social bookmarkingSocial Bookmarking

As promised, this section is going to introduce you to social bookmarking which is going to be one of the ways that you truly start increasing traffic to your website.

You’ll find a ton of introductory information as well as some intermediate discussion throughout this text.  As I mentioned in the introduction, make sure that you read this section so that you can gain the most benefit from this book.

Social bookmarking is based on the concept of sharing information on the web, and has evolved rapidly with the growth of the internet communities and interactive sites.  As more people turn to websites to learn, research, and even read the latest news, the ability to track and monitor this behavior is becoming even easier.

Collective intelligence is leading the wave of sharing information based on specific keywords and subjects, and can help marketers and business owners in many ways.  Today’s social networking sites are incorporating many social bookmarking elements into the platform.

This allows users to learn even more about each other, and is engaging people online by building communities, opening up new networking channels, and giving marketers and business owners a chance to track behavior.

The Wikipedia definition for social bookmarking states: “an activity performed over a computer network that allows users to save and categorize  a personal collection of bookmarks and share them with others.

Users may also take bookmarks saved by others and add them to their own collection, as well as to subscribe to the lists of others. – a personal knowledge management tool.”

Each social bookmarking site is designed differently, but ultimately allows users to create a profile, update their preferences, and share this information with friends and family.  Since they are creating this growing network of information, a pattern of tastes and preferences is established—and made publicly available.

This profile is the key element of interest to marketers; it’s created with basic registration and in most cases, an e-mail address and login name allow complete access to the social bookmaking platform.  The visitor can begin publishing their activity to share with fellow social bookmarkers, and this creates a network of categories.

Discovering and sharing information with keywords in specific topic is what allows social bookmarking networks to grow; as more information is provided, the categories of interest also develop to provide key information.

Digg.com is a perfect example of social bookmarking that is growing rapidly.  Users can rate and comment on articles, video content, and podcasts on thousands of topics; the more popular items are posted on the Digg.com front page, while others are rated and logged for the community to review.

While Digg.com is primarily a news site, it is just one example of a valuable social bookmarking network that has developed into a proliferating online community.

Any articles or information that is posted on Digg.com has the potential of being viewed by millions of visitors.  Getting to the Digg.com front page ensures thousands of page views, all at a very low initial cost.

Of course, the information that reaches this level must be valuable to Digg.com readers; since the votes are all user-generated, it allows anyone submitting information to learn about their audience from the ground up.

People Love Building Their Own Bookmarking Pages

The fundamental reason why consumers build social bookmarking profiles is to create an identity to share. After doing so, they are able to interact on social networking sites on a regular basis, and marketers can use this behavior to their advantage by:

  • Monitoring their favorite brands
  • Reading about new products
  • Learning about competitor products
  • Identifying with other users
  • Seeing what friends and family find interesting
  • Finding out what the latest trends are
  • Identifying new products to purchase

 

In order to create a profile on many of today’s leading social bookmarking sites, a user simply creates a screen name, login information, and possibly uploads a picture.  Depending on the theme of the site, the user will then go ahead and ‘upload’ the relevant information such as links or products to their profile pages.  After that, they can become a part of a community.

Community members and leaders rise to the top ‘ranks’ of the site based on a variety of factors including:

  • Level of activity
  • User feedback
  • Number of products reviewed or discussions created
  • Popularity within the community
  • Number of fans

In many ways, social bookmarking is considered to be a form of collective intelligence.  Collective intelligence based on a few trends in the marketplace, news, or other information can provide very important data to a third party observer.

Filtering data has become even more important today as it provides insights and information on direct experiences with many of the goods and services available in the marketplace.

Planning Social Media Into Your Site

Social media offers the latest roundup of online technologies that is based on the concept of community. Sharing opinions, posting comments, participating in discussion boards, and simply exchanging media files are all facets of social media on the web today, and social bookmarking and networking are just a couple of these online activities.

Knowing how to develop your website so that it is conducive to social media applications can help you interact with your customers in a variety of new ways, and ultimately, lead to the traffic levels you desire.

Increased traffic is a necessary result of innovation, and attractive websites that encourage user interaction are making the business of marketing much easier.

Social media sites encourage users to set up a profile and interact with other community members.  Communities and niche channels develop organically, with limited effort from a company or site owner.

By joining some of these networks as a business entity, you can create a valuable presence with a variety of customers and find out what they are most interested in.

Submitting valuable articles and content, and then sharing it in a niche community, is an excellent way to create a positive presence in the world of social media, but there are some specific steps involved when publishing on the web.

SEO-friendly content is not the only way to develop a presence, as there is an element of interacting with community members involved as well.

But why is social media so important in your everyday business and marketing efforts?  What role does it play in reaching your target market?

These are both questions that many website owners and businesses ask, and determining the effectiveness of social media will be a part of your internet marketing strategy.

Social media is quickly becoming one of the web’s fastest growing online activities, a place for customers in a variety of markets and niche communities to learn, educate others, and interact with other buyers.  As a result, it is in your best interest to track and gauge different patterns.

Consider social media  to accurately gauge your customer’s interests, tastes, and preferences.

Each contributor is essentially volunteering testimonials on products, likes, dislikes, and other information that was once only available from direct market surveys or interviews.  Social media platforms offer you some insight on what the customer truly wants at any given time.

Developing your website so that it uses at least two to three of today’s leading social media technologies can help boost traffic with less and less direct marketing efforts.  Consider the value for social media activities such as:

  • Wikipedia
  • Social networking communities
  • Video sharing
  • Virtual reality and events
  • Online audio episodes
  • Livecasting
  • Media sharing

Wikipedia Explained

Wikipedia is quickly becoming a valuable way for businesses to attract fresh visitors, simply through educating and informing them on a specific subject.  Developing an article with your business link, and then submitting it to a Wikipedia directory, can easily help you reach a variety of targeted visitors who have a specific interest in your subject.

The only effort you need to make in this case is to provide a quality article or material, and submit it to the appropriate category on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia receives thousands, even millions of web visitors each day.  Simply creating one link to your information can be all it takes to reach a wider audience.

In the event that a visitor finds the information especially useful, you have the chance to join a social bookmarking network as well; social bookmarkers are always looking for valuable content to link to and submit, and you have a chance to join a new community with each submission as a result.

Social Networking Sites

Social networking communities offer another opportunity to join the social media channels. Every effort you make to identify your brand and web presence can be increased tenfold when you join a consumer-driven and user-generated community such as MySpace, LinkedIn, or other social networking platform.

These sites encourage regular interaction in a casual and conversational style; although you won’t be submitting specific articles or content, you will be growing your brand presence with your users.  IN addition, you can use the Search features on any of these sites to narrow down your target market.

This Big Time – Video Sites

Video sharing can work well in conjunction with your article and content submissions, and is becoming especially popular with social bookmarking.

Creating and publishing videos to deliver a message can easily be picked up by many social bookmarkers and shared instantly. The idea is to create something unique and creative so that more people are driven to view it—and ultimately, head back to your website!

Interactive Sites With A Focus On Events

Virtual reality and events are another way to attract new viewers to your website, and can create an instant impact with other marketing efforts.  If you submit a press release about your event or the latest innovations on your website to different social bookmarking networks, the chances of increased exposure are much higher.

Making sure all of your submissions are tagged and indexed in the right categories will help you create a strong presence in the community; essentially, you are notifying your community of the upcoming event or news in press release form.

If you catch onto a trend or other newsworthy subject, you can gain instant favor on a variety of social bookmarking communities such as Digg, Technorati, or Reddit.  This is a great example of buzz marketing at its best, and can benefit your website promotion efforts in multiple ways.

Podcasting

Developing online audio episodes of content is quickly becoming a popular activity for bloggers and website owners, and including this type of media on your website can help you promote your work in a new way.

The immediate attraction of audio on your website can also be submitted to social bookmarking sites and other media channels, and once you have a system in place for publishing these files on your site, you can start sharing the link on a regular basis.

Sites including Digg and Technorati now have a section for podcasts and audio files; more people are becoming interested in simply listening than reading, and you can begin to reach a much wider market by taking advantage of this trend.

Streaming Media

If you have a business or website that can create news, tips, or advice, then Livecasting may be another opportunity for you.  These segments of online video are designed to share an idea, showcase an event, or even stage a seminar.

The idea is to generate enough interested users who ‘join’ the session from anywhere; livecasts are online events that can be used to generate buzz.  A press release that highlights the event can easily be submitted to social bookmarking sites and directories for instant exposure.

Distributing Files

Media sharing is one of the precursors to social bookmarking and networking, developing from the concept of photo sharing and music exchanges.  As these sites have grown, more people are learning to share and create profiles so that they can fit into different communities naturally.

Flickr and Zoomr are just a couple of examples of these, and you can create a small profile of your own to join. Always remember to include a link back to your main website, as this will be the ultimate driver of new traffic.

All of these social media platforms offer you an opportunity to establish a presence within a community, and then start to network with other individuals.

Always keep in mind that any piece of content that is published on the web has potential for sharing; the link is what will be submitted to social bookmarking directories and networks. You can work on building a profile of your won, or counting on your customers to do this for you.

The goal is to create a valuable and consistent presence in a variety of social media outlets so that the chances of being bookmarked and shared are much higher.

Web 2.0 Explained

Building a network of like-minded users and visitors is the basis of Web 2.0 applications on the web today, and social bookmarking is just one element of this growth.  Web 2.0 sites are based on a few key principles that encourage interaction and sharing information with ease.

By using tagging and breaking down information into keyword structures, everything is organized in a way that makes it easy to search and find specific information.

From blogs to shopping sites, Web 2.0 has allowed new, media-rich applications to serve as platforms for all users.

Sites such as Digg.com, StumbleUpon, LinkedIN, ThisNext, and dozens of others are building communities and creating networks.

An Internet Marketers Take

Web 2.0 applications are essentially doing what market research departments have been working on for decades; filtering information on consumers, and segmenting the market.

Market segmentation is an essential part of consolidating demographic information, and has often been compiled through surveys, focus groups, and other market research initiatives.

Web 2.0 applications allow many marketers to simply miss these steps;

If your  market is voluntarily sharing information about their tastes, preferences, and other ideas through bookmarking channels, it becomes much easier to learn and develop new tactics to keep them engaged.

Many industries can gain  insights and information from experimenting with social bookmarking and networking tools.  This concept of creating a knowledge economy is growing rapidly in areas such as:

  • Retail banking
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Education
  • Research and Development
  • Communications
  • Retail and Shopping

 

Social bookmarking allows marketers to:

  • Segment and augment their market
  • Help with branding
  • Develop relevant RSS feeds
  • Open up a platform for visitor comments
  • Monitor and track how specific products perform in the marketplace
  • Increase revenues
  • Reduce expenses

 

Social bookmarking is influential, and many sites develop a format where similar products, articles, or items are conveniently located next to the current one for easier navigation.  This creates a more enriching experience for the visitor, but also helps track basic preferences for a variety of users.

This recommendation concept has been very successful on shopping sites such as Amazon.com, and is gaining speed in multimedia, articles, blogs, and other information hubs as well.