How to Leverage Social Bookmarking to Promote Your Website

Fifteen years ago there were just a few websites. People didn’t need to bookmark them because there weren’t too many of them and they were easy to remember.

A few years later, with more websites on more servers, most Internet browsers added a bookmarking feature. That way, you could bookmark those websites that you liked and find them later with little effort.
   

A couple of years ago, a new concept was born: social bookmarking. It’s a service that allows you to bookmark content, share it with the world and get recommendations about content that you might like based on what people with similar interests to yours have bookmarked.   

But there’s a lot more to it. Communities have been built around social bookmarking. One person posts a link, people comment on it and a whole conversation starts around that topic.

What Are the Most Popular Social Bookmarking Services?

Some of the most popular social bookmarking services are Digg, Delicious, Reddit, Mixx and StumbleUpon. Other less popular social bookmarking sites are Diigo, Blinklist and Google Bookmarks.

You Need to Understand these Communities to Benefit from Them

The very first step to taking advantage of social bookmarking is to spend a few hours on some of the sites mentioned above. Get a feel for the kind of content people in these communities consume, promote and link to. You’ll notice a lot of tech-related content, controversial and funny videos, and other crazy stuff. After spending a few hours on these sites, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what works here and what doesn’t. But before you start thinking, “Never mind, this has nothing to do with my market”, keep reading.   

How You Can Benefit from Social Bookmarking Sites

These sites can spike your traffic in a way you never imagined. Websites that typically may have 100-200 unique daily visitors can get more than 10,000 visits in one day when their links make the home page of Digg and StumbleUpon. That being said, there are two things that I want to make clear:

  • Most of the content you try to promote through social bookmarking won’t get much exposure. You might have to submit 20 pieces of content before one generates 10,000 visitors to your site. But when this happens, it will certainly make all the difference.
  • The traffic that comes from these sites converts very poorly. If you get a 0.1% conversion rate, consider yourself very lucky.

I know what you’re thinking, “If the traffic doesn’t convert, why would I want it?” I’m glad you asked! Let me explain.

We established that the audience at these sites is generally the “geeky kind.” Geeky people tend to link a lot to sites they like. Quality links help you get high engine rankings. And of course no explanation is needed to understand how high engine rankings can make you money.

For that same reason, several marketing agencies create content that is not related to their clients’ products but has the potential to become very viral. I’m sure you’ve heard about link-baiting and there’s no better way to get links than great viral content. And one of the best ways to promote viral content is through social bookmarking sites.

Some Tips for a Successful Social Bookmarking Strategy

Now that you know why to do it, let’s talk about the how.

  • Use a great headline. Spend some time brainstorming about the perfect headline. No matter how great a piece of content is, without a great headline it will never make the home page.
  • Leverage your network of friends. You can bookmark your own content, sure. But you won’t get anywhere with one vote only. Ask your friends—both your real friends and your contacts on these social bookmarking sites, to bookmark your content.
  • It’s all about timing. If 50 people bookmark your content in 15 minutes, you have a much better chance of getting exposure than if they do it in 15 days.
  • Don’t spam. Don’t create 50 accounts and bookmark your own content 50 times. You’ll get your accounts cancelled and could damage your reputation.
  • Use tools. Some tools like Socializer, Social Media Add-On for Firefox and OnlyWire allow you to bookmark your content using several social bookmarking services at a time.
  • Make it easy for people to bookmark your content. If you have a WordPress blog, there are some plugins for this, including Sociable, ShareThis and AddThis.

Conclusion

Understand how social bookmarking services work, what kind of content people in these communities care about and give it to them. If it doesn’t work the first time, keep trying. You’ll get a lot better at it, and sooner or later you could get thousands of visits and hundreds of links.

Eager for more? Check out Zeke’s series "Getting Social Smarts" and his three podcasts below for more great online marketing information and tips!

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