Still wondering why you submit an article on Digg or Reddit and it goes nowhere? The key, as with most things in life, is who you know. But as with links, clients or affiliates: you want quality over quantity. You want people who are active and have strong profiles. So how do you go about building your network? Here are eleven ways to get started. Please note this post assumes you have a basic understanding of how to use sites such as Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Netscape.
Profiles = information. For example on Digg, click on a user’s name and then click on their Profile link (ex: top Digger Zaibatsu). On Digg people have the option of giving some pretty important information: their real name, where they are from, their website URL and also their instant messenger client and ID. If you met someone at a networking event wouldn’t it be easier to connect with them if you had all of that information already?
Use internal messaging systems. Both Netscape and Reddit have internal messaging systems where you can send messages to other users. Think of it like a link request, only something really good is going to get through and be noticed. Many users are over loaded by messages in these systems – so don’t abuse this.
Get them to notice you. Most people hate unsolicited contacts so it’s best to get users to notice you before just contacting them out of the blue. Most users look closely at who is voting for their stories on a regular basis. For example on Digg, you can use this tool to see who is voting for anyone else on a consistent basis. Once you feel you have “put in your time” then its time to make contact. Joe Schmoe is contacting you” means a lot less than “Joe Schmoe the guy who submits relevant stories that you have found interesting and seen on the homepage numerous times is trying to contact you.”
Talk to them on IM. Instant messenger is one of the biggest weapons in your social media marketing toolbox. Register your user name on all of the major IM networks (AIM, YIM, GTalk) and then use a program like Trillian to help manage all of them. Once you have made contact with someone the chance of them voting on your submissions increases exponentially. The reason? You now are more than just some weird icon.
Be a real person. “Can you please Digg/Netscape/Reddit/Stumble this link?” Those should definitely not be the first words you type when you are trying to win friends. Spend five minutes and get to know a little bit about them or at least discuss what you have in common (the social network). Talk about an article that they submitted that you found interesting, discuss any major recent happenings in the social network you are on.
Hang out where they are (online). Most active social networkers are in multiple places online. You’ll find them in the usual places like Facebook or MySpace but another great place is the microblogging sites such as Twitter. If you are focusing on building up your Digg account, check out Pownce, Digg co-founder Kevin Rose is one of the guys behind it so it naturally attracts lots of diggers. Many people use their same account name and even icon on these networks so it’s easy to find them. Remember clubbing when you would wind up seeing the same people at the same hotspots? It’s like that.
Hang out where they are (offline). The next time you are at a search marketing conference and are talking to someone – ask them what social networks they are on. It’s a quick way to build a stronger relationship with the person and to also strengthen your accounts. Or use a site like Meetup to find people with like interests, like this group in Maryland or this one in New York City.
Submit their stories and promote them. A great way to build contacts is to submit people’s stories and help them to hit the front page. I only recommend doing this if their content is good and it will also help you. If so – once it happens, let them know.
Network with colleagues. Go through your network listing on LinkedIn or your Outlook contacts and email a few to find out if they use social networks. Sometimes it’s really just that simple. Joejimbob123 on Digg might actually wind up being Joe that nice guy from SMX that you met.
Empower your friends and family. Sometimes this will require going to their house and setting everything up for them (along with a brief tutorial) but friends and family members can be an excellent resource. A lot of my friends surf the net all day long at their jobs, they were more then willing to setup a few extra accounts. By doing this you also introduce them to places where they can find content that’s always new, and they just might thank you for it.
Recruit remote employees. Voting from the same IP addresses is big no-no for the major social networks (hint: on most of the small ones it doesn’t really matter). Do you have employees or contract workers in remote locations? If so, have them create accounts on the networks you are on, they can keep it simple and use the same user name & picture on each. Have them spend a few minutes each day participating (voting on a few stories) and building up a natural account. Then when you need a vote, they are there.
With everything above, one of the most important things to remember is that you want to be a good member of the community. For anyone who you encourage to setup an account (whether it be a friend, employee or colleague) make sure they are participating at least a little bit and not just voting on your submissions.
Follow these tips and you will be on your way to more friends and much more influence in the major social news networks.
Chris Winfield is the President and Co-Founder of 10e20, an Internet marketing company that specializes in social media & search marketing services and is based in New York & Florida. The Let’s Get Social column appears Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.