I’ve kind of mentioned social bookmarking around the SEO and blogging sections of the site, but I really wanted to take a look at the more social aspects of it – and specifically, how you can promote yourself without being harassed, blocked, or spam-listed.
The first rule is simple: add something of value to the social bookmarking website – other than your self-promotional materials. I don’t care if you’ve mastered the art of a catchy title and viral-quality content, if all of your reviews are coming from a small and predictable list of domains, you’re going to be labeled a spammer and you’ll be fighting an uphill battle to even have your excellent content seen again.
So, what exactly is “adding value” for a social bookmarking site? The first part is obvious: submit interesting links with titles and descriptions that provoke debate. This keeps the site running – there is no social bookmarking without this activity and chances are your reputation on the site is going to be linked in several ways to how well-received your idea of entertainment & information is.
The trick, of course, is knowing your audience. Before you do anything, spend some time reading. Check out the stories that are popular. Soak up the conversation and debate that follows. All communities, online or offline, have their own biases, tendancies, and even inside jokes. Learn a few of these jokes and have fun with them. Remember, you may be here to do business, but one part of the business is fitting in and getting along with the people who are here to have fun or get away from work.
Now, go back to those popular stories, and add your two cents in an appropriate manner. Throw your opinions around, just make sure to be as respectful and serious (or as insulting and irreverant) as the community expects you to be.
Soak it in
Once you’ve got some comments under your belt, you’ll probably start to see some votes and reactions to your input. Again, this is a good chance to get a feel for the community but don’t assume that anyone who responds to you is speaking on the behalf of the mythical “everyone.” There are plenty of trolls who will give you a hard time regardless of what you’re doing so try to ignore the random and rare taunt as long as you’re not giving them any reason to legitimately complain. Recognizing the difference, of course, is going to be one of those valuable talents you’ll need to cultivate. Patience is the other.
Share Your Favorites or Break the News
You’ve got some comments, you’ve seen the reaction: Its time to start submitting the best stuff you’ve got. No, not your stuff. Your favorite other stuff. Is there some picture of a kitten doing something hilarious that you’ve forwarded to 100 people by now? Submit it. Have you seen those hilarious edits of Star Trek TNG up on Youtube? Submit it.
If the news breaks and you just know its going to be the big story of the day, submit it! If you’ve got enough time, publish a reaction to the event on your own blog and submit that. Be careful though, don’t just snag a snippet of someone’s content and toss up a link. Short posts and heavily quoted ones end up the realm of “blogspam,” the dreaded shortcut tactic that gives all bloggers a bit of a shady reputation that we have to constantly push back against.
Write Some More
Now you’ve got some stories in, hopefully you’ve got some front page links too since you can cherry pick from all the content that’s already been written: All the classics are new again!
You’ve seen what works, so its time to get that on your own site. This means writing, research, finding media, blah blah blah… Sometimes all it really takes is a catchy headline that inspires bored cubicle-dwellers to procrastinate their TPS report for another five minutes.
Mix it Up
Even if you’ve established yourself as a constructive and contributing member of the online community, you’ll still want to make sure that you mix up the source of your links. Even if your site is a crowd favorite, people will get irritated eventually if they feel like your primary purpose for being there is to push your own domain.
If you’re doing it right, social bookmarking can deliver a lot of traffic … from people who really aren’t looking to buy anything. There are a few shopping-oriented sites that are an exception to this rule – but in general, bookmarking users are not interested at all in your overt commercial solicitations. They probably even have ad blockers installed. Anti-consumerism is the newest trend, haven’t ya heard? Its also a self-deprecating joke among the newest “poorest generation:” College has never been so expensive, and the job market hasn’t looked this bad in a lifetime. Spending money is so 90s.
So what’s the point of attracting a bunch of broke young adults and teens? Well, if you were doing it right and publishing awesome content, they’re going to link back to you, blog about you, and even submit your link to other social bookmarking sites. What does that give you? A bunch of freaking links! If you don’t know how to make money with that, then you should head over to the Advertising & Business & SEO pages for some ideas!