Social Media
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a long time now, but I just recently got incited to actually post about the delicate subject of Social Media, after Steven made a call to all bloggers to submit their Social Media articles. Before detailing the phenomenon that Social Media has become, I’ll first try to explain what it actually is.

Essentially, social media incorporates the online technology and methods through which people can share content, personal opinions, swap different perspectives and insights into world issues and generally discuss the evolution of media in itself.

Basically SM blurs the line between audience and media, I’d go as far saying it’s one of the most revolutionary things to happen to the internet; it’s the next big thing since traditional media first appeared with the first newspaper. Believe it or not SM has become a daily presence in our lives, everybody’s seen a video on YouTube at least once, most of us have a MySpace or Facebook page, own a Flickr account, or in this case read or even own a weblog. As far I’m concern Social Media revolves around the following major principles:

  1. User interactivity. This is SM’s most important feature and consists in providing the reader the ability to interact with other users, through commenting, voting etc. Any respectable website now employs means of user interaction and feedback, failing to do so will leave you plunged into the internet dark ages.
  2. No Locked Doors! Social Media promotes free speech, and democratized access to information; there is no censorship (as long as you don’t brake particular website rules).
  3. Conversation. SM is a two-way conversation; it puts you in direct touch with the content’s creator, your thoughtful opinion can actually make a difference and are often encouraged.
  4. Accurate Information. This is what Social Media strives for and sets it apart from traditional media; the fake info or unreliable info is presented to the reader it is quickly put down, weather it is a text, video or audio. You can’t do that with a newspaper, magazine, radio etc.
  5. Easy To Find. Just run a search on Google on a desire subject and you’ll be bombarded with a diverse array of information of all shapes and sizes.
  6. Linkage. Social Media has made our world a lot smaller, interlinks between posts and other websites is a common procedure in the web2.0. Thus a sense of connectivity is built; combinations of different medias are very common (i.e. a post detailing a event with a video, picture or podcast to accompany it.
  7. Community. People of similar interest were successfully centered and integrated into communities where they share their thoughts and experiences, thanks to the benefits of SM.

These would be the main characteristics of general Social Media, but as this is a blog about blogging let’s try to focus on how social media works in particular with blogs. A blog’s main propeller is it’s content, people will visit your blog to inform or entertain themselves because of just that and Social Media provides a mean on how to massively publicize your work. Imagine you’re running a antiques shop and a large TV station covers your business, does a story on it and broadcasts it, exposing you to a large number of viewers; thus increasing your awareness and expanding your clientèle. Social Media will basically do the same for your blog.

To do that what you have to do is create remarkable content, that is both helpful, easy to read and linkable; in short linkbait. Check out my step by step guide on how to build link bait for further info. If you do that you’re just one step away from SM goodness; you now need to get your work noticed and alert all social networks and bookmarks of your content.

This is where Social Media Marketing (SMM) comes in. SMM is the process of promoting ones content in various social media places, such as social networks and bookmarks, with the intent of gaining attention, links and obviously traffic. Steven Snell compiled, a while back, a list of 233 Social Networking Sites for Marketing Your Blog, that contains all the major websites you should target when trying to make a name for yourself in the SM world. As bloggers rely on their content for success, their main focus should be centered to social bookmarking websites. The system under which they work is very simple and is primarily composed of voting, the more votes you have the more people will get to see your blog. The most popular and best social bookmarks are:

There are a lot more, but the above websites provide the most traffic when hitting a popular post. In addition to getting exposed to a bunch load of people and gaining subscribers, you’ll be getting a lot of inbound links as well, that should add up pretty nicely. It’s generally proven if you hit the frontpage of Digg, you’ll get a few hundred, in some cases thousands of organic backlinks to your blog. Keep in mind that most people pay x,xxx$ or more on buying links to increase their SERPS (search engine results page) ranking and you’ll be getting better and more links for free!

Of course getting the front page of a major social bookmarking website, isn’t easy and requires a few hours a day researching trends, building relationships and profiles etc. Keeping that in mind I’ll be writing a guide to hitting the front page of Digg and Stumbleupon, the biggest social bookmarks, that should help most of you understand how their algorithms work and how to profit from them. Subscribe to my feed now, so you don’t miss these must read guides.

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