There's a reason why the term "Social Media" was coined for sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, Sphinn, Small Business Brief (Fetch) and Reddit.  Social means to "share", "be communal" with your "friends".  Conversation - isn't that what social media is all about?

If you write something good, find a beautiful picture, have a hilarious video - how in the world does anyone on a site know that these things exist, when you are competing with sometimes thousands of other submissions "recently submitted" items that within 5 minutes or 2 hours have your recently submitted item pushed to page 2-3 or even beyond the nether world?  Unless someone who sits on Digg or these other social sites all day spots your submission and gives you a vote or two, you're submission is likely sunk (of course the exception is anything related to Apple or Google that appears on Digg), to never see the light of the most sought after "front page".

Let's face it, most of the friends on the lists you make at the social media sites do not sit on the upcoming pages of these sites.  Most of your friends are actually being paid to do a job for their employer or client.  Are they ever going to know about the great "thing" you've submitted, without you telling them?  No.  Not likely.  Why?  Because this is the real world, not one where every one of your "friends" is a power user on these social sites.

So how do you approach utilizing social media without becoming a major pain in butt to your friends list?  Here are 5 quick simple "rules" of engagement:

  1. Ask them to actually Read Your Story, Look at the Picture or View the Video only if you truly believe it's something that particular friend would be interested in.  Don't ask for the Digg, the Sphinn or the Fetch first.  Give them the link to the actual article, picture or video first, if there aren't social networking buttons on the site, then after they read it, give them social site's link.

  2. Don't ask the same friends over, and over, and over, and over, and over .... (you get the picture) again.  Spread the love around.  Not all of your friends like the same things.  If its a cooking recipe, talk to your friends in your cooking groups or who lists cooking as their hobby or interest - don't send the article on CSS to a person on your list who only has cooking and related hobbies on their list.

  3. Vary the way you ask your friends to read/view the items you share.  By this I mean, if you are comfortable just IMing them, then send a message.  If email works as a better form of communication, dash off an email.  SMS message to a phone?  That works too.  The key is to know your friends well enough to know how they like to learn about something.

  4. Be careful about using "In System" announcement systems to reach out to your friends.  On Digg the system is called "Shout", other sites have other names, and what it essentially does is annoy your list of friends.  If you are "outed' for using these features, especially on Digg, they bury you quicker than you can push that "shout" button.

  5. Visit your friend's pages and be proactive.  Fetch their article, Digg their page, or stumble their favorites.  Add a review or a link, in other words, be proactive about "sharing" the love, but be honest about it, and don't use it to "blackmail" your friends for Fetches, Diggs or Sphinns.
Social media, whether it's a news site, wikipedia, or forums, do not work unless we speak to one another.  Unless we are informed, how do we know?  Unless you are addicted to social media sites, it's likely you would never know unless someone pointed you and told you "read this!"  Remember, as my good pal Jennifer says "Conversation puts the Social in Social Media"

November 19, 2007

Liana "Li" Evans is the director of internet marketing at KeyRelevance Search Engine Marketing. She oversees all social media, online PR and word-of-mouth marketing efforts for a variety of clients within the company’s portfolio. Li also collaborates with the team on all SEO (Natural Search) optimization for clients. Since 1999 Liana has been active in the search marketing arena, becoming well versed in all avenues of search marketing but with particular focus on natural search, image search, and social media. She also has substantial experience in areas of the retail industry regulated by the FTC. Prior to Li’s tenure at KeyRelevance Search Engine Marketing, she helped to design, plan, and implement an Internet Retailer 500 company’s efforts into natural search optimization, successfully revamping outdated navigation and site architecture. Li is an accomplished programmer and database programmer/designer familiar with the demands of large-scale, dynamic retail sites.

Liana holds a B.A. in Information Systems with a minor in Public Relations from Susquehanna University, and an Associates Degree in Mass Communications/Public Relations from Pennsylvania College of Technology. She currently lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Limerick, PA and runs the search marketing blog Search Marketing Gurus.

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