July 22, 2014

Social Media Marketing FAQ

As more and more bloggers and website owners turn to social media as one of their major promotional methods, the need to understand Social Media Marketing becomes even more important. I put this post together in effort to help those who are new to social media, or those who simply want to get better results. If you have suggestions for questions that should be included, please leave a comment.

What is Social Media Marketing (SMM)?

SMM involves promoting content in various ways to social media users, in attempt to increase traffic and exposure. SMM can involve developing content that targets social media users, building a network of other users, requesting votes from others, and anything else that involves getting votes and traffic from social media websites.

What is the difference between SMM and Social Media Optimization?

The term Social Media Optimization usually doesn’t include the act of promoting content through such methods as requesting votes. SMO involves creating the right content and setting a website up to be friendly to social media users, but doesn’t go as far in terms of promoting the content.

Can I submit my own content to social media sites?

Almost all social media sites allow users to submit their own content. The bigger issue here is the reaction from the audience of the social media site and any unwritten rules that may exist. Digg users, for example, are known for not appreciating self submissions. StumbleUpon users often also look down on someone submitting or giving a thumbs up to their own content. Most smaller social media sites, including those that target a specific niche, have audiences that welcome self submissions.

How many social media sites should I use?

While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of social media sites out there, it’s impossible to use them all. Generally, it’s more effective to use a small number (I recommend 2 to 5) actively, and if you want to have accounts at other sites that you use ocassionally, that’s fine. Because part of being a successful social media user involves building a profile and a reputation at the site, it is much more realistic to achieve this when you’re using a small number of sites consistently. (See our categorized list of social media sites.)

Should I vote for someone else’s content when they send me a request?

Requesting votes is a common practice among social media users, and there’s likely to be a time when you want to request votes from others. Whether you request votes or vote for the suggestions of others is up to you, but be sure to treat others as you would like to be treated. If you expect others to vote for your requests, it’s a good idea to reciprocate. Of course, you should not vote for everything just because someone asks. Part of building a strong profile involves submitting and voting for quality content, not junk. When someone sends you a request for a vote, pay attention to the content and make your decision accordingly.

How can I use social media to build links?

There are basically two different ways to build links with social media. First, by submitting your content (or having someone else do it for you) you may be gaining a quality inbound link from the social media site itself. However, some social media sites use nofollow tags on links to discourage spam submissions. The second, and more effective, way to build links through social media is to develop excellent content that creates a lot of buzz with social media and will encourage other bloggers and website owners to link to you. Social media sites are an excellent platform for added exposure that will lead to more links.

Why does traffic from social media websites convert poorly?

Users of social media sites are generally arriving at your site just because they want to see what content is hot or popular with other users of the site. In most cases they have no interest in buying products or clicking on ads, that doesn’t fit into their purpose for using the social media site in the first place. Another factor is their attention span. Since social media sites provide such a high quantity of links and content, it’s very easy for social media users to leave your site and move on to the next option.

If social media traffic converts poorly, why is it worth my time?

If your intent is to directly sell products (or something similar) it probably is not worth your time. In this case there are other things you could be doing with your time that would likely create better results. However, in most cases social media marketing is worth your time because of the exposure, name recognition and branding opportunities that it presents. In addition, it doesn’t cost anything to promote content with social media (unless you hire someone for this purpose), and there are other benefits, such as increased search engine traffic through link building, and the opportunity to gain new subscribers.

Why do I need to add “friends”?

Many social media sites include a friends feature that allows users to connect. Social media is after all “social”, and building a network of other users and a stronger profile for yourself will lead to more influence. Many “power users” of social media get tons of votes for their submissions because they have so many friends, and those friends are more likely to see their submissions and to vote for them.

How can a network help me with social media marketing?

Other users who are a part of your network will be more likely to vote for your content or your submissions when they see them. People like helping others that they know and like, so being well-connected can lead to a lot of other users that are eager and willing to help you. Additionally, many social media users request votes for their submissions or for their content. In this case, having a large network of other users can lead to more votes.

Should I add those voting buttons/widgets to my website or blog?

Voting buttons and widgets can be effective, but they are also used in excess by some people. If you’re going to use voting buttons, stick to using just a few (one or two preferably) for the sites that you want to target the most. Using too many different buttons makes each of them less effective. They tend to drown each other out, and visitors don’t know which ones are most important for you. Giving less choices can lead to more success with those that you target, plus it results in a blog with less clutter.

What are niche social media sites?

Some social media site, such as Digg, include content that covers all different kinds of topics. These are general social news sites. Niche social media sites are create to showcase a specific type of content, rather than focusing on general news in all different kinds of categories. As a result, niche social media sites can result in visitors that are highly targeted and more likely to be interested in the content, although their audiences will be smaller than the major social news sites.

What are the biggest social media sites?

Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Yahoo Buzz, and Delicious are some of the leading major social media sites.

What are the best social media sites for newbies?

StumbleUpon is an excellent source of traffic for new blogs and websites because it doesn’t require a large network or a lot of votes to get decent results (see 7 Reaons StumbleUpon is a New Bloggers Best Friend). Niche social media sites are also a good place to start because they are generally easier to have success with as compared to major social media sites (many niche sites might only require 5 or so votes to become “popular”, while it may take 200 or more with Digg).

Is it ok to ask for social media votes?

Asking for votes is a very common practice, but there are some basic rules of etiquette that you should follow. First, only ask for votes if you’re open to receiving requests from others. Second, only ask for votes from people that you know, otherwise it will come off as being spam. Third, don’t over do it. Nobody wants to receive requests from the same person constantly. Fourth, only request votes on quality content. In my opinion, it’s best to “save” your requests for times when they will have significant impact. That way you’re more likely to get the votes when you request them, and you’ll have some control that will help to promote your best content.

How can I get started with social media?

the best thing to do is to be active. Pick a few sites that are well-suited to your interests or to the content that you want to promote, and be active everyday. Vote for others, leave comments, add friends, and submit content. For a more detailed look at the subject, I recently started a four-part series, 28 Days to Improved Results with Social Media.

How much traffic can I expect to get from social media?

The amount of traffic you can get is all over the place. You may get nothing, or you may get 100,000 plus visitors. Generally, major social media sites are capable of sending several thousand visitors, while smaller social media sites may send a few hundred or less. While this traffic is significant, it’s not the end of the story. Pages that draw a lot of inbound links are also likely to rank well in search engines, which can lead to tons of on-going traffic as well.

How much time should I spend on social media sites?

How much time you spend is up to you and what you want to accomplish. If you’re using social media primarily for fun and for connecting with others, there’s nothing wrong with being on these sites a lot. However, if your main purpose with social media is to promote a website or blog you should limit the time you spend. Other activities like content development and site management should not be sacrificed due to the time you spend on social media sites. Generally, you may need to use social media sites a little bit more at first in order to get familiar with the site, its users, and to build a profile. But later you should be able to cut back on the amount of time that you spend, but still be active on a regular basis.

There are so many different social media sites, how can I keep up?

You’ll never be able to keep up with all of them, so don’t try to. Instead, find a few that you like and that are well-suited to the type of content that you want to promote, and just focus on them. You may want to use other sites occasionally, but dedicate most of your time and effort with social media to a few specific sites. This way you’ll get better results with the sites that are most relevant, rather than spreading yourself too thin and getting poor results with all social media sites.

Are small social media sites worth the time?

Some are, some aren’t. There are some smaller social media sites, niche sites in particular, that have very strong and targeted audiences. Although the amount of exposure and traffic that you receive will be less than you could potentially receive from the major social media sites, it can still be a very valuable resource. Additionally, they’re easier to have success with than major social media sites, because there is less competition. Some social media sites, however, have such a small audience that it’s just not worth your time. If you’re getting items to the font page and only getting 10 visitors, it’s probably not worth the effort.

What can a social media consultant do for me?

There are a number of different things that a social media consultant can do for you. They may help you to develop an overall strategy for using social media to effectively promote your site. They may help you to determine what types of content you could use to target social media users that would be relevant to your site. They may actually write the content for you. And, they may also help with promoting the content and getting votes for you.

How long do the effects of social media last?

Most social media sites will send a surge of traffic that may last from a few hours to a few days. At that point the traffic will trickle away and things will be back to normal with a few days. StumbleUpon is the one notable exception here, as it tends to send traffic a little bit slower but will last longer. The indirect effect of social media success can last for a very long time if you’re able to use social media to build links and generate on-going search engine traffic. Another effect that can’t accurately be measured is the exposure that comes as a result of social media.

Why are Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization often mentioned together?

Many SEO experts also offer SMM services, and in most cases it is primarily for the purpose of link building. Search engine rankings are heavily influenced by inbound links, and one of the best ways to build links is to leverage social media.

How much of my content should target social media?

Many bloggers develop content with the specific purpose of targeting a social media audience, and this is a big part of improving your results. However, it’s generally not a good idea to publish all content with the purpose of generating traffic from social media. If you’re hoping to build a blog that will be successful long-term you’ll need to be able to satisfy your regular readers and subscribers. For more information, see Practical Tips for Targeting Social Media Users AND Satisfying Your Readers.

Why are the biggest and most popular blogs always on the front page of social media sites?

There’s no doubt that established blogs have a decided advantage over small blogs when it comes to social media. In some cases, all the largest blogs need to do is add a voting button to their pages, and with the amount of traffic they get it’s easy to rack up a lot of votes. Smaller blogs don’t have the existing audience to easily get votes from, so they have to rely on getting votes from their network, getting their posts submitted by influential users, funneling traffic from other sources, or any other way that they can get votes. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for small blogs to be successful, it just means that they have to be more resourceful. See the Small Blogger’s Guide to Social Media Marketing for a more detailed look at the subject.

Why does it matter who submits an item to a social media site?

Many social media sites, Digg in particular, place a great deal of weight in the profile of the submitter. if the user that is submitting an item has lots of friends and an established reputation, the item will almost always get more votes than it would if the average user submitted it. The item being submitted is benefiting from the strong profile that the user has developed over time.

Where can I learn more about Social Media Marketing?

One of the best things you can do is to subscribe to blogs that cover topics related to social media on a regular basis. A few weeks ago I posted 35+ Internet Marketing Blogs that are Worth Your Attention, and that list includes a section for blogs that focus on social media. You can also subscribe to Traffikd since social media is the focus here.

Should I specifically target social media users with my blog posts?

If your goal involves getting more traffic from social media, yes. Most blogs that do well with social media take this audience into consideration when they are developing content. As you use your favorite social media sites, pay attention to the types of content that draw the best results, and the titles that people are using to attract attention. There are a several different types of content that tend to work well with social media, including breaking news, controversial content, video, and resource lists. Content that is meant to appeal to social media users is much more likely to attract votes.

I’m submitting my posts everywhere. Why am I getting no traffic?

Most content is not well-suited to be submitted everywhere. Doing so can cause users of these sites to see your submissions as spam, and they’ll never achieve success this way. Rather than spending a lot of time submitting your content all over the place, spend that time developing the best content possible and building a strong presence at a few choice social media sites. Once this is accomplished you should have much better results.

How can I make money with social media?

Social media sites aren’t intended to be a money making opportunity for users. Instead, they exist to all users to connect and to share content that they think others will like. It is possible to make money indirectly through social media by leveraging social media to help you build a stronger, more successful website or blog. Additionally, you could offer some type of service that relates to social media, such as consulting.

Suggestions

What other questions do you think should be included?

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

35 comments

  1. I stopped using digg for quite a long time, since nearly no friends in China used digg.

  2. Very nice article and explanation. I’ll have to tweet this out!

  3. Thanks Jim!

    Young,
    I’ve never been a huge fan of Digg myself, but it does have tons of potential for marketers.

  4. Thanks for this condensed information on Social media marketing.

    This faq had some meat and i would like to add one point.

    when we talk about SEO we not only talk about in-site optimization (like meta tags, meta description tags, meta alt tags etc.) but SEO also include Off site optimization (like submitting to various social bookmarking services, adding valuable comments to other blog for the benefit of the readres etc.).

    And when we club these two, we say we are Social media marketing (SMM).

    I hope I was clear.

  5. This post is great, I learned lots from it, thank you sharing with us.

    I will share it on my networks!

  6. That covered more then I ever needed to know haha. Great article keep it up!

  7. Bikram,
    Yes, I agree that social media is much more than just on-page optimization. In my opinion most of the on-page optimization comes down to creating a search-friendly website in the first place.

  8. Steven

    you are absolutely right. on-page optimization are only about making the page search-engine friendly and as i believe intuitively (i don’t have any data to back my claim)that these days individuals go on social networking site more often than they go to any search engine and at this point Social Media marketing comes into play, as this gives more exposure to the website then will a mere on-page search engine optimization.

    And in my view off-page works are integral part of social media marketing. You have done a wonderful work by bringing this Social Media Marketing within the purview of through your FAQ article. Thanks a lot for that.

  9. Saw this post referenced over at Daily Blog Tips, nice job.

    Glad you emphasized that social media is first and foremost about connecting and not about making money. If you’re building relationships, interacting and contributing value to the conversation, you will naturally benefit in other ways.

  10. Great comprehensive article on social media. Has anyone submitted this to Digg yet? ;-)

  11. I also found your site through Daily Blog Tips. Thanks for this excellent post Steven – you explain really clearly and succinctly what Social Media Marketing is, which makes a pleasant change from some other ‘jargon-filled’ or over complicated posts I’ve read on the subject.

    People I work with on their internet marketing strategies can often need persuading about the benefits of SMM, and your post provides a great summary of why it’s important. I also like that you give links to lists of social media sites and social media sites as this provides really useful info in one place!

    Many thanks again – I’m adding you to my Google Reader now!

    All the best

    Tamsin/nudgeme

  12. nudgeme,
    Thanks for the comment and for subscribing!

  13. Well quite a bit of information here. some of the key points I agree it’s best to keep it to a few social media sites. StumbleUpon is one of my very favorite. Digg.com is not only over rated but they are prejudice against SEO so getting an SEO article to the Front page will prove to be next to impossible. Sphinn would be a better choice for SEO. While I have gotten front page on Digg for some submissions at the end of the day the return doesn’t seem worth the investment there.

  14. Nice Information about SMM. The best part i found difference between social media marketing and social media optimization.

    Regards

  15. To me the difference between SMO and SMM is not correct.

    SMO is optimization of content and spreading it through social media.

    SMM is using social media to promote stuff. Facebook ads are not SMO but SMM.

  16. This site was recommended to me from a friend. Thank you for your faq info. I’m looking forward to visiting more of your site.

  17. Tad,
    I’m not trying to say that Facebook ads are SMO.

  18. Thanks for the FAQ! I learn quite a lot :D

  19. Great discussion of common social media questions.

  20. Forum marketing should be understood well by any business person who wants to make his mark online and who wants to increase site traffic.

  21. I find the social media sites very time consuming and I question their value as a traffic source. But listening to the products pushed on the internet, the social sites are Nirvana. Go figure.

  22. I use social networks to build traffic and meet new people. Readers look over my blog posts and return to view more later. It is just a start, but social network marketing has been a big help to me. Thanks for the article.

    Joseph R.Mays

  23. Excellent post on Social Media Marketing & thanks for clearing the difference between SMM and SMO, I though they were same but now after reading your post it became clear that there is a big difference.

  24. Its Great post on SMM.I study your post its provides us good facts and knowledge
    thanks

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