Get Found in Social Media
Social media is all the rage. We’ll bet that not a week (or per-haps even a day) goes by when you’re not having a colleague connect with you on LinkedIn, receiving a friend request on Facebook, or hearing about Twitter on TV. What is social
media? The all-knowing Wikipedia defines social media as “Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.” That’s not a bad definition.We’d sim-plify it and say that social media is about people connecting,interacting, and sharing online.
Why should you care about social media? The answer is the same as why you should care about Google—because it provides a great way to reach and engage potential cus-tomers. As is the case with Google, more of your potential customers hang out at the social media watering holes, so this is where you need to hang out, too, if you want to
engage with them.
You can find a variety of social media sites on the Web today. These include social networking (such as Facebook and LinkedIn), social news sites (Digg and Reddit), and
social bookmarking/discovery sites (Delicious and Stumble-Upon). Each has its different uses, but most share the ability to create a user profile, connect to others on the site, and interact and share information with the network’s commu-nity of people.
Creating an Effective Online Profile
In the rest of this chapter, we look at specific social media web sites and how you can leverage them, but before we do that, let’s look at one aspect that’s common to most of
these sites: the user profile. A profile often consists of your username, avatar image, bio/summary, and web links. As you start building a social media presence, it’s helpful to
spend a little bit of time thinking about how you approach building your personal brand in social media.
PICKING A USERNAME
For many of the social media sites (e.g., LinkedIn and Face-book), you don’t invent a new username for yourself—you access the site as yourself. In fact, creating a fictitious per-son or a persona is in violation of the terms of service of these sites and is likely to get you kicked off. But, not all sites operate this way. Sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, and
Twitter allow you to create any username you want. Based on your goals, different approaches to a username might make sense. If you’re reading this book, we’ll assume that you’re a business person trying to expand marketing reach
for a product or service. In that case, we have several tips for usernames:
1.Wherever possible, use your real name for your username. For example, we use @bhalligan and @dharmesh for our primary twitter accounts. (We also have @hubspot for our business.)
2.Make your username simple and clean. Stay away from usernames that play clever games, e.g., using the number “3” as a backwards letter “E.”
Get Found in Social Media
3.Don’t include numerals in your username. Not only is this reminiscent of a bygone era (“Hi, I’m John4382 on AOL!”), there’s a chance that people will think
your account is a bit spammy.
4.Pick a name that’s available on all or most of the major social sites so that you can have a consistent name across as many sites as possible. If you have a com-mon name, this may be difficult, but try your best. The goal is to build your online brand so people start recognizing you.
PICKING AN ONLINE AVATAR/PROFILE IMAGE
In addition to your username, all of the social media sites allow you to upload a small image associated with your account. This image shows up with your profile, and often
is attached to comments and other contributions you make on the site. Pick a nice photo of yourself and make sure it’s the right dimensions when you upload it. Try a couple
of variations. If you lack the technical skills to resize and retouch photos, get a friend or family member to help. The profile image is an important part of your online identity
and it’s not that hard to get it right. Use the same image across all of your social media profiles. If you’re setting up social media accounts for your business, your avatar image
should be some variation of your logo. Think of your profile image as part of your overall brand (because it is). Try for something that is distinctive and memorable. Be consistent.
Social media sites usually let you tell the world about your-self with a short, one- or two-sentence description. Don’t skip this step! Many people in social media will read your
bio to determine if they’re interested in hearing what you have to say. A missing bio rarely instills confidence and peo-ple are likely to just skip by you, so it pays to spend the
time to write a brief but compelling bio. When writing your bio, we advise focusing on the people with whom you’re interested in connecting. Though some of them may care
that you’re a dog-lover or wine expert, they’re more likely interested in knowing your area of business expertise and what they can expect to gain from being connected with
you. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with instilling some personality in your bio, just be interesting and relevant.
Social media sites often allow you to enter one or more links to web sites where people can learn more about you or your company. Common approaches include linking to your blog (if you have one) or to your business web site. Unfortu-nately, these links generate little (if any) SEO value. They’re usually no-follow links (which don’t pass SEO credit). How-ever, they can still generate traffic to your desired web site, so you should take advantage of them.
Getting Fans on Facebook
Facebook is one of the largest and most active social net-working sites on the Internet. As of this writing, Facebook has:
- More than 200 million active users
- Over 100 million users logging on at least once a day
- The fastest-growing demographic of people 35 years and older
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This last statistic is particularly interesting because although Facebook started as a web site for students, it has grown well beyond that and is no longer a web site just
for college students to hang out on. It’s now a widespread application used by millions of people of all ages.
You may be wondering what the advantage is of having a presence on a social media site like Facebook when your business already has a regular web site. The answer is reach.
You want your message and story to reach as many people as possible. To maximize your reach, you need to have a presence where people are hanging out and increasingly
they’re hanging out on Facebook.
Creating a business page in Facebook is easy and free. Once created, the page can be branded with your com-pany’s logo and customized to include information about
your business and a link back to your main web site. Users on Facebook can then become “fans” of your business page.
In addition to providing a page that has basic information about your organization, Facebook allows a multitude of other features that help better engage your community.
These include discussion forums, photos, videos, test imo-nials, and hundreds of other features created by third-party developers. It’s these interactive features that truly make
Facebook a vibrant community where like-minded individ-uals can interact and share.
What makes Facebook’s reach particularly powerful is its viral aspect. When individual users join your community on Facebook, their friends see an update in their Face-book home page. This leads to more users joining your community, causing more people to be exposed to your business, and so on. By leveraging this social aspect of Face-book, businesses have a chance to reach a large group of people.
CREATING A FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE
All Facebook users have a personal page where you can post information about yourself, post status updates that others will see, and share information, such as photos and
links. In addition to your personal page, you should create a separate page for your business. This is what Facebook calls a fan page, but we’ll call it a business page (as that makes more sense). Over four million users become fans of pages
If you don’t yet have a personal account on Facebook, create it first. You should not create a standard user account for a business. This is in violation of Facebook’s terms of
service, and you will be at risk of having your account terminated.
To create a business page, you must first be logged in with your personal account (only logged in users can cre-ate fan pages). Once you’re logged in, visit the following
The first step in creating your page is to determine which category it falls into. You can choose from many choices organized by Local, Brand/Product/Organization,
and Artist/Band/Public Figure. Pick the one that fits best. Once you’ve created a business page for your company, you’ll need to spend some time promoting it. Here are a few ways you can do that:
1.Post a link to your business page from your personal profile. You can do this by clicking the “share” button when viewing your business page.
Get Found in Social Media
2.Promote your new Facebook business page within your existing channels (your company web site, your blog, your e-mail newsletter, your LinkedIn profile, etc.).
3.Buy social ads on Facebook. Facebook shows these ads to targeted users within various locations on the site.
To make it easy for potential customers to visit and remember the location of your Facebook page, create a sub-domain (facebook.yourcompany.com) on your main
domain that sends users to your Facebook business page.
It’s free and takes just a few minutes for whoever is managing your domain configuration. You should also cus-tomize the URL for your Facebook business page. This way, users can access the page with a URL that looks like http://facebook.com/yourcompany instead of the ugly and indecipherable default URL that Facebook provides by default.
LEARNING FROM FACEBOOK ADS
Facebook allows business to advertise their business pages (or any other web page) within Facebook. These ads are shown to specific Facebook users in various parts of the
site. Even if you’re not planning to buy Facebook social ads, it’s worth taking the first step as if you’re launching an ad.
Facebook’s ad tool allows you to specify demographics such as age and gender—which is a great way to get a rough sense of how many Facebook users fit your target market. Figure 7.1 shows a sample demographic for “marketing”: 47,260
people over the age of 25 in the U.S. have specified the word “marketing” somewhere in their profile. Try running this tool for your own industry and see how many users you
can find. This is particularly helpful if you’re a local business focused on a specific geographic area, as Facebook allows targeting by location, as well.
Getting started on Facebook is easy, but it requires a certain amount of ongoing attention to achieve maximum
Get Found in Social Media
value, as users expect to see fresh information on the site. You should plan to have someone in your company accountable for updating the site and participating in the
conversations regularly. Devoting time to fostering a social networking page may be a bit of a challenge for small businesses with limited resources, but it’s a worthwhile
investment. Sites like Facebook are large enough and grow-ing quickly enough that they should not be ignored. Having a presence on a social networking site is swiftly becoming
as important as having a web site. The social media sites are, in a sense, an extension of a traditional web site. Face-book’s functionality, viral nature and large user base makes
it an ideal marketing platform for many different types of organizations.
TIPS FROM THE TRENCHES
Here are three important tips:
1.Don’t create a fake account. Be genuine.
2.Check the insights feature of the Facebook pages reg-ularly to see how well your business page is doing.
3.Link to your Facebook page from your business web site and from other online materials. Build reach within your community.
Creating Connections on LinkedIn
If you’re a business professional, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of LinkedIn and have already registered as a user. LinkedIn is a web site for professional social network-ing; the average age of users on the site is 41. Unlike other
social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, which focus on a broad set of users, LinkedIn is all about busi-ness. As we write this, it has amassed over 20 million users.
The LinkedIn basics are similar to Facebook. You register for an account and build out your profile including a brief summary or bio, employment history and academic creden-tials. Like most social networks, LinkedIn also allows you to connect to others. In the case of LinkedIn, this is most often work colleagues.
This information about millions of people, including their connections, is what makes LinkedIn such a power-ful tool. Let’s say you’re looking for a new position as a
VP of Marketing at a specific organization. LinkedIn allows you to search its database and find people at that com-pany whom you are somehow connected to. What makes
this particularly useful is that you don’t have to be directly connected to these individuals, as LinkedIn finds a path between you and those with whom you want to connect.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to connect to the CEO of a specific company. You don’t actually know the CEO, but someone in your immediate list of connections does—in fact, a colleague of yours from a prior job is now report-ing directly to this CEO. LinkedIn allows you to request a virtual introduction through one or more intermediate con-nections. This is a powerful way to leverage LinkedIn’s social network to connect with people for mutual interest and gain.
BUILDING A LINKEDIN GROUP
Groups are a relatively new, but very powerful feature of the LinkedIn system. A LinkedIn Group is essentially an online community of people interested in a particular topic
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(whatever the focus of the group is). Over 250,000 differ-ent Groups on LinkedIn cover a wide range of topics. We have a Group, Inbound Marketers, which happens to be
one of the top 50 groups on the system with over 25,000 members.
Starting a Group is quick, easy, and free. If you have not already done so, determine if a Group already exists that focuses on your industry or area of interest. To do this, you
can use the Groups search feature by clicking the drop down arrow next to the “Search People” field in the top right corner of the application (see Figure 7.2). Select “Search
Groups” from the list of available searches and then enter some keywords that describe the kinds of groups you’re looking for.
Figure 7.3 shows the results from a sample search for “small business.” (Notice when you do your own search that the “OnStartups” group is the number one result with
59,459 members. Dharmesh is the creator of this Group and of the 250,000+ Groups, it is one of the top five largest.)
Once you start browsing through the list of available Groups, determine whether there’s an opportunity to cre-ate a specific one for your industry. Even if you find existing
groups, the opportunity still exists if the Groups haven’t been well managed or haven’t caught on yet (look for
Groups with 500 or fewer members). You might also con-sider creating a group for your specific company/brand.
There’s little downside to doing this and a fair amount of potential upside. When creating your Group, pick a name that describes your topic of interest and is something that
people will potentially want to be a member of. A conve-nient way to think of great Group names is to try to complete this sentence:
I am a proud member of …..
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There’s a reason this is important. When people join your group, by default, a small logo/badge for your group shows up on that user’s personal profile. The clearer it is
who your group is for and why someone might want to be a member, the more likely they are to join. For example, one of the groups we’ve created is named “Inbound Marketers.” For the people in our target market (professional marketers), it’s
easy to see how they’d want to have a badge on their profile that says “Inbound Marketers.”
When writing the description of your Group, make sure to include your most important keywords. This way, when people use the LinkedIn search feature to find Groups of
interest, yours is more likely to show up. The Group search function in LinkedIn is much simpler than Google’s. The way it currently works is that all Groups containing the search
term in their title or description are shown in descending order of size (number of members). As with many other online channels, size counts. You want to attract as many
members to your Group as possible.
Promote your Group through your available channels. Put it in your e-mail signature. Highlight it on your web site. Write a blog article about it. Send it out in your next
quarterly newsletter. Post discussions from your Group to Twitter. The name of the game is to get people to join your Group. The more people that join, the more people will
see your Group’s badge on other people’s user profiles. The more people that see your badge, the more people join. This creates what is known as a “virtuous cycle”—success leads to more success.
Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn also has an advertising product called “DirectAds” which allows you to buy ads online. You can target ads based on user attributes such as
company size, industry, gender, and geography. Ads can be purchased on a CPMbasis (how many people will the ad be shown to) or on a CPC basis (how many people click on the ads). Based on your budget, Direct Ads might be a good way to get some initial traction for your Group, which in turn helps you attract even more members.
Once you have a Group with members, be sure to build vlue in being a member of it. First, and most importantly, LinkedIn allows you to send an e-mail to all Group mem-bers. This is very easy to do since the e-mail is sent from the LinkedIn.com domain. As a result, this e-mail message has a pretty high deliver ability rate (meaning it’s less likely to get caught in spam filters). LinkedIn’s Group messaging capabil-ity is a great way to update the Group and share information.
As is the case with any mass communication mechanism, you should be thoughtful as to how often you send messages and what you write in the messages. You don’t want to send something too frequently or be selling too hard, at the risk of seeming spammy. Next, post messages to the discussion area of your Group. Although this capability is available to all the Group members, as the administrator, you’ll have
the ability to “pin” your particular posts to the discussion forum so that they always show up at the top and don’t scroll off. This way, you get more prominent placement for
your discussions and they’re more likely to be seen.
In addition to LinkedIn Groups, LinkedIn also provides a powerful way for its users to collaborate and help each other through “LinkedIn Answers.” To access this feature, click on the “Answers” link at the top of the LinkedIn.com page (see Figure 7.4).
Get Found in Social Media
You can do two things inside LinkedIn Answers: You can ask a question of the community or you can answer questions others have asked (see Figure 7.5).
Let’s say, for example, you’re starting a new business and you want to know whether you should incorporate as a C-Corp, an S-Corp or an LLC. You would type your ques-tion into the “Ask a Question” box. You’d then be asked to categorize your question (see Figure 7.6).
There are many different categories (and sub-categories) into which questions can be classified.
Asking questions is certainly a useful activity, and you are encouraged to use this feature to tap into the wisdom and expertise of the LinkedIn community. However, to market
your business and get found, you need to answer questions and help out the community. The benefit of this (beyond the positive karma you might build) is that you establish yourself as an expert and have an opportunity to drive visitors to your
The first step in this process is to find the categories and sub-categories that are most relevant to you. Let’s say your area of expertise is tax law. In this case, there’s the major
category called “Lawand Legal” andwithin that category is a sub-category called “Tax Law.” You can find these categories and sub-categories by looking at the “Browse” box within the LinkedIn Answers home page (see Figure 7.7). Click on the category that is most relevant for you, and see if there’s a sub-category that also fits.
Once you’ve picked your category, you’ll see the open questions in that category. An open question is one that still allows people to submit answers. In addition to browsing
through the list of questions in a category, you’ll want to subscribe to the RSS feed for it. We covered how to use RSS and subscribe to feeds earlier in the book. Subscribing to
the feed allows you to automatically receive updates (in your RSS reader) anytime someone submits a question to that category. This is a powerful way to monitor activity in your chosen category.
If you come across a question that’s in your area of exper-tise, and you have a good answer for it, the next step is to answer it. (See Figure 7.8.)
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A few tips to keep in mind when answering a question:
1.Only answer questions that you can answer well. The goal of this exercise is to increase your credibility.
This doesn’t work if you don’t have a particularly good answer.
2.Don’t put your name or your company name in the answer because LinkedIn automatically shows this information whenever you answer a question.
3.If you have written a previous blog article or know of other related information on the Web that provides
more detail about the question, add it to one of the “Web Resources” boxes.
4.If you don’t have a great answer to the question, but know someone who might, use the “Suggest Expert” feature. This allows you to help get the question
answered and builds goodwill. Further, this helps you build recognition with the experts you suggest.
Get Found in Social Media
As you participate in the community and answer ques-tions, you’ll build trust and authority. The user that submits a question gets to select which answer of those submit-ted is the best answer. So, your goal should be to provide answers that get selected as the best within your chosen cat-egory. Once you do this, LinkedIn will highlight the areas
in which you’ve provided the best answers both in your primary profile and in the bio box that shows up next to your responses. In Figure 7.9, you’ll see that Dharmesh
provided “Best Answers” in the category of Internet Marketing.
Gathering Followers on Twitter
Twitter has quickly become a world wide phenomenon with millions of current users and tens of thousands of new users joining ever day. Although Twitter is described in dif-ferent ways, the most common description is that Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. If you’re wondering what a micro-blog is, the answer is simple: you post “articles” in
real time (like a blog), but each “article” is a maximum of 140 characters. Users on Twitter post these short updates, which are also called “tweets.” You can post tweets from the Twitter web site, a mobile device (using SMS text mes-saging), or any number of custom applications built by third
parties. Who sees these tweets? By default, they’re posted publicly (so anyone can see them). In practice, they’re most often noticed by others users who are following the person posting the tweet (see Figure 7.10).
Early uses of Twitter were basically akin to the status updates feature in Facebook. Twitter users posted quick updates, which answered the question the Twitter web site
asks: “What are you doing?” The result was a seemingly endless stream of short updates about what people were doing in their regular lives: where they were having lunch, what movie they were going to see, and just about anything
else. As Twitter use evolved, the types of messages began to be more diverse. Instead of answering the “what are you doing” question, more people began posting information,
links, and reactions to this information and to world events as they happened in real time. Conversations started to take place. Today, Twitter is used in many different ways by a variety of people and age groups.
Our first reaction to Twitter when we encountered it was the same reaction many people have: “How is this use-ful? Why do I care what other people are having for lunch?
How is this going to help me grow my business?” Like many busy business people,we initially dismissed Twitter because it seemed unlikely that a steady stream of tweets about the minutiae of daily existence could somehow help us market our business better. But, surprisingly, it works! We’re now
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big believers in the usefulness of Twitter. Sure, there is still a relatively high volume of tweets that do little more than tell us what someone is having for lunch, but amongst these are conversations that we’d consider useful. People ask ques-tions about products or services, customers post reviews, conference attendees tweet live updates live from a session, to mention a few.
GETTING STARTED WITH TWITTER
If you don’t yet have a Twitter account, your first step is to create one. Twitter has one of the simplest registration systems out there and it takes just a minute to get up and
running. You must first decide whether you should create a user name based on your name or the name of your company.
We suggest making your primary account be based on your name. But, we think you should also create an account for your business. Accounts are free, and even if you don’t think you’re going to need a Twitter account for your business, it doesn’t hurt to go ahead and reserve the name before someone else does.
Like most social media sites, Twitter lets you complete an online profile. We’d suggest that you go ahead and take a few minutes to complete your profile. This would include a
photo, a link to your web site, a short bio/summary of your-self and your location. We’ve found that the more complete your profile is, the more likely it is that people will connect
to you. The next step is to post a few tweets. Don’t be overly concerned about the quality of your tweets—you’re not looking to win awards for your writing skills. Share some
useful information or insightful comment. In the early days of your Twitter use, things will be a bit frustrating,
because until you build a base of followers, very few peo-ple will see your tweets and you’ll feel like you’re talking to yourself. That’s OK. The goal of these initial tweets is
to have some content in your Twitter account. You need this before you start reaching out and connecting to oth-ers and building a following. The kinds of people you likely
want as followers are unlikely to follow you if they see that you have a sparse or empty Twitter account. They have no way of knowing whether your interests overlap with
BUILDING A FOLLOWING
Like most social media sites, Twitter also has the concept of friends. Other users on Twitter can follow you. When they do this, your tweets are shown to them. Similarly,
you can also follow other users and, as a result, see their tweets within your Twitter stream. Note that unlike Face-book, where a connection has to be reciprocal, Twitter
allows one-way relationships. This means you can follow people, but they don’t have to follow you back for you to see their tweets. In any case, if you want your tweets to be
seen, you will need to build a following.
Once you have your Twitter account, begin seeking out other users who are relevant. One way to do this is to use the search feature of Twitter Grader (http://twitter.grader.com).
Twitter Grader is a free tool that measures the power and reach of a Twitter user. The search feature of Twitter Grader lets you enter keywords related to your industry and find the most influential Twitter users that match that search term.
Use this search feature to find other users to follow and engage with. You will find that you will slowly start to build your own set of followers.
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MONITORING YOUR BRAND AND INDUSTRY
Another good way to find people to follow is to use the search function on Twitter and search for your brand and the terms you associate with your industry. For example,
if you’re a left-handed monkey wrench manufacturer, you can search Twitter for the word “wrench.” When you do, you will discover that a lot of people on Twitter are talk-ing about wrenches. You can then follow people interested in wrenches and engage in meaningful, helpful conversa-tions. If the name of your wrench is “lefty-wrench,” then
do a search for mentions of “ lefty-wrench” to see what people are saying about your brand, Follow these people and engage in conversation with them—no matter if their
comments are positive or negative. This is an activity you should do regularly in order to stay on top of your brand and to influence your marketplace.
THE TYRANNY OF TWITTER BOTS
Several online tools let you put Twitter on auto-pilot for var-ious activities. For example, you can program one of these tools to automatically follow back anyone that follows you.
Some even allow you to programatically follow hundreds or thousands of users. The motivation behind using these kinds of tools is to help you amass a large number of followers in a short amount of time. Personally, we don’t agree with these
approaches. Our argument is not one of high moral or ethi-cal ground (though we could certainly make the case for that too, if we tried), but rather such automated means do not help with your real goal as an inbound marketer—to build productive relationships. These bulk following activities are akin to showing up at a business networking event and judg-ing your success by how many business cards you can hand
out to as many random people as possible. Though you may certainly get some hits in terms of people that have actual interest in your company, the most probable outcome is that you have little activity and low results. What’s worse, you risk putting yourself in a negative light to those that matter.
Our advice: stay away from robotic approaches to building relationships online. Social networks are about being social and building genuine relationships for mutual gain.
Driving Traffic with Digg
Traditional print media, such as newspapers and magazines,
usually has an editorial process. Editors pick which arti-cles will be published on the front page based primarily
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on the anticipated interest from consumers. As mainstream media is being increasingly fragmented by niche-media sites like blogs, we are seeing a change in the editorial process.
Instead of editors choosing articles for the front page from a possible pool of articles written by professionals, social news sites aggregate content from tens of thousands of
smaller sites and let the readers decide what will show up on the front page.
Currently, the best example of this change is the social news site Digg (digg.com). Much like a big newspaper, Digg has hundreds of thousands of readers who visit the site to
find the best articles across a variety of topics, such as poli-tics, entertainment, and technology. However, these articles are not written by Digg editors or journalists, they’re culled from thousands of different web sites and submitted toDigg
by the readers/users themselves. Further, instead of an edi-tor deciding which articles will be shown on Digg’s home page or the topic overview pages, the users themselves
decide through a simple voting process. Any Digg user can vote a submitted article up or down based on whether they liked the article or not. Ultimately, those articles that get the most votes are selected automatically to be shown on the Digg front page. As with a regular newspaper, articles on the front page are read by many more users than an article buried deep inside. Once an article hits the front page of Digg, it drives significant web traffic back to the site from which the article originated.
Social news sites like Digg are an exceptionally powerful way for businesses to spread their content (such as articles, photos, and videos) to large masses of users. Articles that
get visibility on the front page of Digg can get over 25,000 views in a single day, a level of web traffic that exceeds what many web sites would get in an entire year. These readers
are also much more connected and influential than average web users. Often, they are bloggers themselves and can help spread the article on other social media sites, generating even more traffic.
As you might guess, getting on the front page of Digg is not easy. Readers submit thousands of articles to Digg every day and only a small fraction of those make it to the front page. How many “diggs” or votes it takes for an article to make the front page varies, based on the competition and how many buries (or down-votes) the article gets. Many people believe that a small group of core Digg users will bury an article they don’t think is worthy just as it comes close to the front page—a frustrating experience, as we’ve had this happen several times. If your article makes the front page, you get tens of thousands of visitors. But, if your article doesn’t get promoted to the front page (even if it gets very, very close), you’ll get a negligible amount of traffic. It’s feast or famine.
Having said that, although it’s hard to make the Digg front page, it’s certainly not impossible and there are things you can do to improve your chances of breaking through.
Before submitting articles, spend time familiarizing yourself with the community and submitting content other than your own. Digg other articles that you find interesting and engage in the conversation by commenting on articles others have submitted that you’re interested in.
Connect to other users on Digg that share your interests. To do this, just find articles related to your business that have
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made it to the front page. Befriend the users that submitted the article, digg it, or commented on it. Subscribe to the RSS feed of your friends list. This allows you to automatically get updated when someone on your friends list submits an arti-cle. Be sure to review this list periodically and digg articles of interest. Just as you’re watching your friends and helping them, people will begin befriending you back and watching
WRITE EXCEPTIONAL TITLES
The title of an article you submit to Digg is very important.
A great title draws attention and interest. Often, busy Digg users will up-vote articles based only on the title and will not read the article. Even a truly great article with a lousy
title is unlikely to succeed. Spend the time to write winning titles. We discussed the process of writing great titles earlier in the blogging chapter.
USE THE DIGG BUTTON
On your blog or web site where your content exists, be sure to put a “digg button.” (See Figure 7.11.) This button allows those reading your article to submit or vote on the
article without leaving your site. Also, the button shows how many diggs the article has already received.
TRY POPULAR FORMATS AND TOPICS
The Digg community favors certain topics and styles, such as how-to articles or “list” type articles—for example “22 Ways To Save A Bundle On Your Next Business Trip.”Another favored topic is anything related to Apple—many Digg users
are fans of the company. The Digg community is a rather technical crowd, so articles that appeal to the geekier side of society tend to resonate best. Try to write something
about your area of interest that hits one of these hot spots.
SUBMIT ONLY THE BEST
Don’t waste your time and credibility trying to submit all of your articles to Digg. Pick only the very best. Also filter out those articles that are unlikely to do well on Digg, such
as something that’s specific to your company or a product announcement. The Digg community has a particularly keen nose for smelling self-promotion and burying it. Also keep in mind that if you submit a high volume of your own articles
that are down-voted by the community, there is a chance that you could get banned from Digg. Once this happens, no articles from your web site can be submitted to Digg by
you or any other user.
DON’T GET BANNED
In the early days of your Digg use, it will be tempting to really try and game the system. A common example is to only submit your own content and then get everyone in
your company to register on Digg and to up-vote your con-tent. This type of activity is relatively easily to detect—your content will never stand a chance of making it to the front
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page. At worst, your web site could get banned from Digg, after which none of your future content can ever be sub-mitted to Digg by anyone.
Being Discovered with StumbleUpon
Although Digg has the ability to drive a significant amount
of traffic, you’re faced with two challenges: One, it’s excep-tionally hard to make it onto the front page, and in order to get there, you need great content, powerful friends, and a
little bit of luck. Two, unless you make the front page, sub-mitting your article to Digg is not going to generate much traffic for you. Enter StumbleUpon, another way to drive traf-fic to your best content through its network of over seven million registered users.
StumbleUpon is known as a social discovery site, as it helps you discover new content that you might like. Like most social media sites, it’s free to use, and it’s pretty easy
to get started. Your first step is to register and create an account, at which point you indicate your areas of inter-est from over 100 different topic areas. You then download
and install the StumbleUpon toolbar for your browser. Once installed, the toolbar shows up right within your browser (see Figure 7.12) and on the toolbar you’ll find a number of
buttons, the first of which is “Stumble!” When you click on the “Stumble!” button, you’re taken automatically to a different web page from the one you’re on.
Which page you are taken to depends on several things, but primarily it depends on what you like and how popular the page is amongst the StumbleUpon user community. Once you’re on the site, you can choose to up-vote it by clicking the “I Like It” button on the toolbar, or you can down-vote it by clicking the “Thumbs Down” button. In this regard,StumbleUpon is very much like Digg. As you might sus-pect, web pages that get more up-votes are shown to more users.
Like Digg, a web page that gets many StumbleUpon up-votes receive thousands of visitors. However, StumbleUpon has one important difference. As discussed earlier, with
Digg, if your article gets enough votes to make the front page, you get tens of thousands of visitors, but if you don’t
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make the front page, you get almost nothing at all. With StumbleUpon, you get gradually more traffic as you get more up-votes because there’s no concept of a front page. This is
good, because if you have moderately good content that just a few people up-vote, you’ll still see a noticeable increase in traffic. The more positive votes you get, the more traffic
you get. The other advantage of StumbleUpon is that the traffic it sends is longer lasting than Digg. In most cases, traffic from Digg, even for a front-page article, diminishes
considerably after the second or third day. With Stumble-Upon, traffic continues to be sent for a long time. We have popular articles from our blog submitted over two years ago that are still getting traffic from StumbleUpon!
MORE TIPS FROM THE TRENCHES
To use StumbleUpon successfully, use these tips:
1.Get to know all the basic categories available and select the ones that are the most relevant for your profile. This causes you to stumble into content that
is more interesting to you.
2.When first starting, resist the temptation to submit your own content. Simply use StumbleUpon to find interesting content (that’s what it’s designed for). Up-vote things you like.
3.Begin making friends. Of particular interest to you are those people who were the initial stumblers that first found a web page that you found interesting. These
users have shared interests with you and are more likely to up-vote your content.
4.Consider running a small paid advertising campaign on StumbleUpon (they charge about $0.05 per web site visitor—but you can target based on their visitors
area of interest). This is often a cheap way to figure out whether a particular piece of content is likely to be a candidate for going viral on the Web.
Getting Found in YouTube
YouTube was an extremely popular web site even before Google acquired the company for $1.65 billion. Since then, its spectacular growth has continued and today it’s one of
the top 10 most-frequented sites on the Internet. Let’s look at some quick numbers:
- In the month January, 2009 alone, 147 million U.S.Internet users watched an average of 101 videos per person.
- More than 100 million videos are viewed each day.
- YouTube is the most popular video site on the Inter-net. Google has 43 percent of the online video market,and YouTube makes up 99 percent of that. Other sites,such as Fox Interactive and Yahoo!, trail by a large margin, with less than 5 percent of the market each.
You should also note that YouTube is not just about hilar-ious videos of kittens doing crazy things (though that genre has proven to be a perennial favorite). You can find many dif-ferent types of popular videos, including “How To,” “Expert Interviews,” and even funny commercials (but they have to be really funny).
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The first step with getting started with YouTube is to set up an account for your business (e.g., http://www.youtube.com/ your company). When creating an account, you should pick
a name that matches your business name because this name will also become the name of your YouTube channel. The next step is to start posting remarkable videos (uploading
video is pretty straightforward), which YouTube hosts for free—meaning you don’t have to worry about bandwidth or storage costs.
We’ve outlined some ways you can create remarkable videos.
Record conversations with some of your best customers; have them share experiences and information that you think would be interesting to future customers. Though it’s OK
for your customers to talk about your business, don’t force it. The goal is not to get a testimonial, but to have them share information that would be useful to others.
Find experts in your industry and record interviews with
them. It is often easier to get people to agree to be inter-viewed in a podcast or video than to write a guest article for your blog.
Videos are a great way to educate people, so it pays to build a library of short videos that your target audience would find interesting and helpful to their jobs.
The key to success on YouTube, as is the case with other inbound marketing channels we’ve talked about, is to pro-duce remarkable content that people will want to watch
and share. Though you can certainly produce a video that’s nothing more than a boring commercial for your product or service, it’s unlikely to get many views (except maybe your mother, but even she is expecting more amusement from
her Web experience these days).Recording short, high-quality videos can be done with
most modern digital cameras. Even somewhat specialized video cams can be purchased relatively inexpensively. With a small amount of preparation and practice, you can, with
relatively little expense and experience, record videos and share them with audiences on the Web. Posting to YouTube is fast and easy and no extensive editing is required.
Once your video is available on YouTube, you’ll need to drive traffic to it. This is done using the same channels you’d use to promote any of the content you produce—your
web site, your blog, and your social media accounts. One of the more useful features that YouTube provides is the ability to embed videos right within a web page, so that
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users don’t even have to go to YouTube to view them. We use this feature to add our videos to our blog—in addi-tion, we write content around the videos. By putting your
YouTube videos in your blog articles, you’re ensuring that at least your blog subscribers will see them. As you might expect, YouTube also has a search feature that allows people to find videos relating to specific topics. This works simi-larly to Google, but is much simpler. When optimizing your videos for a YouTube search, be sure to create a descriptive, attention-getting title and description—that also includes
your keywords YouTube has an analytics feature built into their prod-uct that allows you to see how many times your video was viewed and where it was viewed (on the YouTube web site, embedded on your page, etc.).
TIPS FROM THE TRENCHES
Here are four additional suggestions for getting maximum use from YouTube:
1.Experiment! You won’t know what kinds of videos will engage your potential audience until you try.
2.Don’t try to be perfect or overly polished. You do not need a professional video producer to create content for your business. Don’t put too much money into a
single video; spread your bets across several different ones and learn as you go.
3.Don’t invest too much in expensive equipment. Most current video cameras and microphones will do just fine.
4.YouTube recently added a feature allowing you to add captions and clickable areas to your video. Use these to link your videos together.
Tracking Your Progress
With your Facebook fan page, track the number of fans you have and how that number is changing over time. Facebook has a feature called “insights” that lets you look at this data. If you have a LinkedIn Group for your business, track how many members your Group has. Do a search for your industry keywords using the Group search feature to see
how your Group ranks. This will give you a sense of how prominent your Group is within your industry.
For Twitter, track your Twitter Grade (http://twitter .grader.com). This measures your power and reach within Twitter by looking at your number of followers, the power
of those followers, and the degree to which you’re able to engage the Twitter community and get people to read and respond to your messages. You should be able to get to
a grade of 90/100 or higher with some modest effort and participation.
On YouTube, look at how many people are watching your channel. Do you get tens, hundreds, or thousands of views per video? Which types of video seem to be doing
better than others?
Inbound in Action: Fresh Books
Fresh Books, the leader in online invoicing software, has a community of over 800,000 people who use Fresh books to send, receive, print, and pay invoices. According to Michael McDerment, CEO of Fresh Books, although Fresh Books is
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technically a software company, it thinks of itself as a service company delivering an experience.
To remind the team of the company’s focus and mission, FreshBooks uses a concept known as 4E, which stands for “Execute on Extraordinary Experiences Everyday.” It’s this focus on delivering an experience that helps FreshBooks spread their brand online and has people talking about them. According to McDerment, customers are more likely
to talk about their phenomenal experience with FreshBooks than they are about any specific capabilities of the software.
FreshBooks jumped into Twitter in January, 2008 when they realized people were tweeting about the company and because they wanted to make it easier for their cus-to mers to communicate with them. The company now has over over 3,400 followers and posts updates regularly (see Figure 7.13).
McDerment says, “While we answer questions and do support and hold contests on Twitter, we really just see Twitter as another way to deepen relationships with our
customers. The truth is, while we collect dollars for the service thatweoffer, thecurrencyof our business is relation-ships. Twitter, our blog, and our forums all help us share our
culture with the world and learn more about our customers themselves. We like that.”
McDerment further commented, “We started using Twit-ter because we saw that people were talking about us there.In fact, it freaked people out at first when they’d hear from us! We have forums, a blog, we do a lot of e-mail and events, and we answer the phone. We just want to make it easy for people to communicate with us. Users choose the
medium they like and we make it easy to connect. You know something really cool about our twittering? Now people are helping us do the support and question answering—it’s
amazing! So now what we are learning is to listen and let others do the talking.”
One issue many businesses struggle with in social media is determining the right balance between personal and pro-fessional. When employees are representing the company online, what policies and guidelines should there be in place? Do companies really have a say in what an employee might post to their Twitter account if the post is not related to the business? The FreshBooks approach to this problem is simple and refreshing. The company recognizes that they are hiring people into the company that often already have their own online network developed (we discuss this later
in the book when we talk about recruiting great people). FreshBooks encourages their employees to be themselves. “We don’t want people to put on their work face,” says
McDerment, “we just want them to be themselves. So we try to stay out of the way of our team for the most part. Many of our customers are brought in through the personal rela-tionships of our team members—people we meet at events, customers, friends, networks. Folks tend to use their per-sonal profiles when participating where there are personal relationships.”
- Tell your story—that’s what people respond to.
- Participate—follow up quickly to comments. Always remember you are setting the tone for your community.
- Be open and treat people as you would like to be treated. This builds trust, which is the foundation of any great relationship…and social media is all about building relationships.
- Listen—the greatest thing about communities is that they serve as a living, breathing focus group. If you lis-ten right you can probably learn everything you need to know about your business.
- Finally—social media is a long road and away of doing business; it’s not a campaign. It needs long-term fund-ing, support, and organizational commitment. The results will not be easy to tie to direct outcomes (read:sales), but the impact of a community that is well-nurtured grows exponentially.
1.If you’ve somehow managed to resist signing up for Facebook, despite requests from your friends and fam-ily, go ahead and do it.
2.Create a business page (also known as a fan page).
3.Configure a sub-domain that redirects to your Face-book page (example:http://facebook.yourcompany.com). This will make it easy for you to communicate the URL of your page.
4.The next time you host a business event (conference, webinar, training session, etc.), use Facebook events to invite people and get RSVPs.
5.Look for your existing business contacts on Facebook.Invite them to connect with you.
6.Make sure your LinkedIn profile is 100 percent com-plete. Link your profile to your business web site and blog.
7.Set up a business page for your company onFacebook.
8.Download and install the StumbleUpon toolbar.
9.Create a LinkedIn user account and profile. If you already have one, make sure to update it so that it is current.
10.Within the profile, add a link to your company’s web site. When you add this link, be sure to specify the anchor text (the text that users can click on) instead of accepting the default.
11.Use the group search feature to find the biggest groups in your industry. Join these groups and start participat-ing in the discussion.
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12.If you don’t find a group that’s focused on your indus-try, or the group is still small (<500 members), create a new group.
13.Find the most relevant categories for your business and subscribe to the LinkedIn Answers RSS feed for them.
14.Make sure that you have reserved your company name as your Twitter username. Even though you may not elect to maintain separate Twitter accounts for your-self and your business, you should at least create an account for your business. It’s free, it’s easy, and you might need it later.
15.Ensure that you complete your online profile includ-ing a brief bio, your location (City, State is sufficient) and a link to your web site. Many people on Twitter
are looking for interesting people to follow.Make sure they can find you.
16.Use tools like Twitter Search and the search feature on Twitter Grader (http://twitter.grader.com) to find influential Twitter users in your industry. Begin forg-ing connections early.
17.Create an account for yourself onDigg. Come up with a catchy and memorable username. Normally, we sug-gest remaining consistent with your usernames, but
in this case, we advise not using your business name.
Commercial-sounding names don’t do as well inDigg. Your articles will get dugg less often, or worse, they could get buried (down-voted).
18.Subscribe to the RSS feed for whichever category is most relevant to you (likely the business/finance cat-egory). This way, you can see popular articles.
19.When you see an article that you like and that’s relevant to your business, befriend the person that submitted it. If the article is very relevant, review
some of the other users that have dugg the article and befriend them too.
20.Subscribe to the RSS feed of your friends’ submissions.
This way, you can track what they are submitting. Digg those articles from your friends that you like. Comment on one article a day.
21.Start submitting third-party articles that you think are exceptional. Make sure to write a great description and put it in the right category.
22.Create a StumbleUpon user account and download the toolbar.
23.Select the categories that are the most relevant to your business.
24.Start “stumbling” (click the Stumble button in the tool-bar). Up-vote sites you like, down-vote those that you don’t.
25.When you come across interesting web sites or arti-cles, submit them to StumbleUpon (don’t submit your own yet). Do this by clicking the “Thumbs Up” button
in the toolbar when on the page.
26.Begin befriending those that are submitting sites that you find highly relevant. Start building your friend list.