One of the popular trends on the web right now is social media and/or social networking, and it looks like there is no stopping it in the near future. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit are among the many sites which are leading the way with social media, but is there a way for you to use social media to your advantage?
There are a few ways you can take advantage of social media for your blog. Sites such as cracked.com seem to be on Digg’s front page daily, and this success shows.
Blogstorm.co.uk recently released a list of 100 sites based on how often they reach Digg’s front page. Cracked.com was ranked 26 on this list, and looking at Alexa’s stats is seems that it maybe a lot of where their visitors are coming from.
So, what advantages does social networking provide for blogs, and what are some ways to use them effectively? The most obvious advantage is traffic directed toward your site. From this traffic you can make some revenue, which is the goal for most sites. You can also build a loyal support base via social media. Looking at any of the social media sites, you can tell that they are very loyal to their brand. Just visiting any of the sites, you will notice arguments like Facebook is better than Myspace, or Reddit has a better user base then Digg, and so on.
This loyalty is something that takes large companies years to build, but via social media you can do the same thing in less time.
In order to effectively use social media, you have to be part of the community. As we already stated, the communities are loyal for the most part, but they are not welcoming to outsiders. If you were to submit a blog entry to Reddit, or Digg, it will most likely get lost in the shuffle. If you were to only use Twitter to announce a new blog article, your chances of looking interesting to other users can be very low. So how do you break this trend? You have to become part of the community.
This can require a lot of time. You will have to build a relationship with the users, and get to know them. This is a key feature that most people who use social media for advertising don’t fully understand. Most people are drawn to social media because it is a “free” way to advertise. Then they wonder why their plan doesn’t work, when they are not apart of the community. Some ways to start to fit into the community is simple, acknowledge the community. Comment on stories at Reddit, reply to tweets on Twitter, send personalized messages to people on Facebook. After you build a good network, then start linking to your blog, but continue to communicate in other ways. You can send a personal tweet or message telling a user that you thought they would be interested in an blog entry you posted, but only do it when you really mean it. After doing this, you have to remember not to “abuse” the community.
After building friends, don’t send them links to every blog article you wrote. Respect the users of the service. Remember the saying “Respect is a two way street”, and in social media this is really the case. By not spamming the people on your friend’s list with every article you write, you are respecting them. When you actually do send them a link, they are more likely to read the link.
Don’t seem like you are in the community just for advertising. If you are using Twitter, make tweets about other subjects. On Digg, submit stories from other sites, which you truly find interesting. Making yourself not look like a person spamming just one site, will allow you to build friends also. A person may enjoy the article enough to look at your past submissions, and if they feel like there is something in common they may check out your profile more often.
Write about something the community will like on your blog. If you know that most of your followers on Twitter really like 80′s TV show, talk about those shows and be creative when doing so. Talk about how you think the MacGyver would respond to current events, or how a reality show would be if the A-Team was part of it. If people find your site interesting, and can connect to the content, they will be willing to look at what else you have to say.
Posting an article on Digg about how to rebuild a car motor wouldn’t do as well as how to hack an electronic road sign. This is another aspect where being active in the community helps you understand what will do well on a social network site.
Make your site social. Allowing the user to interact on your site via comments, or a forum will make the user feel part of the site. They will be able to voice their ideas about the blog entry, and in doing so it will start to build your own community. This also allows you to get feedback from the community. If you post an entry that you thought was great but the community says they thought it was horrible, then you know not to write similar articles in the future.
Just like wine, it takes time to get the best out of social media. If you are expecting that social media will make a large influx of traffic to your site over night, then you should not use social media as a mean to advertise your site. Social networking doesn’t make advertising easier, it just makes creates more of a level playing field for the small blogs. With hard work, social media can be part of a site’s success.