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How Social Media Becomes Link Fertilizer
The title of this article doesn’t mean I’m changing my position on social media as link driver. Yes, it’s possible, but for the overwhelming majority of web sites, a widespread and costly social linking strategy is a waste of time and money. Go ahead, call me a heretic, but inside you know I’m right.
If the site is this one for adult diapers then really, what’s the social media end game? Sure, you could write a blog post or article like “Ten Uses For Adult Diapers you Never Thought Of” or “Five Sexiest Senior Citizens Naked,” and sure, it might just make it to the Digg homepage, where not a single clicker/reader will be a person in need of that specific product. In fact, for the diaper site, the social media strategy should probably be bare bones simple, such as providing for passive sociality by giving users the ability to share or bookmark the content. If you are determined to go more aggressively social with it, at least focus your efforts here and here rather than at all these here.
I read blogs from a bunch of Social Media experts, which I am not–yet, and the experts say the power of Digg isn’t always in making it to the home page, where you get thousands of mostly useless clicks. The power is in the “second wave” links that a Digg mention can cause. In simpler terms, of the thousands of people who see the post on the Digg homepage, a few might actually have their own blogs that are related to what they spotted at Digg, and when they see it at Digg, they might very well link to it themselves on their own blog or site. Well, duh. Isn’t that what we’ve all been doing since the Titanic sank, linking to stuff we find useful or interesting? Do we really need a central place to find the good stuff? Sometimes yes; mostly, so far, no.
Think of it as social fertilizer. If you spread enough of it, by gosh, someone somewhere will surely be interested, right? Wasn’t that the logic that turned my email inbox into a cesspool? At least with social media nobody gets hurt, since the nature of most social media sites is to shove the good upwards and the bad downwards. A couple years ago I compared SM spam to cigarette butts and the Village Wine parable.
For what it’s worth, I do engage in social media marketing and link building for many clients, but not for all of them. It’s about discretion. Adult diapers? No. Indiana Jones IV, absolutely, all day long. Oddly, there’s a potential tie-in between those two, since Harrison Ford is getting old enough to fit the adult diaper demographic, but that’s a topic for another day. Discretion. That’s what should be at the core of the social media plans we create and execute for clients. Discretion with what should be socialized, discretion with how you go about it, and discretion with what you do with the traffic and links you end up getting as a result. I agree with the fertilizer concept of link building, and I do use it today, just like we used it back in the day for pure traffic plays from venues like Yahoo Picks (gone now, but New and Notable Sites remains), or USA Today Hot Sites. The value of those was–like Digg today–in the amazing traffic spike they caused, with the trickle down secondary link increase being a natural, welcome, residual effect. Sort of like social media fertilizer, eh?
Let’s all of us remember what fertilizer is often made from.
Lastly, sticking with my example diaper site from the beginning of this column, rather than burning hours and client dollars on a social media strategy that is likely pointless, why not instead identify and seek links from the best venues you see here, where nearly every link your adult diaper site is able to earn will not only help your reputation and trust, but perhaps also your search rank.
You might even get a little interested traffic.
Eric Ward has been in the link building and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from linking strategy and private customized link building training. The Link Week column appears on Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.