There are hundreds or maybe even thousands of social media websites out there. Of course, you’re not going to be able to use them all to market your website(s) or the sites of your clients. Because of the limited time that is available, you will need to choose a few social media sites to target.
The sites you choose to target will depend on what you are trying to market. What may be a great source of traffic and exposure for one purpose may not work at all for another. You’ll need to put some thought into which ones you target, and here are some things to look for:
1. A TARGETED AUDIENCE
A social media website can have a highly-targeted audience by either focusing solely on one specific niche, or by effectively using categories that help readers find content that will interest them. For example, Digg has a number of different categories. Each one of those categories could also be the subject of a niche social site that does not include content on any other topics. If you are choosing to use general news sites like Digg, Reddit, and Propeller, be sure that they have a specific category that your content will fit into.
2. TRAFFIC VOLUME POTENTIAL
The primary reason that most website owners and bloggers market with social media is the huge amount of potential traffic. However, the amount of possible traffic will vary greatly from one social media site to the next. Some smaller ones send very little traffic, even to the most popular submissions. Be sure to choose sites that meet your needs for traffic volume. Remember to consider the targeted audience and the volume of traffic together, as highly-targeted traffic is much more valuable than just any uninterested visitor.
3. RECOGNIZED AND USED BY READERS
If you have a group of readers already using a particular social media website, it only makes sense to target it. If the social media site is not currently used by readers they should at least recognize it if you are planning to use icons or voting buttons on your site. To find out what social media sites your readers use you can ask for comments on the issue, run a poll, email readers directly, or examine your stats to see where traffic is already coming from. If you want to target a site that many of your readers may not be using, you can always write about that site in one of your blog posts and encourage readers to start using it. This may not work for every blog depending on the audience and subject matter, but it can work for many.
4. ON THE RISE
Ideally, you’ll want to target social media sites that are growing in popularity, not decreasing. With new sites popping up constantly, there are plenty that are moving in a positive direction, and just as many that are moving in a negative direction. Being involved with a social media site takes time. Make sure that you’re time is not wasted by choosing a site that is falling out of popularity.
5. THE NEED FOR A STRONG PROFILE
With some social media sites, like Digg, the profile of the user who submits the content is extremely influential on the end result. Other sites are impacted very little by the profile of the submitter. If you are planning on targeting sites that require a strong profile, be sure that you are willing to spend the time to build your profile. My recommendation is to use a variety of sites on this issue, some that favor stronger profiles, and some that don’t favor any type of profile.
6. USED BY YOUR FRIENDS AND NETWORK
I already mentioned the value in knowing what social media sites your current readers are using, but it may also be helpful to know what sites your friends and contacts are using. It’s a pretty common practice to vote for friends and request that they vote for you as well, so using the same sites is important for this reason. Maybe you currently have no readers that use a particular social media site, but several friends that do. With their help you may be able to achieve success with some submissions and gain new readers from that audience.
7. LONG-TERM BENEFITS
While social media marketing is often practiced because of the immediate gratification that is involved, there should always be some lasting effects of any successful campaign. A few examples would be inbound links that result and bookmarks to the page that draw repeat traffic. Some sites are better at creating long-term value than others. Del.icio.us is one of my favorites for the reason. Popular items on Del.icio.us typically draw a lot of inbound links, and the bookmarks also increase the chances for repeat visitors as people return to their bookmarks.
8. MULTIPLE MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES
If you run multiple websites or if you use social media to market content for clients, you will probably want to be able to use specific sites over and over again for your different projects. Very specific niche sites will not always allow you to do this if you work in different industries. A site that does allow you to effectively market for multiple projects should be valued.
9. RULES OR UNWRITTEN RULES ABOUT SUBMITTING YOUR OWN CONTENT
If you plan to submit your own content you should learn a little bit about the culture of the social media site. Some have rules against doing this, and others have users that may not appreciate it even though it is within the rules. It’s just one more thing to consider.