David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

Tips for better SEO (search engine optimization) and website marketing …

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Archive for the ‘bookmarking’ Category

Choosing the Best Social Sharing Platforms

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Which social platforms are worth adding to your activities, beyond the obvious?  Let’s look at this blog’s traffic as a case study.

Those who know me for a long time, know that I have had a reputation as social sharing addict, often seen at all the social bookmarking websites, large and small.  And people often ask me questions:

  • Is it worth it?
  • Do you get good traffic from them?
  • Do you get good SEO links?
  • Do you get customers?
  • Do you get engagement?

Everybody is after a different metric.  I plan to address only one of them directly.  But before I do, I should provide just a general response to these questions.

Yes, it is worth it, but you have decide how much effort to spend on social sharing and how much time on each site.

I suspect that SEO links are no longer much of an issue, except to the extent that you get traffic and engagement (and therefore links from blogs and news websites).

Choosing the best social sharing sites

I doubt I have gotten any customers directly from social sharing websites, but I know that I have earned myself clients as a result of networking on these sites.  A funny thing happens when you vote for and comment on and share somebody else’s labor of love – it opens up the doors to all sorts of valuable collaboration, including occasionally some new clients or subcontracting opportunities.  So engagement and traffic would be good metrics to help decide where it is worth spending your time.

In this post I will not rehash the relative value of being active on Twitter versus FaceBook versus Pinterest versus Google Plus versus LinkedIn.  At least 57 other bloggers are at this very moment rehashing those mysteries of the universe for you.  I won’t ignore them, but instead I want to share with you some of the other social websites that bring me traffic, either as stand-alone social communities or as sharing tools I use to extend my reach on the big social sites.

METHODLOGY

I like to add a “methodology” heading because it gives this blog post an air of scientific je ne sais quoi.  Truth be told, the methodology is simply that I have looked at my Google Analytics traffic sources so far in 2014 for this blog, for another business blog, and for a “simple lifestyle” blog that covers self-help, personal finance, health and fitness, and entertainment.

Here are the social sharing websites that have sent the most traffic to this blog, among the top 20 referral sources over the almost 5 months so far this year, in descending order (with my comments):

Twitter (No surprise, as Twitter is the ultimate link-sharing platform and I am very active there. This is my account.)

Viral Content Buzz (Wow!  This is a platform I use to extend my reach on Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.  But the direct referrals alone are worth being active there.)

Google Plus (I am very active on Google Plus, especially in the communities, where I find engagement to be fairly strong. This is my account.)

FaceBook (No surprise)

Blokube (Big surprise!  Older and more established than DoSplash, Klinkk and Kingged, I nevertheless would never have expected Blokube to outpace BizSugar, Pinterest and Triberr, especially since I am more active on all of those platforms.  Clearly I need to pay much more attention to Blokube.)

BizSugar (Small surprise.  I love BizSugar and I am active there, although not quite as active as I would like to be.  Yet it is sending almost as much traffic as Pinterest and Triberr combined!)

Pinterest (Considering the effort I put into creating highly pinnable pics, I am somewhat disappointed that Pinterest is not proving a better source of traffic.  I suppose if I ran an Etsy store…)

Triberr (Like Viral Content Buzz, this is a platform I use to extend my reach on Twitter, and  have found it also a great venue for forging relationships with other bloggers.  I would rank it quite highly for engagement.)

JustRetweet (Another platform I use to extend my reach on Twitter, and to some degree FaceBook and Google Plus, and again worth using also for the direct traffic.)

Scoop It (Content curation platform, and obviously I am getting some traffic from it.)

Gentlemint (One of four “male” answers to the female-dominated Pinterest, it is sending me more traffic than Manteresting, Dudepins and DartItUp)

Kingged (One of the newest social sharing communities, probably with the narrowest range of topics – just internet marketing – but with the most engaging users, both on the site and in comments on this blog.  If your blog fits this niche, it is worth the time and effort.)

DoSplash (Similar to Blokube and Kingged, fairly new and with a slightly wider set of niches.)

I won’t run through the same details with the other two blogs, but I will offer a few outstanding observations from their referral stats.

First, I should note that if a post or two goes hot on StumbleUpon or Reddit, it can dwarf all other social platforms, as traffic takes a ridiculous spike for 24-48 hours.  On the other hand, it can really mess with your bounce rate and time-on-page stats. I shall ignore those aberrations.

Secondly, considering the niches of the other two blogs, you won’t be surprised to hear that I get much less traffic from the likes of Blokube, BizSugar, Kingged and DoSplash.  But in their place, Gentlemint figures much more prominently, in one case ahead even of FaceBook, Pinterest and Google Plus (Wow!).  Three others also featured: Snapzu (quite strongly), Social Buzz Club (moderately) and Manteresting (barely).

If part of your marketing strategy is to reach out to other bloggers, to collaborate more, to extend your reach on the major social sharing platforms and to build a well-engaged following, this should give you an idea of which venues would be worth your effort.  Of course, your results might not be the same as mine; nothing is more accurate than your own results by trial and error.  This guide is meant strictly to help you make the best educated guesses as to where to start or expand.

 

 

 


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REVIEW: Comparing Social-sharing Co-op Services

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I have been using three popular social sharing co-op services for a while now.  These help spread your content across social networks like Twitter and FaceBook.

The three services are quite similar in some ways and different in other ways.  If you are like me, you will want to use all three.  But if you are too busy for that, this review will help you decide which to use.

The three websites we are reviewing are…

How these social sharing co-ops are similar

I call these three websites “co-op” because of the fundamental basis on which they all function: you share other member links, you earn credits…which are spent when somebody shares your links and earns your credits back.  The more you share of others, the more others will share of yours.  And the corollary…the more you want your links shared, the more you need to share of others.

The other major theme in common between these websites is that you are in charge.  You get to choose what to share on your social media account.  Nobody tells you what to share.  Nobody pressures you into sharing anything in particular.  No selections are automated. You decide what is appropriate and of interest for your followers.

When it comes to social media accounts, what the three services have in common is Twitter.  All three of them are built on the basis that people share each others’ content via Twitter.  But that is where the similarity ends.

How these social sharing co-ops differ

Easy Retweet lets you tweet and sign up new Twitter followers.

Viral Content Buzz and Just Retweet also let you share by FaceBook – but with a difference.  Viral Buzz lets you “share” on FaceBook, in your timeline.  Just Retweet lets you “like” on FaceBook.

Viral Buzz also lets you share on Pinterest – the only service that does.

Just Retweet lets you upvote on Google Plus – the only service that does.

The three services offer different levels of “quality”.  I use the word judiciously, since you might not necessarily want “quality”.  I will explain later.  First, let’s look at what each service officially says about quality, and then I will tell you what really happens at each service.

Here is what Easy Retweet says about “Tweet Contents”:

Any tweets containing pornography (in any form), illegal materials, unauthorised materials, materials in violation of any law will be removed as soon as noticed.

Here is what Just Retweet says in its “Terms and Conditions”:

JustRetweet reserves the right to remove any content posting (text, images, audio, video) for any reason, without notice at any time. Specifically, any posted content that: (1) is pornographic or offensive in nature (including nudity, violence, sexual acts, or sexually provocative images.); (2) infringes upon copyrights as specified by the content creator; (3) is illegal or violates any laws; (4) harasses (also known as “CyberBullying”) any person or any group of people. Such content posts will immediately be deleted and the IP address of the user reported to authorities, if necessary. Violating these terms will result in the irrevocable termination of your ability to use the JustRetweet service.

But on the Just Retweetrules” page, in red text that really stands out…

Here is what Viral Content Buzz Quality Guidelines have to say:

What will NOT be approved to be shared here:

  • Weak-in-content articles (that have no unique style or visual appeal);
  • Ad-stuffed and / or made-for-links articles.
  • Articles directly promoting affiliate products (such as affiliate product review posts)
  • Any sales page directly promoting a product or service
  • Content that is overly promotional in nature
  • Press releases
  • A home page of a business website or blog
  • Anything that the VCB staff in their discretion deems to not be “quality”

What will be highly appreciated here:

  • Unique and original articles that catch an eye and engage;
  • Trending and popular topics with your personal perspective (apps, tools, DIY, infographics, etc).
  • Articles or content that is either extremely useful, interesting or entertaining.

Viral content is defined as “becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person to person, especially through the Internet“, so before adding a project, please give it a thought: “can it go viral”?

Our platform is NOT designed to help everyone get free social media votes. It’s aimed at generating buzz around GREAT content.

You can probably tell just by the length of the rules how serious each service is about ensuring quality and blocking spamminess.  In fact, here is what I have found:

Easy Retweet is full of spammy share requests.  Many things there I would not retweet because they are ads for things like BlogEngage or Fiverr gigs or ecommerce pages.  But there is also some good stuff, and I usually can find plenty to share.

Just Retweet is mostly real content, but there are some sales pages and other business pages that get snuck in.

Viral Content Buzz has been spam-free so far, true to their very detailed quality guidelines…except for Pinterest shares.  As you may know, Pinterest is an image-sharing platform.  But many Pinterest-sharing requests on Viral Content Buzz are for really, really poor images that are totally unworthy of sharing.  Obviously, many people just don’t “get it”. Maybe there needs to be some pop-up “image quality reminder” or something.

To spam or not to spam?

At first blush, it is pretty obvious where people would want to go: to the high-quality, no-spam service.  Especially bloggers who generally share very high quality content to begin with. And there are some benefits, like not having to wade through do as much triage.

But you probably will still want to do some triage.  Not every blog post or Infographic posted is one you will want to retweet to your followers.

And what happens if you want to promote a sales page.  Sure, it’s spammy – but it’s the sales pages that pay the bills.  They need to be promoted, too.  So there is also value in participating in a service where spammy pages aren’t considered spam.  And that’s the point of Easy Retweet – to cater to the Warrior Forum crowd.

On a final note, what is missing is StumbleUpon.  None of the services offer StumbleUpon sharing or thumbs up as an option.  Yet.

 
 

 


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2011 Social Media Fail of the Year

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Most posts that bestow a title like this focus on the biggest company that made the most visible boo-boo, like FaceBook or Twitter or Digg or StumbleUpon. But this post focuses instead on the social media site that put the biggest stick of dynamite under its own mission and went…

Because this is a long post, let me tell you what you will read here. You will read a rant, and you will read some advice that you can use in your social media strategy – what you can learn from the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year. And if you don’t heed the advice, the rant might just become your own in 2012.

Without further ado, the winner of the the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year award is… BlogEngage. The founder, owner and nanny of this social bookmarking website has frequently made clear that his goal for the site is to build community. Let’s see how well he has done that – and what it means to you and your blog.

My Story (and rant!)

Until two days ago, I was the #3 “top user” of BlogEngage.

Why did I leave BlogEnage so suddenly?

Because my account disappeared. At first, I thought it was a terrible programming error. I had seen this before. So I quickly sent a Skype message to Brian Belfitt, the aforementioned founder, owner and nanny.

No response.

I tried direct messaging him on Twitter.

No response.

Then I noticed something strange on Skype. Brian’s avatar was no longer showing on his profile. And his location was now reading: “This person has not shared their details with you.”

I tried direct messaging him on Twitter again.

No response.

Have you any idea how much work, how much community-building it takes to be the #3 user at a site like that over a period of a year?

  • How many submissions? Not just of my own posts, but of other blogs I had no “interest” in?
  • How many votes? Not just of my “friends” but of other intriguing stories?
  • How many comments?
  • How much reaching out and interacting to promote what I had submitted?
  • How many new members I had recruited for the website?

Do I still think it is worthwhile for you to invest all this time and effort in social bookmarking websites? Read on, as I have some solid, well-grounded advice for you on this point. But first, some background.

It was dawning on me that my account, and two others I noticed (at least one of which showed up in the “top users” widget of the site), had been purposefully deleted by Brian. Why? The most recent time we had communicated, he had told me that I was conducting myself as a model member of his community. I was totally puzzled.

The next morning, I discovered a blog post on the site: http://www.blogengage.com/blogger/take-your-time-and-make-your-votes-count/ . Yes, he had purposely removed a number of accounts in what appears to be a fit of frustration at how the community was conducting itself in a way different than his intention of how they should interact.

I waited for most of the day for some answer from Brian to messages I had sent now through three separate channels. Those who have been around social bookmarking for a while don’t expect explanations. For instance…

  • The most open secret on the Internet is how Reddit will disable your account for no reason, while making it still appear to you that your account is active. There is even a name for them: “Zombie accounts”.
  • Digg used to be famous for banning accounts for good reason and for no reason until about a year ago when Digg V4 was launched, and now the second-most open secret on the Internet is how Digg won’t even ban people anymore for setting up duplicate accounts.
  • And Newsvine says they will respond to you. They don’t.

But a small gated community (Yes, I’ll explain that later)? Where you are on a first-name basis with the sole proprietor? Who is your follower on Twitter? Who you Skype with? Who you email with? Would he really just delete his Top User #3 from his site with no warning? No explanation? In the words of Shania Twain, “You must be joking, right?”

Finally, not getting a response from Brian directly, I posted a comment on his blog. And in the five minutes between posting my comment and when it was removed, I grabbed this screenshot:

Yes, the message is slightly provocative, although I assure you it was VERY restrained. In fairness to me, imagine how I felt at having a year’s worth of work just wiped out by an erratic webmaster. And in fairness to Brian for removing my comment, if you had just done something this “special”, you would not appreciate having it pointed out to you on your own blog.

Three Reasons for Earning the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year Award

Is deleting my account, and several others, what earns BlogEngage the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year on its own? No. It is just the fourth of four blunders that self-sabotaged the site’s social mission.

FAIL #1. The first was the famous RSS submission service (I believe this was actually in 2010, but it needs to be included as part of the pattern). I must say, this is a really cool tool and I had favourably reviewed it. Basically, subscribers have their blog posts automatically submitted to BlogEngage as they are published. They get an extra vote out of the deal, as well as removing the drudgery of submission. For people who have several daily blogs, this is very worthwhile.

Unfortunately, many people using this subscription are pure spammers, who use the service for hit and run bookmarking. They let the automated system handle the submissions and they don’t build the community.

  • They don’t come back to vote for others’ submissions.
  • They don’t comment on others’ submissions.
  • They don’t ask others for support – votes, comments, etc.

These are all three vital aspects of a “community” on a social bookmarking website.

Not all RSS subscribers are hit-and-run spammers. But most of the spammers you see today on BlogEnage appear to be RSS subscribers. They pay for the privilege to spam the site.

FAIL #2. The second was when Brian started charging for memberships. Don’t get me wrong, the site belongs to Brian and he has the right to do whenever he wants with it. And if he can find a way to make a living running it, God bless him. I also run a social bookmarking website for Canadians. I would love to make a living doing just that, so I can 100% understand his motivation.

However, Digg is free. Reddit is free. StumbleUpon is free. They are all free sites that bring huge value to users and lots of traffic to submitted pages. And because they are free, they attract more users to view the submitted pages. By creating a gated community, BlogEngage reduced the value of belonging to that community. When recently discussing Blogengage in a few of my mastermind groups, one person summarized:

This is just Hilarious! I am not a “member” of BE….never submitted or voting for anything as I really don’t see much value from BE (no traffic, low PR, no direct Home Page link) but just need to point out the hypocrisy of this “community” as most users are afraid their accounts would get banned.

FAIL #3. The third was when Brian decided to charge $200 for a special promotion package that included automatic publishing to the home page – by-passing the community entirely. No need to attract votes. No need to attract comments. No need to actually participate in the community. Pass Go, pay $200. Again, if Brian can get enough people to pony up and he can quit his day job, more power to him. It is his site. But again, this is not about building community; it is about by-passing community.

FAIL #4. Booting out some of your top users, for…for…for what? I can only surmise from the words and tone of his blog post that we were not building community in the fashion that the owner wanted us to. There was no mention of any terms-of-service violations. On most social bookmarking websites, they remove your account for submitting and promoting your own websites. On BlogEngage, I was one of the few who regularly submitted posts that I did not have an “interest” in, as well as those that I did.

By removing several quality members, BlogEngage has left the site a little poorer. As one of the others who was also deleted mentioned to me, referring to a letter he had received from BlogEngage not long ago: ”

The funny thing is that he said that our submissions were poor quality… most of our subs were way beyond the regular stuff over BE like ‘win $50 blogging contests’. Or post #465 on why CommentLuv is so great. Or win BE RSS subscription. “Affordable Web Hosting: Hostgator – Go ‘Gators!”

So once again, BlogEngage seems to be bypassing community to impose its own vision of exactly how people should interact with each other. Social media, or social engineering?

And by arbitrarily deleting accounts, BlogEnage makes it less worthwhile for members to waste time in building the community. As one person in another of my mastermind groups puts is, “True. Why should I just keep plugging away so that he can kill my account a few months down the road?” (I am still puzzled, though, with how we traveled with lightening speed from assertions that I was a model community member to deleting my account.)

Advice for Social Bookmarking Users

At this point, you might expect me to say “Don’t waste your time with social bookmarking, especially not BlogEngage.” Well, no on both counts.

I had written a very popular post on Who owns your Twitter account, the tweeter or his/her company? Spoiler alert: the answer is Twitter.

Lesson One from my rant above is that when you invest in a social bookmarking or social sharing website, you are investing in somebody else’s website. Don’t forget that.

What advice would I give current BlogEngage members?

1. Keep submitting your content. Yes, it could still get deleted at any time, but that happens all the time on the Internet. Your press release on a press release website can be refused. If the site is sold or shut down, your release is gone with it. Your comments on any blog disappear when the blogger sells the domain or shuts down. All my submissions at Mixx and Propeller disappeared when those sites shut down. These are still great ways to share content, build links, network and generally promote your website. Do it anyway. It is unlikely that Brian will delete every active user’s account.

2. Don’t invest in the community. Yes, Brian says that is what he wants you to do, but when your account can so arbitrarily be deleted, it is just not worth wasting your time. Invest in your own submissions, that’s it.

What advice would I give non BlogEngage members?

Don’t join. Digg is free. My Zoomit is free. Fwisp is free. HealthBuzzing is free. BizSugar is free. Blokube is free. NewsMeBack is free. Tipd is free. BlogInteract is free. Cloudytags is free. All of them are great social bookmarking sites. If everyone charged, it would be different, but why on earth would you pay for less value and more risk?

What general advice about social bookmarking?

Social bookmarking is still absolutely A.W.E.S.O.M.E. – a great way to spread your content around the web, to be active and visible, to build quality links directly and through other bloggers and website owners and social media lovers that see your content. If your content sucks, social bookmarking is not all that useful. But if you have great content on your website, go for it!

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I have already shaken off this minor setback. Most people are both good and stable, and most social bookmarking venues, micro-blogging sites and blogs are amazing places to interact with others on the Internet. Good for traffic. Good for SEO. Good for networking. Good for building a reputation. Good. Good. Good.

And most will never vie for the coveted Social Media Fail of the Year award.

 


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Social Media Coups and Bombs

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I participated on a panel in a blog post by Geoff Cudd on 8 Sneaky Social Media Tricks: Are They Worth Your Time? The views intrigued me, so I decided to do a follow-up and ask the same people (and a few more) the following two questions:

1. What is the most amazing social media coup you ever did, or have ever seen done?
2. What is the dumbest social media fail you have ever done, or have ever seen done?

Some of them responded, but not everybody has had either a major disaster or a smash success with social media. Like so many other things, social media is a great communications tool that yields results over time based on hundreds and thousands of interactions, one at a time and incrementally over time. But there were a few coups to report and there were a few lessons to be learned, so here are what they shared with us.

 

 

FROM Geoff Cudd of Don’t Do It Yourself

COUP: I’ve never been a big Twitter fan and had always seen it as the equivalent of walking around a park with a megaphone telling random strangers about how wonderful you are. But a year ago, I changed my opinion when I stumbled upon a new business partner by exchanging tweets. In under 140 characters we managed to identify that we had complimentary services and setup a time to discuss partnering. We hit it off and developed a very beneficial partnership.

Lesson: Don’t ignore innocuous tweets. They could result in long term partners!

BOMB: In one of my ventures I actually had a product development team working for an entire year creating a toolbar application that would allow you to share web-based sticky notes through social media (similar to Evernote). The concept was great, but we spent all our energy focusing on the product and not the social media relationships that would be required to give it that initial boost of traffic to spread adoption. Before you know it, we had very few users and we ran out of time and capital. We had to give up and turn our efforts towards other guaranteed-revenue related activities.

Lesson: For a social media product, you’ve got to plan out your marketing strategy early in the product lifecycle and get user input as soon as possible. I won’t share any numbers, but I’m willing to guess that I have the title for one of the more expensive mistakes on this panel!

FROM Andy Boyd of Money Release

COUP: One of the best I’ve done so far was an infographic for an ink cartridges company. As you can imagine, ink cartridges is a bland product that very few people, if anyone is actively interested in. This meant that I had to do something out of the ordinary in order to have a hope of getting some traction. So I came up with the idea of printing out the internet, and how much ink and paper it would take to do so. I am an avid documentary geek, with a particular interest in programs like Discovery’s Extreme Engineering where they often use animated graphics to visualise the scale of a project, e.g. this building is equivalent to the height of 10 Statue of Liberty’s, or there’s enough cable in this aircraft to wrap around the world twice. In the end we came up with a really cool looking infographic packed full of factoids about printing the internet.

Shortly after it launched, it went viral. Really viral. Thousands of people tweeted it. It was picked up by lots of the top blogs and hundreds of smaller publishers. Hundreds of thousands of people viewed that infographic. And to the best of my knowledge, it’s still getting links today.

BOMB: I haven’t had a campaign backfire, but like any social marketer I’ve had my fair share of flops. That’s the thing with marketing content – you never really know if it will work. Back at the time when getting promoted on Digg actually mattered, I used to spend a lot of time on there promoting my work. When Digg was at it’s prime, it was probably one of the most exciting times to be a social marketer. You could launch a linkbait, watch it hit the front page, hope your servers will stay up and just wait for the links to roll in. The problem was that you could push something for 24 hours, only for it to be buried at the very last minute just when you thought it was going to be promoted. When that happened, and it happens a lot when you’re promoting content on a commercial website, it s probably the single most demoralising thing about being a social marketer.

FROM Emory Rowland of Clickfire

COUP: What comes to my mind is an accidental coup that my friend, the owner of a conservative political blog and myself, the webmaster discovered back in 2008 that helped me truly grasp the nature and power of social media. Someone had discovered an interesting blog post that my friend had made (more about this later) and submitted it to StumbleUpon. Of course, I wouldn’t have noticed it but for the sudden influx of visitors the site began receiving in the tens of thousands that continued for about 2 months. Here are some specifics:

  • StumbleUpon sent around 42,000 visits and listing 46 user reviews.
  • For the year, StumbleUpon ended up sending three times the traffic that Google sent (the site ranked for the head term, “liberals”).
  • My friend received offers to appear on a Sirius XM Radio show and a Pajamas Media TV show.

From that day forward, I took StumbleUpon seriously to say the least. But, the funny part is that this social media marketing victory pretty much violated every SEO rule in the book.

  • The post was not submitted or promoted by anyone affiliated with the site. It spread naturally.
  • There was no onsite or offsite SEO strategy or measures taken other than the default SEO-friendliness of WordPress.
  • The post title contained a blatant misspelled word.
  • The post was only 180 words in length.
  • The post constituted duplicate content. It turned out to be a meme appearing on many other sites.

BOMB: Let me make it clear that I did not actually do this, but seriously thought about dressing up as Matt Cutts for Halloween.

FROM Hesham Zebida of Famous Bloggers

COUP: My best Social Media coup started with organizing blog contests, entries in the contests usually receive high tweet rates as participants compete with each others to collect more points during the promotion period to win the blog contest, which means a huge exposure for my blog.

BOMB: My big fail and the most silly idea I ever had was when I decided to start an underground twitter exchange network, it’s the worst idea ever.

FROM Tom Drake of Canadian Finance Blog

COUP: My biggest social media coup was working my way up to top domain on Tip’d. I had been blogging for about a year before I really got into using Tip’d. So I had quite a few old posts that I would submit on the weekend and hustle on twitter to get votes, often just needing 4-5 votes to get published to the front page. Being the top domain might be more than just bragging rights, since many users now give me votes without as much begging involved.

BOMB: My biggest social media fail was trying to use Reddit for the first time and getting labeled as a spammer almost immediately. I thought I was submitting my posts, but I’d click on “text” thinking I was leaving a description, but apparently this took out my links and made it look like some very random statements being made by a bot.

FROM Miranda Marquit of Planting Money Seeds

BOMB: We had a custom infographic made for Moolanomy. It hit the front page on Digg, back when Digg was cool, and it exploded elsewhere. It ended up with tons of comments, and thousands of views. It was back when infographics were just becoming the big thing, and it really emphasized the importance of being a little ahead of the curve. Plus, it was a somewhat controversial topic (buying vs. renting), and the infographic left out a few things. Actually, it might have been the fact that the graphic left out some things that generated so much buzz and conversation. It was valuable insight that sometimes you can get a lot of a traffic when people see something “wrong.”

FROM Tom Shivers of Capture Commerce

COUP: Papa John’s conducted Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenge the summer of 2010 and the findings were very interesting. Consumers were asked to create and submit recipes for interesting new pizzas.

A panel of qualified judges selected ten semi-finalists based on overall appeal, taste, creativity of the name, and interest of the story. The judges then selected three finalists from the semi-finalists. The top three pizzas were put on the regular menu and finalists had one month to hustle up sales of their pizza creations, each was given $1000 to promote their pizza. The top selling pizza won a cut of the sales up to a maximum of $10,000 plus $480 of Papa John’s pizza each year for 50 years.

Interestingly, the pizza that got the most Facebook “likes” did not win. “Papa John’s Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu for Gulf Coast Animals” by Barbara Hyman, started out ahead of the other two pizza contestants and never relinquished that position during the entire month, selling about 108,000 pizzas, or 45% of the contestant pizzas sold.

Papa John’s VP of digital marketing said Hyman’s pizza had two powerful hooks: the Cordon Bleu name was familiar and easy to remember, and her cause was framed as a way to help animals harmed by the BP oil spill, a timely and emotional pull.

Hyman made alliances with other businesses who helped her promote the pizza and pledged to match her charity donation if she won. She said, “People didn’t seem to care about the money I could win, but their interest peaked when I talked about helping wild life covered with oil.”

Six lessons from Papa John’s about crowdsourcing product creation:

  • Challenge customers to win a product creation contest by providing motivating incentives
  • Utilize objective criteria and judges to select the finalists
  • Give finalists marketing tools and resources to promote their product creation
  • Gauge success by product sales and not by any other kind of criteria, like voting
  • Promotions that involve donations to charity or a good cause can easily win out over promotions that focus on the contest itself
  • Contests promoted with social media creates audience engagement for the business

Read more: Crowdsourcing + R&D = Winning Product Design

BOMB: A couple years ago I decided to utilize mommy bloggers to promote a line of rocking horses. I interviewed several and decided on one because she had a big promotion coming up for Mother’s Day weekend and my rocking horse would be the grand prize of all the giveaways going on. Basically contestants could get more entries by tweeting, liking, linking to the website and sharing the contest with friends. At the end the winner of the rocking horse would be chosen by random number.

I sent one rocking horse to the mommy blogger so she could review it; another rocking horse would be sent to the winner of the contest.

Hundreds of people entered the contest and it was interesting to watch the tweets and likes fly, but at the end of the day the site didn’t get many links or as much publicity as I had hoped.

  • Although I did get some nice things out of the promotion, I also learned some lessons:
  • Mommy blogger contestants are in it for the free prizes and that’s about it.
  • Be careful if your product is a much higher value than most of the items that are being promoted on the mommy blogger’s site.
  • Contests won by random do not tend to engage contestants with the brand during or after the contest is over.
  • The mommy blogger did link to the site but it was a bit excessive, meaning it was sorta obvious I had asked for links (Google probably ignored most of them).

FROM David Leonhardt (that’s me) of SEO writer

I know you are curious to know what my biggest coups and bombs were. The reality is that my coups have mostly been in the realm of sustained success, one small step at a time, getting my content and client content to “pop” on social bookmarking websites week after week after week after week. Likewise, my bombs have been incremental, getting banned at Reddit (presumably for submitting some posts that were self-promotional), at the former Propeller (for who knows why?), at the former Shoutwire (for who knows why?), at the Newsvine (possibly for trying to join too many groups at once?) and at Digg (for who knows why?).

But if I was to name one coup and one bomb, it would be the same: creating Zoomit Canada. It was a coup because running one’s own social bookmarking website brings so many social media advantages, making you a bit of a leader and opening plenty of networking doors. It was a bomb because I never did manage to attract anywhere near the kind of attention to make it what it was meant to be (but there is still time for that, hopefully).

I hope you have learned some valuable tips from the coups and bombs we have shared here today. Please feel free to share your own in the comments section below.

 


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Dimbler for Content Promotion

Friday, May 6th, 2011

If you are not using Dimbler to promote your content, you should be. This is a simple, scrappy little tool that will help you promote your blog posts, articles, videos – whatever content you create, through…

  • FaceBook
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg

The concept is very easy to grasp. It’s based on the age-old principle of “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” It is even easier to use, with a simple two-step process.

  1. Post your request.
  2. Respond to your friends’ request.

Setting up Dimbler

Before you can use Dimbler, you do need to sign up for a free account. That’s as simple as it is anywhere.

And you will need to have some friends. I suggest that you click on the “Recent” tab and add those people who you see have recently been active. In most cases, they will friend you back. You can see anybody’s stats quite easily; for example, here are mine: http://dimbler.com/user/amabaie

You might also invite friends who already support your submissions sometimes. Why bother if you already support each other? Well, with one posting you can have several friends give you a boost in four social sites, rather than having to send several Twitter Direct Messages (for example) for just one of those social sites.

Using Dimbler

Once you are set up, you are ready to go. The posting form at the “Submit” tab is simple, as you see here in this screenshot:

The fields are all pretty self-explanatory. You don’t need to fill them all in. If you want help only with Digg and Twitter, you don’t need to fill in the StumbleUpon field, for example. A number of people don’t ask for FaceBook likes.

Once you have made your request, go to the “Following” tab to see what your friends have posted. You just click on each link to support them

Drawbacks of Dimbler

Are there any drawbacks to this tool? Not really, but there are a couple weaknesses .

The first is that too few people are using it. The value of Dimbler is that it saves time: One posting leads to several people supporting. If you have ten active friends, it is more useful than if you have five. Twenty is better than ten.

At the time of writing, I have 26 friends, but only a handful are active.

The other weakness is that some people post Tweet requests that don’t include a URL or an RT account. If they don’t include a URL, what’s the point? And if they don’t include an RT account, am I really willing to tweet their content as if it was mine? This has been less of an issue of late; I think the Example: RT @twitterusername Article Title – http://su.pr/1234 you see in the form above was added and cut down on malformed tweet requests.  Or it might be that those people doing it wrong were not getting results and just left.

In summary, Dimbler is a very handy tool for promoting your website’s content across a the top four social sharing platforms. If you decide to join, please feel free to friend me at http://dimbler.com/user/amabaie and we will share some great content together.

 


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REVIEW: Blog Engage RSS Subscription Service

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Each social bookmarking website distinguishes itself in some way. OK, so that’s not totally true, but most of the good ones do. Brian over at BlogEngage has built on something original to that platform, an optional program called the Blog Engage RSS Subscription Service. The banner ads, like the one below, bill it as an “Adsense Sharing Program”.

 

Memberships, RSS, Blog Engage

However, I am not going to review the Adsense aspect of it, but some of the other benefits, for several reasons.

  • I think there are several much more exciting aspects to the program.
  • As you know, I am not really one of the monetization folks – best leave that aspect to someone who is, like Justin Germino
  • I haven’t tested the program long enough to have much to comment on the Adsense aspect.

The Blog Engage RSS Subscription Service is optional

Let it be noted that the service is optional. Of the 2000-plus active users of BlogEngage, I would guess that a few dozen have signed up for the service. BlogEngage is one of the best social bookmarking websites, in my opinion, and was just recently promoted to top line at The Bookmarketer .

The service does cost money. It is not expensive, but some bloggers are counting their revenues in the cents-per-week range, and obviously they will be more hesitant to sign up.

And it is only for bloggers. Indeed, BlogEngage is only for blog posts, as the name implies. Got the world’s funniest video? Put it in a blog post if you want to see it at BlogEngage. Created a life-saving app? Blog about it first, then submit it at BlogEngage.

Cool benefits of the Blog Engage RSS Subscription Service

Automatic submission. Once you write your blog post, that’s when the hard part comes. You have to pull up all your social sharing websites and submit your post. Well, not all – through the RSS service, BlogEngage automatically grabs your post and submits it (under your account, so you are still the submitter).

Extra vote. Do you spend what seems like a ridiculous amount of time cajoling friends to vote for your social submissions and retweet or like or thumbs up your posts so that they get more exposure? Well, at BlogEngage it takes eight votes to “pop” (at which time your posy gets home-page exposure and becomes a DoFollow link) – and the RSS service votes once. When you have voted, that makes two votes already, saving you from wearing down your cajoling muscles.

More links from more domains. All RSS submissions are automatically syndicated to Blog Serp, Top Blogged, RSS Leak, Blogger Ink and Blogger Tag. This means more DoFollow links, as these are automatically published, even if they don’t get enough votes on BlogEngage.

Better promotion. BlogEngage also auto-tweets and autoshares on FaceBook all RSS Service submissions, making it easier to garner the votes required to “pop” and also spreading the word about your blog posts.

Contest Sponsorship. This is brand spanking new… ” All our Gold membership customers and above will automatically be added into our guest blogging contests as sponsors.” That means fame, fortune and links. OK, maybe not fortune, but if fame and links can earn you a little extra money, I though I would slip the fortune in there for you.

And of course, there is the Adsense sharing, which I promised not to address. I won’t even mention it. Just forget that you read this line.

Five levels of membership

 

Memberships, RSS, Blog Engage

There are five levels of membership to choose from, the lowest costing just $1.99/month. The highest – a premium enterprise service if you run multiple blogs – costs $19.99/month. The gold membership I mentioned earlier costs $4.88/month. If you blog daily or almost daily, it is a worthwhile expense.  You can learn about the differences between the plans directly at the Blog Engage RSS Subscription Service page.

 


This post was featured in the That Girl Is Funny Blog Carnival.

 


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Look what’s popping up on Google News these days

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Those people who use social bookmarking to promote their content have long debated the merits of various sites. Usually the analysis follows the lines of…

“Well, I get more traffic out of SBsite X, but barely anything out of SBsite Y.”

“Yeah, but it take only 4 votes to pop on SBsite Y.”  *See below for definition of “pop”.

“Hey, does anybody know on which site the links are DoFollow?”

“On both, I think, but only if you pop.”

Well, here’s a new reason to use social bookmarking websites.  We have been helping a client with a campaign to end penny production in Canada.  This is all about visibility, engagement, differentiation and cresting an identity in a niche that is otherwise pretty bland – credit card applications.  Of course, we put the story on a number of social bookmarking websites.  The story sat on Kirtsy for a few days.  Then it popped.  Among my next Google Alerts for “Canada penny” came the post on Kirtsy and a related post on PFbuzz, as well.  Interestingly, the post on PFbuzz had popped three days earlier.  I am not sure what this means.

What I do know is that Google News is picking up more stories from social bookmarking websites, specifically when the stories pop.  This really is not surprising – a story popping is a great way to distinguish the cream from the crap.  But this does appear to be new, at least the first time I see it happening.

POP your stories

What are some of the most important things you need to do for your stories to pop?

  • Make sure the story is good quality.  That means substantive.  That means original ideas and new information.  That means well written.
  • Make sure all your submissions are quality.  You will develop a reputation, and when people see your avatar, they will pay attention.
  • The title is important.  Make sure it’s enticing so that people want to check it out.
  • Vote for other people’s stuff.  Yes, people will return the favor.  Nobody votes for stuff left by a hit-and-run marketer.
  • Comment on other people’s stuff.  It’s a great way to get noticed. Make sure your comments are substantive and add to the discussion – you want to be noticed as someone of interest, not as a pest.
  • Invite some friends to join the community.  Not only are they your natural supporters, but others will appreciate that you have helped grow the community.
  • Don’t be shy to ask for help.  That’s what Twitter is for: “Can you please check out my latest sub at SBsite X?  Votes, comments, shares appreciated.”

“Pop” stands for “popular”.  Stories that are voted “popular” usually pop to the front page of social bookmarking websites.  On many sites this is called being “published”.

 


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BlogEngage and Blokube added to TheBookmarketer

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Once again, we’ve improved The Bookmarketer by adding two new sites that I have been using quite a bit lately (high time they were added).

TheBookmarketer is a blogger’s best friend, making it easy for readers to spread the word about blog posts they like. Two lines of code posted into the template for single posts, and they have instant access to post a link and recommendation to your blog on 75 websites. In addition to popular social bookmarking websites like Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, OldDogg and Delicious, your blog posts can now be easily added to these more recent social bookmarking gems.

blogengage-header

BlogEngage is a vibrant new community of bloggers that is more of a community than most social bookmarking sites, perhaps because its user base are strictly bloggers, who tend to be very networking-friendly folks. What impresses me most about this is the attention that Brian, who runs the site, gives to the members. I really must tell this story….

About a week ago, I got an email from Brian. He was concerned about some irregular voting patterns and wanted to know if I had created shadow accounts to vote up my submissions. Of course, I had not; I run multiple Twitter accounts, but I do not have multiple accounts at any voting sites. Brian had highlighted several accounts that had voted mostly for my stuff. Those who know me, know that I am not shy about letting friends know where I submit things, so it is not surprising that a few friends followed me over. It turns out that some of the accounts concerned had submitted several of their own items, some before I had even signed up at BlogEngage. But there were two that really did look suspicious. One of them had signed up just because I had submitted his blog post. That one made sense to me. The other, I have no idea who he was, but he signed up the same day, voted for nothing but my stuff and really did look like a shadow account. But it wasn’t. It was like being stalked. Hopefully his/her IP address has been tracked down.

But the moral of the story is that Brian took the time to ask questions rather than just chop off someone’s head.

How does this compare to the big boys of social bookmarking?

  • DIGG: I have had lost an account at Digg. I was able to reach them and have my account reinstated (with no explanation), only to have it removed two weeks later (still with no explanation).
  • PROPELLER: I have lost an account at Propeller (remember Propeller?) with no explanation and my inquiry emails several times ignored. I have known many other to suffer the same fate at propeller, and it might even have been accidental (they were notoriously understaffed and technically challenged).
  • NEWSVINE: My account at NewsVine was deleted, and again several emails of mine were ignore (I assume it was because my mostly dormant account suddenly signed up to join several groups, but I am still scratching my head as to why deciding to become active would be a bad thing and why they would refuse to even answer an email).
  • MIXX: And I have known many people to lose their accounts at Mixx, some to be reinstated; at least that is a sign that Mixx (soon to be “the former Mixx”; I will very much miss them) responds to emails.
  • REDDIT: As to Reddit, they have discovered how to be truly evil to accounts they don’t like.  They just disable your account but let you think your account is still functioning. Anybody who submits their own blog posts – no matter how great the content is – will sooner or later have their account disabled. Unless they visit the account while logged off, they will never even know.

So with all this rudeness going around, BlogEngage gets a 10 out of 10 for being classy.

blokube2

BloKube is another young community of strictly bloggers interested in sharing tips and stories related to blogs and blog promotion. This is not the place to submit your blog posts on equestrian fashion or on Japanese cuisine. But it is a great place to learn how to improve your blog’s content, style, functionality and promotion – no matter what you blog’s topic is.

And I should not miss this opportunity to remind you that if your blog is Canadian, you really should be submitting posts also to http://www.Zoomit.ca (and voting for other good submissions while you are there).

 


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How Two Webmasters Discovered 25,000 Surprise Backlinks

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Two Canadian webmasters were reviewing their website stats, and discovered 25,000 new backlinks from one domain. This is how they did it – and how you can, too.

It should be noted that the link-building technique that will be described here is applicable to everyone. However, the precise mechanics of it are available to you only if your website:

1) Is Canadian.
2) Features informational content, such as a blog, a photo gallery or an articles directory (This is 2010 – if you are even considering SEO as a means of attracting traffic, I am sure that informational content is part of your plan, right?).

backlinks-street-sign

A Tale of Two (Canadian) Webmasters

Vancouverite Daniel Snyder, of Info Carnivor, was first to notice. He discovered 15,000 new backlinks from one domain, and that left him puzzled. He had only submitted two of his blog posts to the site, so how come he suddenly had 15,000 backlinks.

Next it was Hamilton-based Jim Rudnick, of Canuck SEO, who’s website saw a “sudden increase of inbound backlinks – 25,000 brand new ones” – and all from the same domain. He asked the support team at his stats tracking supplier to double-check this obvious error, but they confirmed it was right.

What Was the Site and How Could This Happen?

The site – or should I say “the domain” (I’ll explain the distinction shortly) – is Zoomit Canada, a social bookmarking website just for Canadian news, blogs, articles, etc. If you are familiar with Digg and Mixx, you will understand how Zoomit works.

So how did they do it? That is simple enough. They submitted their blog posts to Zoomit, and they did a little bit of networking (voting for/commenting on other people’s submissions). Because both Daniel and Jim submitted good quality content and supported the good quality content of others, other folks also voted for their submissions – enough to be voted to the front page.

And that’s when the magic happened.

As with most social bookmarking websites, it’s when a story gets voted to the front page that the inbound links really begin to count. This is the case with big social bookmarking websites, like Digg and Mixx, as well as with smaller ones like Old Dogg and MMO Social Network.

As I said above, what we are discussing here is applicable to everyone. However, the precise mechanics are available only to Canadian content. You see, Zoomit added an extra twist that you won’t find on those other social bookmarking websites – a top domains widget.

Look down the right side of the page and see that there is a “Top Domains” widget that lists the 20 top domains in alphabetical order. In other words, submit your post, network a bit and you’ve got yourself thousands of backlinks.

What Are All These Links Worth?

Now you might ask, what are these links worth, SEO-wise. You might have heard that a sitewide link isn’t worth all that much. This makes a great case study to separate fact from fiction. Here are four points to consider:

First, 25,000 links from one domain are nowhere near as useful as 25,000 links from 25,000 domains. Link diversity does count for both Google and Bing.

Second, 25,000 links from one domain are better than 24,000 links from one domain. And both are better than a single link from that domain. Yes, every link counts.

Third, a sitewide link in most cases (certainly in this case) includes a link on the home page, something that is generally considered quite valuable in SEO. In this case, the home page is PR4.

Fourth, look at the Zoomit Canada site structure. Each province and each news channel is hosted on a separate subdomain. Subdomains are generally treated by the search engines as separate websites. In all, this website – oops, sorry… I mean this “domain” – includes 13 province subdomains, 21 channel subdomains, plus the main domain. That adds up to 35 home page links by being a “top domain” on Zoomit Canada.

Given the effort in building quality links, and the unlikelihood that you’ll ever have links from 25,000 different domains – and possibly not even from 2,500 domains, the effort to get those 25,000 links from one strong domain is worthwhile. Lucky Canadian webmasters who benefit.

Don’t despair if you post non-Canadian content. Social bookmarking and other social sharing is a great strategy, and every great piece of content (quality stuff, not $25 articles written offshore by someone who knows about as much of your topic as my neighbour’s cat and writes in something that almost exactly fails to resemble English) you create and promote creates links back to your website.

Every sales person, every lobbyist, every entrepreneur, every preacher, every person who wants to deliver a message knows that the most important words are “Please” and “Thank You”.

So a big “Thank you” to Daniel and Jim for inspiring this post.

And (shameless plug alert) please let us know if you need writers for your content – to write good quality, meaningful posts – the type that my neighbour’s cat just can’t produce for you – and promote them in the world of social media.

 


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OLdDogg is added to TheBookMarketer

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

The Bookmarketer free bookmarketing power tool         olddoggjpg

We pride ourselves on offering bloggers one of the more up-to-date tools that encourages readers to social bookmark their posts. This tool is of course, TheBookMarketer.And one of the biggest changes in Social Bookmarking in the past year was the death of Propeller and the almost simultaneous arrival of OldDogg.

We are pleased to be one of the first social bookmarking tools to remove Propeller and to add OldDogg. (Are we the first? Can anybody tell me?)

Here is the code to install TheBookmarketer on your pages:

<center>
<script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.seo-writer.com/tools/bookmarketer.js">
</script><br>
<a href="http://www.seo-writer.com/tools/bookmarker.php" style="font-size:70%">
Grab The Bookmarketer For Your Site</a></center>

 


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