There's a problem with things that are "cutting edge." They tend to be over hyped by a very small segment of the population and under hyped by a very large segment of the population. Yes, yes, I know...that's what makes them cutting edge. Stick with me...while we try again... There's a problem with things that are "cutting edge..." those who hype them often get so caught up in their potential that they fail to approach them with any semblance of reality. THAT hype is what leads them to be ignored by so many, embraced by so few and misunderstood by nearly everyone. Social Bookmarking falls into this category.

Social Bookmarking is a hot topic in the online marketing world right now. In fact, there were multiple sessions at last week's Search Engine Strategies show dedicated to the topic. That's a good thing, because there's quite a bit to be learned from social bookmarking...namely, that people tend to gather together in groups to share the things that interests them. That gives them amazing potential to deliver traffic and customers...if you're targeting the right audience. The problem is that many tend to get so inwardly focused on what works for them, that they fail to realize that there's a difference between concepts and actual marketing strategy.

For example, while there's no denying the amazing link and traffic potential that come from getting your article or site listed on a social networking community like Digg or, there's a danger in failing to understanding the demographics of the users of those sites. Just this past week, I listened to several industry professionals talking about how effective Digg has been in driving both traffic and links to their site. While there's no doubting the benefit that being "Dugg" can have for an industry or trade site, I have to wonder when those individuals start touting sites like Digg as the be-all-end-all marketing trend.

I've recently heard multiples instances of search marketers telling business owners the importance of coming up with content that could get them into Digg and other similar sites. In fact, I heard this told to one business after that business stated that their users were "primarily female, mothers in the 30 to 35 year age range." So what's the problem with the advice, you might ask? Well, according to Digg itself, 94% of Digg users are male. 88% of Digg users are in the 18-39 year age range and 52% of them are "IT professionals, developers or engineers." That doesn't really sound like the "young mom" demographic to me.

What that business owner needed to hear was about how he needed to do careful usability testing on his site (because moms are busy and don't have time to have to figure a web site out), how to find and buy advertising on sites that moms frequent (parenting discussion forums, parenting listservs and blogs and web sites targeting young, professional women) and how to come up with some type of viral marketing campaign (since women are much more likely to act upon the personal recommendation of a trusted friend.)

I'll be writing more about social bookmarking and social networking sites in the coming year, but I want to make one thing clear ahead of time.

Just because something works for someone else, doesn't mean that it's going to work for you. There's nothing cookie-cutter about marketing. While there's benefit to taking cues from what works (i.e. Digg = links = traffic. Traffic = potential sales), you have to look at every example and then figure out how to apply those principles to your own marketing campaigns. That's the angle I'll be covering as we start to delve into the various forms of "network" marketing.

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December 11, 2006

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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