Resources

Is Your Site Antisocial?

Done right, social media sites can boost Web site traffic.
This story appears in the March 2007 issue of BizTech Magazine.

Social media sites such as Digg.com, Delicious and Technorati are the darlings of online media. These sites, which aggregate content from various sources all over the Web, pushed user-submitted and user-rated content systems into the mainstream. The premise is simple: Submit a link to a Web page (such as a news release) and add a headline, link and description. Other users see that link and can vote to make it more (or less) popular. Those that get the most votes appear on the home page. What makes this significant to Web site owners is that having your content linked from one of these sites can send your Web site traffic from a trickle to a tsunami.

But before you jump in with both feet and post “Digg this” links all over your site, take a hard look at whether social media links are relevant for your site. At this time, social media users are predominantly young, tech-savvy early adopters of new media who tend to be high-volume Web surfers, although exceptions exist. Furthermore, the stuff that ranks high on social media is rarely business-to-business news. If you’re thinking your news release on your company’s new steel-manufacturing patent process is front-page news, think again.


del.icio.us displays the zeitgeist, showing the most popular items as chosen by millions of users.

If you feel there is a potential fit, here are some things to keep in mind:

Participate first: Always register with and participate in a social media site before posting your content there. Each site has its own flavor in terms of content preferences and audience type. Karim Yergaliyev, better known as supernova17, is one of digg.com’s most active users. The University of Maryland student has submitted more than 1,300 articles and voted for 36,000 articles in the past two years. He offers this advice: “Try to become very familiar with the community. Add friends to your network and interact with them outside of the Web site.”

Choose sites carefully: There are easily more than 200 social media sites online and this number is growing exponentially. With a field this big, you want to choose your targets carefully. The most common limiter is traffic — many just don’t get enough to send any traffic your way. Others are limited to certain topical areas. Start with the biggest players, such as digg.com, delicious, reddit.com, newsvine.com, stumbleupon.com, technorati, blinklist.com, furl.com, ma.gnolia.com and shadows.com.


Technorati tracks all content using tags. In this case, material tagged with “windows vista” is displayed.

Tag your content: Sites like delicious and Technorati are largely driven by tagging. Tags are one-word descriptors used to label a Web page. You can integrate your content with social media sites by submitting your tags to them. Here’s how it works: You publish on your Web site a press release about your company’s great new high-efficiency solar panels. You tag it with Technorati tags for “solar,” “panels” and “energy.” When a user visits Technorati’s page for “solar,” all articles that have been tagged in Technorati with that term will be available there, including yours.

As an indexing system, social bookmarking and tagging can be confusing and seemingly arbitrary, as people file similar material in different ways (picture collecting a million file folder names from different people and organizing them). Still, participating in the sites will help you get a feel for the common threads. Jory Des Jardins, one of the founders of Blogher, a network of women bloggers, recommends doing some research before you assign tags. “You might go to Technorati and see how similar items are tagged,” she says. “You need to have some kind of a shared methodology before you go tag your stories. If you want to have some prominence in a certain area, go to blogs you really love. See how they tag.”


Submitting content is easy (using the digg.com interface, in this case). Getting popular content is the real challenge.

Be original: Yergaliyev says the most common items he votes against (or “buries,” in digg.com terminology) are spam links and blog posts that copy and paste from traditional news sources. “Be original,” he advises. “Try to find unique content that is different from general news stories.”

Play by the rules: There have been, and continue to be, many efforts to “game” the social media systems with content of questionable value. Tactics such as having each company employee create an account and then Digg a news item might work initially, but such a method gets recognized when repeated, and then the community cries foul. Remember, social media users can as easily vote against your content as for it, so act with the good intention of helping others find your exciting material, and you’ll do fine.

Dan Skeen is director of search engine marketing for Quarry (www.quarry.com), a communications agency in Waterloo, Ontario.

Sign up for our e-newsletter

Security

Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
Tools to Maintain Mobile Sec... |
Far-flung devices pose serious challenges, but a variety of technologies can help protect...

Storage

The New Backup Utility Proce... |
Just getting used to the Windows 8 workflow? Prepare for a change.
How to Perform Traditional W... |
With previous versions going unused, Microsoft radically reimagined the backup utility in...
5 Easy Ways to Build a Bette... |
While large enterprises have the resources of an entire IT department behind them, these...

Infrastructure Optimization

Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Ensure Uptime Is in Your Dat... |
Power and cooling solutions support disaster recovery and create cost savings and...
The Value of Converged Infra... |
Improvements in security, management and efficiency are just a few of the benefits CI can...

Networking

Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
How to Maximize WAN Bandwidt... |
Understand six common problems that plague wide area networks — and how to address them.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Mobile & Wireless

Now that Office for iPad Is... |
After waiting awhile for Microsoft’s productivity suite to arrive, professionals who use...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Hardware & Software

Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.
The Tools That Power Busines... |
Ever-evolving analytic software can greatly improve financial institutions’ decision-...
XP-iration Date: Today Is th... |
It’s officially lights out for Windows XP as an operating system. Here’s how the world is...