At PubCon last week in beautiful Las Vegas, much of the emphasis was placed on the importance of using social media as a way to leverage any search engine optimization strategy. After talking with some people in the last week, it seems that there’s some confusion between social media and viral marketing / link baiting.
Social Media versus Viral Marketing / Link Baiting
Social media and viral marketing / link baiting are not one in the same. In order to use social media as a platform, you must first have some piece of viral marketing because social media sites use networking to share information (your viral marketing piece or link bait) with other users based on popularity. Without compelling content, social media sites don’t mean much.
Here are my Top Five Social Media Marketing Sites:
This is based on my personal preference only. There are many other social media sites, including niche social media sites as well.
Four Steps to Launch a Successful Social Media Marketing Campaign
1. Be patient. It’s important to build profiles on these pages prior to launching viral content. Users of these social media sites are very savvy and are very anti-marketers, and they see some online marketers as spammers. They will bury your content faster than a dog with a new bone if they think you’re just trying to promote something. So here’s what you do: join the sites, look around, make friends, vote on submissions, and submit articles/sites that are of interest to you.
Plan on spending a few weeks or even months on building up your social media profiles before you launch your content.
2. Target your audience with relevant content. Once you’ve established yourself in the social media communities, you’ll want to tailor your content to each specific audience. Because you’re active on the sites, you’ll know what’s interesting and what goes hot. Michael Gray gave a great analogy about writing viral content for a painting company: write about how to paint the logo on the Digg site; write about how to pick an eco-friendly paint for Hugg.com; write about painting your living room in a weekend on the Lifehacker.com site; write about how paint color reflects your personality on Propeller.com; and so on.
You wouldn’t want to use an article or video on how to paint your mansion if the site readers are 20-30 somethings living in their parents’ basements.
3. Time it just right. Timing is critical in launching your content. You’ll want to write about tax savings in the winter just before tax season begins, about how to do spring cleaning before spring begins, etc. If what you write isn’t timed right, then it will most certainly fail. It’s crucial that the content be relevant to the time it’s launched. One relatively easy way to do this is to use current events. By staying up on recent news, you can potentially hit the jackpot with your viral content. Most users of social media sites are very up-to-date with current events and could see your piece as relevant to what’s going on.
Using current events as the basis of your content will help in getting your piece to break into popularity.
4. Hope that lady luck is on your side. If you have great content and target your audiences on your social media sites, there’s still a chance that your piece won’t go hot. The community has to be ready to receive your message, and oftentimes, that’s completely out of your control. It reminds me of watching Mystere by Cirque du Soleil (free tickets courtesy of Treasure Island!). The two-hour show was full of amazing and truly unbelievable acts of human strength and talent. I honestly could have clapped for the entire duration of the show. However, you have to wait for the right moment to begin to clap.
You don’t want to be the lone clapper, slowing bringing your hands together in hopes that others pick up. If others don’t want to pick up your content, you’ll be the lone marketer.
Play The Cards You’re Dealt
Once you have built up your profile on the social media sites, have written pieces targeting specific audiences, have timed your content using current events, and have rubbed your rabbit’s foot or kissed your four-leaf clover, it’s time to sit back and watch. While your first social media marketing campaign may not work out as you’d have hoped, don’t lose hope. As with anything, practice makes perfect.
Keep working on your content and keep launching it, and eventually, the odds will be in your favor and will deal you a winning hand.