Finding Success in Social Media

One of the more interesting sessions at SMX Advanced 2007 in Seattle was the “SEO meet SMM” session. Speakers included Rand Fishkin, Neil Patel, Todd Malicoat, and Cindy Krum. This article will provide an integrated summary of their advice for social media marketing.

Social Media Site Profiles

Setting up profiles for yourself or your clients on social media sites is an excellent idea. First of all, it prevents someone else from creating a profile on the social media site using your name. Second of all, it is great for reputation management (more on that in a moment). Thirdly some social media site profiles do actually pass PageRank, which you can choose to pass back to your main site.

Social media sites can be very effective in reputation management. Reputation management comes into play when someone has said something negative about you, and that negative comment is ranking highly in the search results for your name, or your company’s name. It’s clearly not good when this happens, but there is a way to at least partially address this problem: create profiles for yourself on major social media sites.

Many of these sites are very powerful in search engines, and having a profile there is likely to rank highly in the search results, hopefully above the negative comments. If you do this with enough profiles, you can push the negative result off the first page, and away from the eyes of many of your potential customers.

There are many places where you can create such profiles, such as:

While it’s helpful that many of these still pass PageRank, you may need to go farther to help that profile rise in the SERPs by getting links to your profiles. There are strategies for doing this, including linking to your profile(s) from your main site. A more aggressive approach is to provide unique giveaways from one of your profiles. These could be widgets, games, surveys, videos, podcasts, promotion codes, or whatever. Just something that users will want to take the trouble to go get.

Then there are the sites you focus on for developing link bait. Some of them are places to submit your own content or links to content. Others are popular blogs in certain niches or general tech culture. Here is a list of some of the more interesting ones:

Digg may have lost some of its luster, but it still delivers a ton of traffic and links. Each of the sites listed delivers heavy duty traffic, and determining which one is the best match for your content is an important exercise. One key way to do this is to visit the sites, and spend time with them. See what stories make it to their first page or their popular pages. Study it for some time. Figure out if you have the right content, or can produce content that is relevant to that audience.

Also, participate actively in the communities. This is critical because people who are active in a community have more success in getting content they submit warmly received. Success will not come by lobbing self promotional stuff over the wall at them.

In terms of guidelines for interacting with these sites, there are both written rules:

  1. Don’t pay for votes
  2. Don’t create multiple accounts
  3. Don’t submit illegal content

And unwritten rules:

  1. Don’t self-promote
  2. Don’t add biased information
  3. Don’t ask friends for votes

To succeed on these sites, you need to do several things:

  1. Add tons of friends, but keep only those who friend you back
  2. Participate in the community in a helpful way
  3. Become a top user
  4. Create a social brand
  5. Be ethical
  6. Think long-term

One of the great things about social media sites is that many large brands are not willing to work with social media sites because they can’t control them. This creates a huge opportunity for smaller businesses to compete on the web. While it’s well known that they can deliver a large amount of traffic, the traffic is not the value you are looking for, because most of the traffic will convert poorly. The real win is the links that you get as a result of the traffic. Major media companies can be reached through these sites, and they can produce very high-value links.

Eric Enge is the president of Stone Temple Consulting, an SEO consultancy outside of Boston. Eric is also co-founder of Moving Traffic Inc., the publisher of City Town Info and Custom Search Guide.

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