More and more small business owners are beginning to realize sites like Digg and StumbleUpon are not the only (or even best) game in town when it comes to social bookmarking and social news sites. In fact, I've written post after post after post about how overrated Digg is when it comes to marketing options for the average small business owner. That's why I was pleased to see Chris Winfield's social media column at Search Engine Land today.
In it, he offers up six tips on how to find the best social media sites for your business. From checking out the badges on relevant blogs to scanning the stories that make it to the front page of a social media news site, his tips focus on taking the time to find out what sites are relevant to your target audience.
The best advice he gives is to go into any social media marketing push with specific goals in mind. Simply submitting your article to a social news site isn't enough. You need to define some goals so you can judge how well each site performs.
Test the waters. It's important to test the waters early and see what type of return you will get from a niche social network. Once you have a good piece of content ready to go, submit it and promote it (for help in building up your network check this previous article). Be sure to define your success metrics ahead of time and see how the results stack up to them. Are you looking for a) traffic b) links c) RSS subscribers d) buyers? Determine this ahead of time and then measure the results at specific times (personally I prefer to measure them at the following times after something has hit the homepage 1) 24 hours 2) 1 week 3) 1 month).
As with search engine marketing, social media success is not defined by how much traffic comes to your site. Instead, you'll need to focus on the quality of the traffic. How well does it convert? How much time do they spend on your site? How engaged are they with your content? Keep in mind that the right social media site for you may not send anywhere near as many visitors as Digg or Reddit might, but will end up earning you far more profit in terms of new readers and new customers.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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