Developing a strong presence on social networking and bookmarking sites doesn't involve complex formulas or algorithms. Sure, sites like Digg and Reddit have algorithms, but your best bet is to focus on the two major pillars of success on social bookmarking sites - great content and a network of users to promote it - rather than focusing on racing to the front page.

Building your social bookmarking network involves more than just adding users to your friends list. Participation is required - it's what gets you noticed. Voting for, spreading and commenting on other users' content shows you're willing to contribute to the community.

Keep reading for nine basic do's and don'ts when building your social bookmarking networks.

1. DO friend, IMvite and follow power users - but DON'T become a pest

The best place you can start building your social media presence is by making friends with power users. They have literally hundreds, if not thousands of friends, and a vote on your content from them can often translate into additional votes from their followers.

But remember, everybody is busy. They most likely won't have time to digg, vote or retweet 100 links a day or answer a beginner's questions personally. Be sure you vote on their content and respect their time.

2. DO participate in the SOCIAL part of social bookmarking - but DON'T be a troll

Commenting and participating in conversations on social bookmarking networks isn't so much about being social as it is about taking the time the to look at other's submissions.

But don't be too controversial just for the sake of stirring things up, and don't reply to something just to disagree. You can try to be funny, but remember not everyone will appreciate your sense of humor, so be careful.

3. DO embrace multiple social networks - but DON'T spread yourself too thin

There are literally thousands of social media networks and instant messaging utilities out there. Joining multiple social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon and Yahoo! Buzz is a great way to expand your reach. Manage your time wisely, though. Creating and maintaining an active profile can be a lot of work on some sites, so don't spread yourself too thin.

4. DO submit content from community favorite sites - but DON'T submit commercial content

When you're a part of a social bookmarking community like Digg, Newsvine or Propeller, it's likely you will notice certain sites make the front page regularly. Being the first to submit new content from these sites can be a great way to get noticed.

On the other hand, submitting content that has no place in the community you're in is one of the sure-fire ways to fail at social bookmarking. If you appear self serving, folks will vote your stuff down and remove you as a friend. Be sure what you're promoting is worthy of votes!

5. DO submit content from a variety of sites - but DON'T consistently submit content from a single site or short list of sites

This may seem obvious, however, there are many people who only submit their own content and occasionally make comments on or vote on other stuff. This is a red flag that you're only in it for the marketing, which is not the image you want to project.

The best way to avoid looking like a marketer is to submit articles, etc. from a wide variety of websites that fit the bookmarking site.

6. DO sign in, vote up, retweet and comment regularly, DON'T leave huge lapses of activity in your accounts.

One of the keys to successful marketing through social bookmarking sites is being a regular. Taking too much time away could mean all of your hard work going to waste. It's not that you can't take a well deserved vacation. But the more available you are to vote and spread submissions of others, the more influence you will have in gaining exposure for your own stuff.

7. DO perform favors for your friends - but DON'T ask for too much without giving something back

Help your friends out and they'll help you! Don't wait to vote up or retweet your friend's submissions. If you go out of your way for them, the more likely they'll do the same for you.

Don't ask too much without giving something in return and if you ask someone to vote or retweet something, be sure it's top quality content. Eventually, people will avoid or ignore you altogether if it's not.

8. DO act like a human being, DON'T act like a computer or robot

The basis of social media like bookmark networking sites is the human touch - the fact that a real person cares enough about a topic to pass it along to others who they think will also care. If you're trying to get content out to as many people as possible, you need to act like a real person. Be friendly and have conversations with others online from time to time.

9. DO keep at it and DON'T give up

Like anything, building a network for social bookmarking sites takes a lot of time and hard work. You don't have to spend all day everyday on social media to be successful. But you need to find a routine you're comfortable with and stick with. Persistence is the key to success.

March 22, 2010

Stone Reuning is president and founder of SEO Advantage, Inc., an online marketing firm and website optimization company that helps businesses turn their websites into powerful lead and revenue generation tools.

Beginning with a focus on search engine optimization in 1999, SEO Advantage now brings a full multi-disciplinary approach to each client website. Clients enjoy dominance on Google, Yahoo and Bing through a suite of unique pay-for-performance search engine optimization and online marketing services. Experts in SEO, social media optimization, online reputation management, and website conversions work hand-in-hand with small business owners and client marketing departments providing complete copywriting and creative web design support.

You'll find SEO Advantage referenced in books such as Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale and the BusinessWeek bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR, as well as popular ebooks like The Small Business Blogging Blueprint.


Great tips on do's and dont. Often sounds like common sense, however that is sometimes not that common.


Wow, interesting rules. And yikes at no. 6. What is this, 2008? Digg no longer dominates...

Interesting. Might have been easier to read if dos and don't were separated. For a second when I saw IMvite, I thought it was a reference to the now defunct startup.
I think another thing to note, especially for small businesses is to get everyone involved. For example our team all uses the same delicious account, so people who tweet, and facebook have easy to access sources to pull from.
This post covers how teams can use Delicious more collaboratively.

Hi Mukul, Mona and Mikal, thanks for your comments... Mikal, great article on using Delicious - definitely worth a read! We'll look forward to following your team on Twitter.

Love this! #6 really says it all, though. When people ask me about Twitter, I try to tell them to picture it as one big dinner party. If you wouldn't walk up to a group engaged in conversation at a party and say, "Excuse me folks--I hear you're talking about wine, but I sell bicycles and here's my card" and then walk away, then don't do it on Twitter (or other social media). Likewise with the type of word choice you use, trying to hit up everyone in the room, or not listening to anyone.

If you WOULD normally do that at a dinner party, well...then save it for the dinner party and behave differently online. And memorize the 9 things in this article. Great read!

I think that social bookmarks are no "silver bullet" because their time is almost gone.

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