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Including Social Media in Your Online Marketing Strategy

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You've probably heard of Digg, Netscape, Flickr, or YouTube. Liana Evans talks about how to leverage these social media sites into your marketing strategy, which sites can help you gain access to your optimal target audience, and how they can become a great part of your online marketing plan.
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It’s common these days to see press releases about "social media" companies, products, or even ideas. As a professional search marketer, I pay attention to almost everything that comes off the pages of TechCrunch and Mashable, but not every webmaster or website marketer has the time (or desire) to delve into these areas.

Social media is becoming an increasingly important piece of the search engine optimization (SEO) puzzle. This piece needs to be carefully evaluated before just trying to force it into your online marketing strategy. Some types of social media can be a great fit, but others just won’t work. Knowing the difference is key to a successful online marketing strategy.

Social media sites such as Digg, Netscape, Reddit, and Newsvine create user-generated content and links, and send traffic to entirely different types of sites. From social communities and networks to video and photo sharing sites, there’s likely a good fit for any type of niche market in at least one area of social media.

Social News Sites

Social news sites allow members to submit articles that they find newsworthy, unique, or interesting. Once articles are submitted, members vote on the article (up/down, for/against, digg/bury), as well as leave comments (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1 Social news site: Netscape.

As a submitted article gains positive votes, it can be promoted to its category’s front pages or even the site’s front page. An article that makes it to the front page can garner a ton of traffic for the site that originated the article. In some cases, that traffic can even crash the originating website. Many an unsuspecting webmaster has had to deal with an overload of traffic caused by a home site article being the subject of a Digg front page story.

While this might sound like a "good problem," a search marketer or webmaster should really stop and evaluate this situation:

  • Extra traffic is great, but is it qualified traffic for your site? Will people who’ve clicked through really buy from your site? Will they link to you from their own websites? It’s likely that all you’ll get is a lot of traffic.
  • Retail sites need conversions to earn revenue—not just people visiting to read an article and then leaving. However, if your content site makes its revenue via eyeballs that see your site, social news sites are definitely one aspect of social media to place in your online marketing strategy.
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