If blogs aren't your thing, maintaining free white papers, content-rich articles and resource pages that contain lots of useful links in one place, are great ways of increasing the linkable nature of your website.
Make bookmarking or social tagging easy - adding bookmarking buttons has been around for awhile. Go beyond this, though, by including a "delicious this" text link at the bottom of a post, and a Digg button near the top of the article. This format has been shown to be the most effective for generating votes for your content.
Start participating today - join the conversation on your site or in your site niche today. Start blogging on your own or make it a point to visit leading forums that target your audience and join the discussion . Answer some questions, provide some needed advice, and drop some "buzz" about your site at the same time; you won't be sorry.
Reward helpful users - helpful or valuable users to your site that contribute noticeably to the site's content and audience should be recognized and rewarded. This can take the form of a simple PM thank-you or a note on the forums themselves. The result of this is two-fold: you keep these valuable community members on your site, and you gain vocal champions of your site to outside members and sites they in turn visit.
Reward inbound site links - obviously the more inbound links your blog and site can generate, the better. This is still the singular method by which a site rises in the search rankings. Reward linking sites by providing them a permalink to use and listing them on your site in return. This simple act of acknowledgment provides the return gift of visibility and is never a bad thing.
The role of social media promotion to drive content is a continually expanding field. Even an examination of the main sites referenced above doesn't begin to cover the viral social content impact of such popular social media mechanisms as YouTube videos or Flickr photo slides and galleries.
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