The Ultimate Small Business Guide to Social Bookmarking: Driving Traffic to Your Blog

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Do you use social bookmarking sites? Have you used them to get traffic to your business blog?

Social bookmarking sites have been around for over a decade. They can prove to be an effective method at getting your blog content seen and shared. In fact, most viral sharing begins on sites like Reddit, Delicious, StumbleUpon and Digg.

The vast majority of businesses just don’t know how to use these sites to generate engagement.

That’s why I put together an ultimate guide to using social bookmarking sites to drive traffic to your blog. Use the tips and tactics to get your blog on the map.

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Social bookmarking sites are cloud-based link savers. Think of them like a bookmark (or favourite) on your computer, only they’re online, public, and shareable. You can access them anywhere. (note: there are enterprise bookmarking sites too, that you can use for work, or other closed groups. We won’t be talking about these here.)

Social bookmarking sites started in 2003, with Delicious. There’s now a variety of of these sites, ranging from the highly popular ones (like Reddit and Digg) to more niche sites like Squidoo. There’s even newer types of social bookmarking, such as Pinterest’s recently rolled out Article Rich Pins.

Each site has its own kind of culture, folksonomy ( based on their own metatag/   hashtag vocabulary), and methods of engaging (like voting up or down the quality of content, how articles are shared, and so on).

With all the developments in social sharing, social bookmarking might seem a bit old school as a method to share your content.

The average click through rate is very low (about 0.1%).

At the same time, most viral campaigns tend to start on the top social bookmarking sites ( Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon, and Delicious). Why? Social bookmarking sites are populated by communities of the internet “connectors”.

So, if your business articles fit with the techie crowd, learn how to use ‘em, and your article just may be the next big story. If not, stick with the more popular social sites.

Basic Best Practices


As I mentioned, each social bookmarking site has its own culture and folksonomy. There are, however, some basic, common practices that need adhering to.

Here are 11 tips for connecting:

1. Understand the Communities


If your goal in using social bookmarking sites is to share your articles - and ultimately drive tons of traffic to your blog: Don’t just jump in and start posting links to your articles. You’ll be heckled out - or worse - you’ll be ignored! (Hey, the tech crowd is a tight community, and they don’t often take kindly to tribes of another stripe…)

To benefit from social bookmarking sites, you need to spend a few hours exploring the sites.

Set up your own personal profile to discover the sites, and get the hang of what they’re about:

  • Check out the popular and trending content.
  • Explore industry relevant tags.
  • Read the content, and analyze what fits with your business blog.

You’ll notice there’s lots of tech type content, funny images, controversial videos, and other kinda crazy stuff. If you can make this work with your content, take it to the next level.

Warning:_ Set your time limit and stick to it. You can waste endless hours (um, even days) spiralling down the cat photo rabbit holes._ Time you’ll never get back.

Here’s a list of social bookmarking sites to check out:

  • Reddit - A top site, with Alexa ranking of 88
  • Digg - A top site, with Alexa ranking under 500
  • Delicious - First to to pioneer tagging, in 2003. Remains a top social bookmarking site, with Alexa ranking under 900
  • StumbleUpon - Another top site, with Alexa ranking under 200
  • Slashdog.org- “News for nerds and stuff that matters” Alexa just over 1,700
  • List.ly - Visually appealing bookmarklet site
  • folked.com - Alexa ranking under 2,500
  • Xmarks  - Lets you sync bookmarks from most web platforms, has Alexa ranking under 2,500
  • Pinterest-  I’ll throw in Pinterest’s new Article Rich Pins. It’s Pinterest’s intent to create shareable articles, by encouraging users to make article Boards.

Other, more niche sites include diigo.com, Blinklist, squidoo.com, and Bundlr.

2. Make a Profile


When you’ve done your sleuthing, and you’ve got a feel for the sites, make a profile for your business. You can use your personal profile, too. (Be human.) Update your bio to include where you’re working/ your website.

On Stumpleupon , for example, sign up with your Facebook account, or through email. Then, choose your interests. The more granularly you choose, the better your experience on the site, as it learns what you like.  Most social bookmarking sites have the same process. It’s not hard.

If you’re going the business profile route, include a succinct company bio, and your website. Also include your business logo, or your face (to make your profile more personalized).

Make it interesting - this is how people are going to judge your first impression.

Here’s Wishpond’s profile on Delicious:

Upload a few bookmarks to give your profile personality. Your bookmarked sites will give others (and the the site algorithms) a better understanding of who you are, what you like, and if they’re going to like your content.

3. Find Your Network


Now you’re ready to start networking. Begin the process of finding your network as you would on any social site. Search for and Follow:

  • your business niche, find your industry leaders.
  • your Friends and Followers on other social sites.
  • Followers of your new Friends, and Follow people you’re interested in.
  • your competitors’ Followers

Most sites give you suggested people to Follow, too. Go through your suggested Follow list, and assess people profiles. Connect with those that really fit with your business.

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Judge them based on their:

  • bio
  • image
  • content

See how important your profile is? (you’ll be judged too!)

4. Engage Your Network


Get noticed by your network. Engage by sharing, voting for and commenting.

Be interested and be interesting when commenting. Don’t just spam and post links back to your site. This is so frowned upon, it makes me sick to even mention.

Be the guy (or gal)  who’s cool and authentic , and you’re on the right path to developing your reach. And if you really don’t get this, read the site’s guidelines before you start to engage. These sites are very strict about what you can and cannot post.

Reddit has both rules, and ‘reddiquette’ guidelines. Here’s a snippet of from their “please don’t” reddiquette guidelines. Failing to adhere to these will get you kicked off the site:

Reddit also has scores for the quality of your every activity. Comment well, and often, and you’ll gain respected karma.

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Post links to your articles on your social bookmarking profiles.

Note: If you have both a business profile, and a personal profile, don’t post the links twice. Choose one profile to use.

On Stumbleupon, post your articles, photos, videos etc. by Click on “add a page” from the upper right hand drop down menu.

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Give the details about your website, and include good tags. Tags are what gets your posts seen by a lot more people (I’ll talk more about them in the next section).

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Most sites have a similar process to post your articles.

Post articles that:

  • you’ve written and posted on your own business blog
  • you’ve written and are published on other blogs
  • mention you or your business, such your company in the news

6. Use Tags


Social bookmarking sites were the first online sites to use tags. Delicious pioneered their use as a way to sort, find and search. They’re based on metatag data, and they are a key feature on most of these sites.

You know tags today as hashtags, or even keywords.

On Delicious, you can search for posts with specific tags:

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Like most social sites these days, tags have a particular site specific vernacular. You really need to play around on the sites to find the best tags to use for your content.

Three good practices for using hashtags on your article posts are:

1. Use tags that are relevant to your articles.

Here’s a an example of tags used for an article on Pinterest. Leo uses “Pinterest, socialmedia, article, branding, and nonprofit” to get found by people searching for these topics.

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2. Use tags that are relevant to your niche.

3. Find your popular tags for your niche market on the social sites you’re using, by:

  • researching industry leaders on each, and analyzing the tags they use
  • checking out the tags of your competition
  • using tags, and analyzing the results you achieve

7. Make a Great Headline


Without a great title, no one’s going to read your stuff, let alone share it. If your goal is to make a front page post, your headline can make or break you.

Remember: Your article view count is competing with  millions of other articles being posted everyday. Not only that - but you’ve got competition with the best content writers in the world - including pros like Mashable, Buzzfeed, the Next Web, and even the New York Times!

Here’s a few examples of popular headlines from Digg’s front page right now:

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(If you’ve ever worked at a newspaper, or had an article published by a professional source, you’ll know how important a title is. Editors spend countless hours honing the killer title that’s going to get the most views.)

You might not have the time, resources and talent to truly compete, but here’s a few headline crafting tips :

  • Spend time to perfect your headline.
  • Write out your title.
  • Then rewrite it 10-15 times.
  • Choose the best.
  • Keep your headlines short and intriguing.
  • Make headlines that are: controversial, unbelievable, numerical, questioning, relatable, and so on.

Check out Brain Clark at   Copyblogger site for more magnetic headline tips.

8. Post Crazy Images


Just like the headline, your posts’ image can be even more valuable in getting you eyeballs. This is particularly true on social bookmarking sites.

Tips on crazy images for your social bookmarking articles:

  • Get creative.
  • Stay true to your brand. (If your company has a demographic of - say - a middle income two-parent family of pre-school aged children, you’re not going to want to show images of blood quenched vampires, for example. Yes, you could get shock value, but you’re not going to get ROI and sales.)
  • Make your own original images. (Don’t swipe images from sites like Reddit, to try to boost eyeballs on the site. The owner of the image will find out - and they’re not going to be happy with you. Read: site shaming, or even the potential for legal action.)
  • Create memes. These are some of the most shared images on these sites.
  • Make and post cool infographics.
  • Make funny gifs.
  • Be a genius with Vine videos and make hilarious stop motion summaries of your articles.

To find photos, check out: Flickr Creative Commons, ShutterStock and iStockphoto.

To create your own images, use tools like : Photoshop, PicMonkey, gimp, GIFMaker.me, IrfanView, Vine, Instagram and loads more.

9. Leverage Your Network: Viral Campaigns


You know the odds are stacked against you. On social bookmarking sites, you’ve got a 0.1% chance of getting your link clicked through.

If you want to make a viral campaign, well, it’ going to take a LOT of effort and smarts on your part. And the reality is that most viral marketing campaigns get viral due to offline marketing.  But, you can see the results of viral campaigns on social bookmarking sites, do I’ll touch a bit on viral campaigns.

Here’s a cat image that went viral on Reddit. In 3 hours, it’s gotten 3,754 views, 2,094 votes, and 46 comments.  In 4 hours, it had over 11,000 views.

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You might have read articles that profess to tell you exactly how to make a post go viral. In honesty, though, it’s kind of impossible to know exactly how to make a viral campaign. And the chances of replicating one - well, unless you’re a viral marketing pro,  that’s even less than 0.0001%.

Here are a few good practices to give your article post a viral chance.

Leverage your network

You’ve developed good karma on your sites, right? Now’s the time to put it to use.

By making the effort to develop your network, reach out to industry leaders, comment on followers’ posts, share lots of other people’s content, and generally done all the super cool stuff you need to do to develop a great, solid network, your posts will likely get lots of views, shares and comments.

This is the first step to making a viral campaign through social bookmarking.

Promote your posts fast

If your goal is to generate tons of hits, you need to prepare to a networking strategy, to get the word out about your social post. As soon as you post your article or image:

  • email the link to your friends and co-workers
  • post it on your more traditional social sites (like Facebook and Twitter)
  • use your real offline network to spread the word, too.

If 200 people bookmark your site in 10 minutes, you’ll spiral up to a lot more views than if it takes a day to get those 200 bookmarks. Hit fast and hit hard to snowball a viral campaign.

The faster it gets views and comments, the more chance it has to make the front page, which in turn will get you more views and comments and so on and so on.

Make your posts useful, emotional and tuned into your market’s mass psychology.

Yes, these words are easy to say, but not easy to do. But if your image, headline and article can all hit the right buttons for your market on social bookmarking sites - it will go viral.

Read more about viral marketing campaigns from Jonah Berger’s latest book, Contagious.

10. Don’t spam


This should go without saying: don’t spam on social bookmarking sites. Don’t be a total jerk. Don’t overtly use them for link-building. Etc. Etc. Etc.

You need to post a lot of articles before you get a viral hit. But don’t bombard your followers feed with your stuff all day long.

As mentioned, most social bookmarking sites have their own etiquette and guidelines. Read them, and adhere to them!

For example, don’t get into unscrupulous tactics like creating fake accounts on the site, just to bookmark your content.

Most social bookmarking sites will shutdown your account for these activities. It could even damage your offline reputation as a result.

11. Monitor and Learn


Like any good social media marketer, you need to monitor your results. And you need learn from what you’re doing well, and what you’re doing wrong.

Use metric tools like:

  • Social Media Add-On for Firefox - gives you vote counts on social sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious, Reddit and more.
  • OnlyWire - lets you automate your social bookmarking site updates, and gives you analytics for them.
  • bit.ly - track your CTR’s with this link shortner site.
  • Google analytics - track your referral traffic through Google analytics (you need to set this up on your site)
  • Your blog analytics - check your metrics on your wordpress, blogger, google site, or whatever platform you’re using for your blog site.

You don’t need to obsess over every metric.

Learn from what posts work, what don’t, and alter your tactics to get more traffic.

Conclusion


Now you have a good introduction to what social bookmarking sites are, and how you can use them to drive traffic to your blog. Your business could benefit from adding them to your social media marketing strategy. Check them out, use these practical guidelines, monitor your results, and assess the ROI benefits for your business.

Further reading on how to use social media to drive traffic to your blog:

What do you think? Have you used social bookmarking sites for your business? What successes have you had? What tips can you offer? Do you think social bookmarking would be of value for your business?