In order to achieve success with social media marketing, a number of factors will have to come together. Of course, the content itself is critical, that’s a given. In this post I’ll take a look at several other factors that play a role in social media marketing.
Some websites and blogs are able to draw loads of social media traffic by being the first to break news. Sites like TechCrunch and Mashable are often seen on the front page of Digg and other social media sites because they get to the stories before the rest of us do. Unless you are a full-time blogger or a staff of bloggers, breaking news is incredibly difficult.
The rest of us have to rely on some type of idea to develop an item that is worthy of attention from social media users. In my opinion, the idea is probably more important than the content itself. A creative and unique idea can take you a long way with social media marketing.
Without an effective headline that will capture attention, great content can go unnoticed and unappreciated. Many of us spend so much time and give so much attention to creating the best content possible, and then quickly through together the first title that comes to mind.
The title on the post or the page is obviously important, but don’t overlook the importance of the title that is used when submitting the item to social media. If you’re submitting your own link you don’t necessarily have to use the title of the page as the title of the submission. If you think the audience would relate more to a slightly different title, take the liberty to make a change.
When a social media user arrives at your website or blog, he or she should be able to quickly look over the content and find the most relevant points. Very few social media users will take the time to read through an article word-for-word, so take this into consideration and make it easy for them to scan by using bold text, whitespace, headers and sub-headers, lists, etc.
Ideally, social media visitors will arrive at a page that is attractive. While they aren’t really voting based on appearance, the look of the page will have an impact on how they vote or if they vote. Users who find a well-designed page will be more likely to give the article a chance. An unattractive or slow-loading page can chase visitors away, even if the content is worthy of their attention.
Targeting the Audience
Not all social media audiences are the same. If you are pushing your article at a specific social media site, make sure that it is appropriate for that audience. A well-targeted audience will obviously be much more receptive to your submission and you’ll also have better long-term results, such as repeat traffic.
Do you encourage your visitors to vote for you at social media sites? Many blogs accomplish this by adding buttons or widgets to make voting quick and easy. Voting buttons may or may not be a good fit for your blog, but take the time to consider how your audience may respond to buttons/widgets and if they would help your chances of racking up votes.
If you are attempting to break news with your submission, timing is obviously important. Social media users aren’t going to vote for a story if they’ve already read the same news 3 times earlier in the day. Even if you are not breaking news, timing is critical. Most social media sites see less traffic over the weekend, so if you’re aiming for the highest amount of exposure, you’re better off targeting Monday through Thursday. Time of day can also be important in some situations. When I’m targeting Delicious I like to try to get to the front page early in the day (in the US), because the traffic received tends to be highest during the workday of the average American.
One of the most important things you can do as a social media marketer is develop a strong network of friends and contacts. I’m not talking about simply getting a huge number of people to add you as a friend. If there is no interaction between two users, simply being “friends” doesn’t really benefit anyone. Your network will be more likely to vote for you and you can also turn to them and request a vote when you need it. Additionally, you may have a friend that has a strong profile on a particular social media site that can help you out by submitting your content.
Some social media users vote for links simply because of the source. If you are a web designer or if you frequent technology sections at social media sites, you’re no doubt familiar with Smashing Magazine. While they do consistently provide very high quality content, sometimes I think that they could still attract a ton of social media votes and bookmarks with poor content just based on the reputation that they have built. Does your blog have a reputation or image in the eyes of social media users? If not, what can you do to get to that point?