Whether you’re one of the two candidates to be the next President of the United States or a plumber looking to expand the reaches of his service area, your identity online can define what you do elsewhere. A recent analysis of the Technorati Top 20 blogs suggests that there is a small amount of correlation between the amount of mentions on three large social media sites compared to where they list in the Technorati Top 20. However, if your blog or website doesn’t have a lot of readers or traffic, can you still make an impact? Absolutely. Here’s how.
Social Media Consideration
Do your research and consider your primary target audience before delving knee-deep into social overload. Establishing a primary target audience will better enable you to define your content. Submissions to Digg and Mixx, for example, are likely to create a lot of traffic that bounces. The demographic of the users of Digg and Mixx could get you a lot of one-time traffic (if you make the front page); however, the likelihood that those users will stick around to see if there’s any other useful information on your website is next to none.
The very nature of Digg is socially Darwinistic in nature. This leads to often controversial and outright falsified stories, as marketers try and game the system. However, I think we have to take a step back and assess whether we would rather have a record number of hits resulting in a downed server, or a rise in targeted traffic resulting in increased ROI.
Websites like delicious and StumbleUpon are much more community-centric. The establishment of friends who share and recommend similar interests is much more likely to attract users who will stick around and read the content on your website. The nature in finding something you like on a site and it’s being shared, rather than voted for, takes away an ulterior motive and replaces it with the user’s having the desire to search your site.
Social Media Participation
The concept of User Generated Content (UGC) is not a recent development. It’s human nature to want to reach out and become a part of something. Only recently has it come to the forethought in the online world. Where many companies fail in the participation side of social media is that the communication is one-sided. A company which grasps the concept of social media will generate, take ownership of and benefit from the multiple streams of communication.
An excuse some companies use for not participating in social media is the negative feedback they could receive. Unless you’re an ostrich, sticking your head in the ground and pretending that your problems don’t exist (or even worse, not wanting them to be addressed) is completely missing the point. Unless you are aware of the problematic aspects surrounding your company, how do you expect to improve or grow? Only taking in positive feedback and ignoring the negative is no better than surrounding yourself with yes men. The very companies avoiding social media are the ones who should be embracing it.
Media outlets, retailers, airlines, authors and manufacturers have all gotten in on the social media bandwagon and in particular, the Twitter brand index. There is a general conception that users of social media outlets are geeks or teens hidden away living in their grandmother’s basement. Not so, according to Hitwise UK. Four of the most visited sites in the UK are social media websites. In addition, over 50% of MySpace users are over 35. As internet users mature, the connection becomes less general and more about community participation, and that’s a huge community not to be involved with.
Social Media Evaluation
A evaluation period is a necessary step in measuring your campaign. You should measure your success based on the following:
- Engagement — How did you engage your audience?
- Influence — Did your sphere of online influence increase?
- Reputation — Do more people pay attention to your message?
- Sentiment — How do they feel about it?
- Search Visibility — Was there an increase in organic traffic?
- Conversion — Was there an increase in conversions?
The last item, conversions, is particularly important, because it goes back to the first reason for establishing a social media presence — to drive targeted traffic to your website. Unfortunately, that’s one of the hardest things to track. The main way we track conversions is by using the Analytics conversion code from Raven. We record all of the links we build in Raven’s Link Manager and then place the Raven conversion tracking code on our result page. Then we view reports on how many conversions were created from our link building efforts. It provides us with a fairly accurate SEO ROI report and gives us an indication of how well our social media campaigns are performing.