The new social media sites popping up in the wake of the Web2.0 revolution are providing us with unique opportunities when it comes to link building. Since I’m always on the look-out for resources that attract and target specific demographics, I’ve hit the linking jackpot on more than one occasion by developing promotions that take advantage of the services social media and networking sites offer.
Many of the social communities operate on a member based platform much like their offline cousin the industry association. There are subtle differences of course but basically the social networks and traditional associations share the same collective and operational principles—to recruit, retain and support like-minded people.
In order to be successful in this endeavor, both social communities and their association counterparts must continually advertise the benefits of membership. It’s not enough to be the first social player in your niche, have corporate backing or a snazzy one word name. You have to offer user benefits and participation rewards if you’re going to grow and retain members. It’s this push to advertise and develop benefit packages that could spell link opportunity for the smart e-marketer.
When you come across a network or association in your niche, sign-up, get involved and opt-in to their email alerts and newsletters. The latter are two information pipelines loaded with marketing opportunities, for example, here’s part of a promotional membership email I received last week from business network Ecademy.com:
We are looking for interesting Brand Partners to provide Ecademy members with unique offers of professional products and services.
My linkey senses went all tingly after I read the email and realized there was an opportunity to reach 125,000 business members in the network completely free of charge. What I ended up doing is slightly different but my general advice on an opportunity like this would be—create an attention grabbing, money saving offer and followup with a link request to anyone who takes advantage of the discount.
Many of the communities and associations understand the value of well ranked pages and design their sites to be search engine friendly. Some like SelfGrowth.com (who ranks #1 on Google and Yahoo for the term self improvement) appreciate the value of consumer generated content and actively seek out articles and papers written by its members. To house this content, SelfGrowth offers both an article and general directory to which any member may join and submit a link. From SelfGrowth:
We want to add your website to our complete directory, and there is absolutely no obligation to even return the link. Our goal is SIMPLY to create the most comprehensive Web directory of self improvement websites on the Internet.
It should go without saying that spamming these networks and associations with unrelated sites is not a good idea. You’ll be bounced as soon as they figure out what you’re doing so spend your time more productively.
Using online communities and traditional associations to market for links makes sense. With both, you’re joining a network of like-minded people who will be predisposed to trust and do business with you. It’s much easier to secure links from people who trust and know you than those who don’t. So where do you find these targeted social communities and associations?
Weddles.com has an in-depth list of associations and the Wikipedia offers a list of social networks. I also find them as I stumble around and by doing a little “elbow grease” searching (your keyword + community).
Whether you’re a soccer player, nurse, dog lover or a boomer over 50, there’s a community or association out there for you. Find your niche, offer a unique service and enjoy access into an exclusive channel of targeted and grateful business links!
Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing agency focused on providing link building campaigns and link training and writes for the link building blog the Link Spiel. The Link Week column appears on Mondays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.