I’m back for more live blogging of SMX Social Media. This session is all about social bookmarking and tagging. You can categorize and share information using things like De.licio.us, StumbleUpon, and Technorati. This panel includes Guillaume Bouchard of NVI, Michael Gray of Atlas Web Services, and Neil Patel of ACS.
Guillaume notes that you can leverage social networks. Once your story is on one, you may be able to use that to get to another. For instance, if your site is submitted to Digg, people might see it and bookmark it on Del.icio.us. He says things have gone way beyond just saving to favorites.
You can now share bookmarks with your networks. Sadly, most of these links are nofollowed, but by having your pages on these sites, you expose them to more people who might blog about them or otherwise link to them. You probably won’t get quite the traffic of social networking sites like Digg, but they are still worthwhile. These sites are used by traditional media, so using them can really pay off in that regard.
You should optimize tagging as much as possible. Research the popular tags and see what’s related to your industry. Del.icio.us and other social bookmarking sites index tags exactly as you type them. For instance, if you enter “buffy, bunnies,” that will be indexed exactly as that and not as two separate tags: buffy and bunnies.
Manual tagging is not unlike anchor text for links. Make sure you’re using tags based on the keywords you want to optimize for. Automatic tagging tends to be more black hat. You can do more widescale tagging in this way. It’s often not useful for people, but just for search engines. Tags can be misused for spamming and he notes that search marketers just might be aware of making things too noisy.
Now we’re looking at Technorati. You can tag blog posts and Technorati picks up on this. You can claim your blog on Technorati and can encourage people to make it a favorite. You can add a widget to your site that readers can use to favorite your blog. Technorati doesn’t drive tons of traffic. For instance, even the most popular blogs only have around 3,000 people who have favorited them in Technorati. But you can use Technorati to gauge if your blog’s popularity is gaining or slowing down.
Flickr uses tags as well. And the comment links aren’t nofollowed, so go links! You can, for instance, submit a Flickr photo to Digg and can have a link to your site in the comments. You can use the photostream on your blog and other nifty things, although I’m not sure how these things drive you links or traffic. It’s all about popularity though, and everything helps, I suppose.
YouTube can drive tons of traffic. You can share videos, embed the videos into your site, and link back to your site in the description.
Now we’re looking at some site called Facebook. I think I may have heard of it. You can create a widget or group to drive traffic back to your site. You might also check to see if any groups exist about your company, so you can get involved in the discussion.
Michael is up next. He’s here to talk about Del.icio.us. He notes that you can add as many tags as you want. You can see how many people have saved a particular page and what notes they may have added. It’s interesting to see how people save your page and what they say about it. You can also do research to see how people tag pages that are similar to yours, so you can target those terms. It’s low-tech keyword research. Use the tags that are used most often.
You can see when people have saved something, which can tell you who bookmarked a page first. This may help you identify early adopters or people who are particularly interested in your subject matter.
You can subscribe to specific tags, which can help you keep track of your industry, see upcoming stories, and see what other people are doing that’s working.
You can send your friends network links, although the Del.icio.us network may not be the fastest way to send things.
The Del.icio.us home page shows what’s hot. You can see the active tags, which can help you know what’s hot right now. The popular page is where it’s at though. That’s where you get the traffic. Unlike Digg, Del.icio.us has people on it other than young, American, tech males, so you can use it to reach more people.
You can search over Del.icio.us, which returns first the results of things you’ve bookmarked, followed by the results that have been bookmarked the most. When you tag something, you can see tags you’ve used before, what tags Del.icio.us recommends, and the popular tags that others are using.
So how can you use Del.icio.us to drive traffic? Write about things that people are interested in. Find those who are active in your niche and add them to your network. Add bookmarking widgets to your site to encourage your readers to tag your stuff. Pay close attention to your titles, since those who end up linking to you are likely to use that title as anchor text.
The popular page is updated every four hours. Time your stories at lower traffic times so you have a better chance of getting on the popular page. You can see how many people have tagged a story “recently,” which is within that four hour window. You can use that to see how many people have to bookmark a story to get to the popular page for that update period.
Be careful with gaming the system. Del.icio.us may ban your account or start discounting your bookmarks. And no one wants that.
Next up, Neil is going to talk about StumbleUpon. It’s apparently one of the most popular social networking sites around. The home page displays popular stuff, as does the buzz page. Over 3 million users are on StumbleUpon and it can drive lots of traffic. It doesn’t do as well with getting links as some of the other sites, but the traffic is not only great, but continues over time. [To step away from live blogging for a second, I can vouch for the StumbleUpon traffic. When I have had a page of my blog on StumbleUpon, I not only get a traffic surge, but I get residual traffic for a really long time.]
StumbleUpon also has older users, which means they actually are old enough to have credit cards and can buy things without asking their parents.
You have to install the StumbleUpon toolbar to make use of it. You can use the toolbar to submit something, vote it up or down, or browse through things people have “stumbled.” You can also send links to your friends.
Titles aren’t as important as with other social networking sites, since users are browsing directly to the pages. You do want to make use of the tags and topics though, since that’s how users navigate through. As with the other social networking sites, you can see what the popular tags are so you can tag your stuff based on what people are looking for.
Neil’s now telling us how to spam your friends with links to your Stumbled page that requires your friends vote for your page. And on that happy note, we’re on to questions.
Someone wants to know more about finding out who bookmarked your stories first. Michael says it’s a lot of research, but you can find really influential people who like your stuff that way.
How do you pick a username? Michael Gray says he registers company names just so no one else can register them, but he doesn’t use those for his active account. Neil says he’s incognito. I’m sure that’s just to avoid stalkers.
How do you leverage friends? Mostly it’s easy to send links. Guillaume said he and his friends sometimes have social days where they all are at home on separate IPs, working the system. This can help you be seen as having an active account and not someone who’s just gaming. Michael says the sites can detect bots. Neil says that you’re in it for the long term, so doing really shady stuff that works in the short term can cause you more trouble in the long run.
Why does StumbleUpon bring such long term traffic? It’s not time sensitive like Digg. Mostly people use the toolbar to browse through what they’re interested in. Michael likens using StumbleUpon to channel surfing. You need a picture or something else interesting to get users to stop on your page.
Use automated script to submit? Michael says to experiment with your neighbor’s open wifi, because your IP can get banned.
What about buying StumbleUpon submissions? Those are tagged as paid and users ignore them. Just use your friend network.
Michael thinks that it’s possible that Google pays attention to what people are surfing to via the Google toolbar and since those with a StumbleUpon toolbar are likely to have a Google toolbar as well, then even if users stumble right on by, Google will see that as a page view, and that can’t be bad. (I have no idea if I’m using this “Stumble” terminology properly, so just humor me here.)
What about B2B sites? Use a lot of this social networking stuff to get the links, but probably not so much for the traffic.
Michael also notes that some people import their Del.icio.us bookmarks into their blogs, and unlike on Del.icio.us itself, those links are not nofollowed (how’s that for a double negative), so they may count towards PageRank calculations.
How do you get friends? You have to spend the time building up your network. Reach out to influential bloggers. Use a consultant who already has a friends network. Or hire someone internally to spend their time building up social networking profiles for your business. Particularly for sites with limits on how many friends you can add–pick people who are active, not those who rarely log on.
Now we take a break while Danny tries StumbleUpon. He likes cats and search engines and StumbleUpon eerily seems to work and serves up exactly that. He critiques the lack of lolcat speak in the cat picture. Seriously. If you make a picture of a cat speaking, make sure it speaks like a cat. Otherwise, the cat riding a shark underwater won’t be seen as credible.
Do search engines use Del.icio.us data in ranking sites? After all Google Webmaster Tools lists those links. Well, the links are nofollowed, so they don’t count for PageRank credit. [Another live blogging step aside -- I have it on good authority that Webmaster Tools lists all links, whether they count for PageRank or not.] But search engines may use those links for discovery purposes. Guillaume thinks that popular links may be noted by the engines. In any case, all the panelists figure it can’t hurt.
How can large companies capitalize on social media? It may not work, but it’s worth a try, particularly since it’s so inexpensive. It’s hard to calculate ROI, but then again, it’s hard to justify brand advertising too. At least this is more measurable. You can measure if you are getting traffic, links, or search rankings boosts.
Should you use the same username across all accounts? And do these profiles rank on Google? Michael says totally use them for reputation management, but you might also want to use separate accounts if you’re planning to submit the same content across all sites. Neil uses the same username since he can use the reputation he’s gained on one site to get instant trust on the other sites. Use the same avatar and description so people can recognize you and follow you across sites. Guillaume echoes what Michael said in that if you are doing things that are shady, if you use the same username across all sites, you might lose them all at once.
Danny is now using a Google search for “Steve Rubel” and notes that he’s working social sites for reputation management and is dominating the SERPs. I feel compelled to link to my blog post about using social networking profiles for reputation management again. Hey, it’s relevant; not spam!
And on that drumming-up-links-of-my-own note, we’re on to the next session.