Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Use Social Media to Market Your StoresOnline Website

If you have an ear to the ground about what's new with the web, you'll hear alot of talk about "Web 2.0". What does this mean? Well according to Wikipedia, Web 2.0 can be described as follows:

Web 2.0 is a term describing changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, secure information sharing, collaboration and functionality of the web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and its hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies. The term became notable after the first O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004.[2][3] Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users utilize the Web. According to Tim O'Reilly:

“Web 2.0 is the
business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.[4]

Some technology experts, notably
Tim Berners-Lee, have questioned whether one can use the term in any meaningful way, since many of the technology components of "Web 2.0" have existed since the early days of the Web.[5][6]

So, we at the StoresOnline Success Blog have recently suggested that you start a blog. If you've done this, then good for you! Another aspect of the creative world of web 2.0 is utilizing social media to drive traffic to your website. Now this doesn't mean that you just open up a MySpace.com page or a Facebook.com page for your site and that is all that needs to be done. There is a lot more to it. Be creative with the way that you use the web. It's time that you use social media as a way to create buzz and stay in touch with your target audience in the very places hat they frequent and socialize.

Here is a list and rating about social media sites from SEOmoz.org:

1. Digg

Their Pitch: "Digg is a user driven social content website. Ok, so what the heck does that mean? Well, everything on digg is submitted by the digg user community (that would be you). After you submit content, other digg users read your submission and digg what they like best."

Our Take: When a website, or any appliance, for that matter, becomes a verb, you know they have done something right. "To digg" has become an important addition to this noun-turned-verb crowd. Do you think it annoys Yahoo! that despite their best efforts, their name as a verb means something like "to make a fool of oneself?"

You can submit your own content to Digg; however, whether your content is dugg en masse has a lot to do with the status of the person who submits the article. Think of it as Washington DC. You want to get an influential lobbyist to work on your behalf, because even if your initiative is awesome, no one will listen if you have no reputation.

When someone else diggs your content without your knowledge, you'll probably not be ready for a huge increase in traffic. If your site is strong enough, an untimely digg isn't going to hurt you. If you have digg-worthy content, consider enabling a comments form, or some type of participation, whereby users have to register in order to participate. This way, your Digg referrals should result in more people registering and being more inclined to become regular visitors.

You cannot have everyone in your office digg what you've submitted. The site's editors will notice that a lot of diggs are coming from the same IP address, and their most likely course of action will be to ban you and your workmates' accounts. Trust me. Of course, having a bunch of different usernames will achieve the same result.

If you're dugg and your servers can stand the load, the traffic you gain from such an occurrance is priceless.

2. del.icio.us

Their Pitch: "del.icio.us is a social bookmarking website -- the primary use of del.icio.us is to store your bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too."

Our take: This site is quite a lot like Digg, but it seems to emphasize the community aspect of social media more than Digg does.

The "network" feature of del.icio.us may well be its most useful tool. Users can identify other people whose content they respect and appreciate, thus becoming privy to the bookmarking actions of those users. It's also possible to view the people others have added, and those who have added them. Confused? All the network does is create a web of people who are linked to each other through common interests and mutual respect.

You can save links to content in the same way as you do on Digg, thus giving the content a boost in the del.icio.us / popular rankings. Hopefully, those people whom you add to your network will browse your content also, and things that you bookmark will become more visible. You can start to develop a community of people who share your interests.

This community is one of the main things you can get out of del.icio.us that differentiates it from similar sites.

3. Reddit

Their pitch: "Reddit is a source for what's new and popular on the web -- personalized for you. Your votes train a filter, so let reddit know what you liked and disliked, because you'll begin to be recommended links filtered to your tastes. All of the content on reddit is submitted and voted on by users like you."

Our take: Another social bookmarking site, Reddit lets you save and comment on news stories that you or others submit to the site. Reddit will send you more traffic than you may think. It seems that Reddit's users are, on the whole, older and smarter than Digg's. This is not to say that Digg is full of idiots; however, the average comment at Digg seems to be less constructive than those on Reddit. Popularity probably plays a part here, as Digg is dealing with a bigger audience than is Reddit.

While Digg's how-to-get-on-the-homepage question is partly answered, the code to success on the Reddit homepage hasn't yet been cracked. There appears to be no bias amongst Reddit users towards technology, current events or anything else. The homepage can contain stories about any subject, as well as cool pictures, science news or anything else. This diversity means that all topics have a chance of being voted up, but your topic is just one amongst many.

4. Technorati

Their pitch: "Technorati is the recognized authority on what's going on in the world of weblogs. We help people search for, surface, and organize bloggers and their daily posts... Technorati. Who's saying what. Right now."

Our take: Without a coherent plan of what one expects to achieve on Technorati, this site seems a little daunting. The most useful tactic is obvious: you must add the blogs you like as favorites in order to take advantage of the site's huge database. Additionally, searching for keywords can be fun, but you will soon be cowering from the scores of MySpace and LiveJournal blogs who have mentioned said keyword in their rants.

Keep tabs on your online visibility using Technorati. Technorati will show you who's linking to your blog, which is a great service. Don't be deceived that all Technorati does is chronicle blog posts. The site indexes popular videos, linking to YouTube videos that are enjoying a lot of links.

The site has some cool features, such as the "Technorati Mini" window that you can display on your desk top, and which updates itself every minute, showing you what's happening on your favorite blogs. Technorati should be used in conjunction with other marketing tools. Although your potential for direct marketing on the site is limited, it will show you how much progress you're making, where you're being mentioned and how your competitors are doing.

5. Squidoo

Their pitch: "Squidoo's goal as a platform is to bring the power of recommendation to search. Squidoo's goal as a co-op is to pay as much money as we can to our lensmasters and to charity. And Squidoo's goal as a community is to have fun along the way, and meet new ideas and the people behind them."

Our take: While their attempt at wit and ingenuity in their pitch only confuses Squidoo's purpose, the website itself is a good resource. Letting people create "lenses" about any topic, Squidoo is different to LinkedIn in that people are not limited to promoting themselves. As well as individuals, businesses, services and hobbies are all popular Squidoo lens topics. To clarify, a lens is a page created by a user, and users can create as many lenses as they wish on as many different subjects.

Squidoo actually promotes the addition of external links to lenses. In fact, in their FAQs, they specifically show off their link lovability, stating that Squidoo lenses have "huge credibility" with search engines, and briefly explaining how this can help the sites you link to rise up Google searches. No nofollowing here, people!

Squidoo does not restrict you to one lens per topic. Instead, it uses an algorithm to rank lenses. You can make money from royalties on Squidoo, and either keep them using PayPal, or donate the money to charity. Do not get too excited, though. There are many thousands of people using Squidoo and you'll spend a lot of time trying to become visible enough to make any money.

Lenses that make it to the top of the rankings (#1 - 100) are invaribly text, link and picture rich, although because the rank is assigned by a computer, the lenses with the top rankings are not necessarily those with the most useful content. For exmaple, the premier lens when this article was being written was "Funky, Chic and Cool Laptop Bags." Cute, yes. Useful? Not really. You can include an RSS feed to your company's blog, as well as as many outbound links as you like.

Lenses can come with other neat features, such as Google Maps, feeds from sites like BCC News, and previews of your Flickr images. Include enough links to your actual website that people will see many opportunities to click through. After all, anyone who is interested enough in what you have to offer that they bother reading your lens is probably also interested enough to see your site.

The main thing you have to gain out of using Squidoo is increased online visibility from a nicely presented source that is not a wiki. This is not a wiki and thus, the content is entirely up to you. It is a good idea to have a Squidoo lens to you company's name. Done well, your lens will appear in search results.

These are the top five that SEOmoz.org talks about. There are 30 Social sites that they rank, so click here to read the rest of the article. As you learn more and more about Web 2.0, you'll see that the possibilities for you to get traffic to your StoresOnline website are vast, you just need to get started.

If you have a favorite social media site, tell us about it as well as how you think it might help other StoresOnline Merchants to do the same thing.


Stacey & Nico Gonzalez said...

Again, thank you for the useful information. What stuck out to me was to include enough links to your website that people will see many opportunities to click through. I need to start thinking more along the lines of my future buyers and not just having this great website.

goooooood girl said...

Very fine......

Mike said...

A great place to find social bookmarking buttons is addthis.com They have buttons that can add to your site that include all of those places mentioned in that article.

Ethel said...

I really like addthis.com. It is a great way to take advantage of social bookmarking.And it's not hard to set up.
If you have questions on how to do this just call customer support and they can help you.

Brighton said...

Facebook is a great place to market your site. Nearly half of the top 100 e tailers use Facebook to promote their site.