I’ve Stumbled, Dugg, and Reddit and It is Del.ici.ous – What Next?

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Since the explosion of online social media, there has been an impressive growth pattern in its use. The tactic of bookmarking, where users of social media sites tag and suggest items they think friends may like, has been a catalyst for some social media sites to really take off. With this continued success, the need to develop different kinds of marketing specific to social bookmarking has become clear.

One of the challenges in using social bookmarking as a marketing tool is choosing websites that can be most useful for your specific purposes. Each social media property has a different audience base, concentrates on different types of material, and has features that set it apart from the others. To help you get started on deciding which social media sites might work for you, let’s talk a little about some of the most popular social bookmarking sites.

Which are the Most Popular Social Bookmarking Services Today?

Digg.com: Probably the most notable of the social bookmarking services, digg is superb at sending traffic to a website; however, expect the spike to be short-lived. Quantcast estimates a monthly unique visitor count of 8.5 million people. The audience is predominantly male. The 18-24 year age group is most active, as are those with household incomes of $30,000 – $60,000. Items that do well on this site include interesting photos, intriguing corporate incidents, and lists (how-to or top-10 especially).

StumbleUpon.com: StumbleUpon is the fastest-growing social bookmarking site to date. It is fun to use and helps you find interesting user-submitted content available on the web that you would never find with a standard Google search. StumbleUpon reports a total member base of 3,615,209 and Quantcast indicates a monthly unique visitor count of 1 million. The activity on the toolbar is likely far greater. Quantcast shows that male users outnumber female by a fair margin. The age group of 45-54 is most active, while those with a household income of over $100,000 are slightly more likely to be using this site. What is interesting with StumbleUpon.com is that it can drive repeated spikes of traffic back to your site over time, as the more users who “stumble” the page and “thumb it up” help push it from their accounts.

Del.icio.us: One of the older social bookmarking sites, del.icio.us has been purchased by Yahoo! Del.icio.us caters to an older audience and tends to be more business-related. Quantcast reports mostly male visitors, although females are not as far behind in the stats as some other sites. Users are mostly between the ages of 35 and 64, with slightly more in the 45+ year range. Those with an income below $30,000 are the largest segment, followed closely by those with a household income between $60,000 and $100,000. Quantcast reports an estimated monthly unique visitor figure at 2.7 million. Del.icio.us has recently updated their Bookmarks extension for Firefox. It now lets a user access their bookmarks via the browser as well as the del.icio.us site.

Reddit.com: Another very popular social bookmarking site, reddit also has a predominantly male audience. Age groups of 35-44 and 45-54 are most active. Household incomes are centered in the $0 to $30,000 range and the $60,000 to $100,000 range. Reddit has close to 1 million unique visitors a month according to Quantcast. Political, environmental, and corporate news does well on reddit. Like digg, the use of lists works well here, as do entertainment stories.

How Social Bookmarking Services Fit an SEM Strategy

Although the industry is still undecided on how to integrate social bookmarking into an effective strategy, I think there are three primary ways to do so. Each approach can be combined with SEO best practices and engineered to create an effective ROI. Social bookmarking professionals can take these strategies and use them to increase ROI and, at the same time, help keep strategies for social bookmarking ethical and effective.

Brand Marketing

Exposure, exposure, and more exposure for your brand, product, and service is a good thing. This approach involves creating bookmarks across the top level, second level, and third level social bookmarking sites to build brand awareness and search engine saturation. This type of campaign appeals to small business owners as well as large conglomerates because of its affordability and effectiveness in product or service promotion. It uses a mix of SEO- and non-SEO-friendly sites to help build brand awareness, traffic, and links.

What specific techniques work for branding? The primary method is to arrange to have multiple pages of your site available to be bookmarked, so as to not have hundreds of links pointing to just one URL.  Laying down a massive amount of social bookmarking links across a network of websites creates saturation and buzz for your campaign.

Community Leveraging

The primary goal with this approach is to build links naturally, using social bookmarking as the driving force. Instead of simply adding social bookmarks within a specific community, it involves creating a profile with the intent of content development for your targeted social bookmarking community and building upon that profile. This provides the ability to captivate other members within that community. Contacts can be made and members of that community can be encouraged to also bookmark your specific URL. This will result in a gain of mass exposure and ultimately inbound links, for both traffic and link popularity, to your site.

Here’s a typical scenario. A piece of content is built with a particular social bookmarking site in mind. Then that URL is submitted to a site like digg or StumbleUpon and leveraged to gain front page exposure. This draws traffic, exposure, and inbound links naturally to your site. This technique is very involved and takes a lot of time, preparation, and constant work to achieve success and do so in an ethical manner. If carried out incorrectly, it could potentially result in your site being banned from a social bookmarking site.

Link Development

This approach is very popular with Internet marketers and SEOs as it results in the gain of quality inbound SEO links for internal pages, your home page, your sitemap, and other deep-linking exercises. These types of links allow spiders to crawl your pages quickly and effectively, pass link value, and allow the SERPs to be filled with your site’s pages. This tactic is perfect for a site that needs links strictly for SEO purposes.  By sifting through the cornucopia of social bookmarking sites, you will be able to find the ones, which are SEO friendly and redirected sites. It’s a good practice to build a list of your accounts at social bookmarking sites that are SEO friendly and those that are not so friendly.

Keep all of these accounts in good standing and, if need be, give your bookmark pages some link love in order to get them crawled and indexed. That way, when you bookmark for a client, they are picked up faster. Remember to space these out so that the links look more natural to the search engines and you get more link love to different parts of a site.

What is most interesting about this area of online marketing and SEO is that it is very new. I see the opportunity for people to build automated scripts to do this type of work, but I still think social bookmarking will always be something best done by hand. There is much more control when done manually. By taking a structured approach using the above three broad tactics, the social bookmarking effort can be effectively implemented, without losing the opportunity for creativity in how the tactics play out.

About the Author

Joe Whyte has been developing, managing and implementing successful, innovative, bleeding edge digital marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies for over 7 years.

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