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Five Blunders with Social News and Bookmarking

Posted on Apr 30th, 2007
Written by Lee Odden
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    Listen. Can you hear it? All the buzz about social media marketing? What you might not know is that with all that sound there’s an awful lot of noise. That difficulty manifests itself in the form of basic misconceptions, blunders and flat out mistakes when trying to participate and market with social news and bookmarking sites.

    Here are a few common and basic social media news and bookmarking mistakes to watch out for:

    1. Submitting press releases to social news sites. This is social media suicide, but there are marketers and PR practitioners out there endorsing the submission of press releases to social news as if it’s the same thing as submitting press releases to news search engines. It’s not the same thing at all.

    This kind of content gets the most play at social news communities when it is coverage of an announcement, not the actual news release. Rather than submitting a press release to Digg, Netscape, Reddit, etc, focus on getting a popular blogger to write about your news. Once that happens, draw attention to the bloggers’ coverage of your news via social news and bookmark sites.

    When your company gets picked up in online media, you should be using using web based bookmarks as a clipping service anyway.

    2. Add every social bookmarking icon you can think of to the bottom of your blog posts, just to be thorough. Bzzzt, wrong answer! Adding too many bookmark icons will only confuse or annoy the visitor giving the impression that the blog is desperate. Find out what social news and bookmark communities your content best resonates with and only list those services as options. 1-4 at most. Either that, or hide the other bookmark options in a foldout or dropdown menu.

    3. Submit your own content. If you’re going to actively submit and vote on content within social news and bookmarking communities, pick a nice, generic moniker. That does not mean submitting your own content under an ambiguous handle, it means social communities tend to dislike branded or commercial sounding user names. Participate in the community and create value. Don’t bother using your brand name.

    4. Relying on a network of people to vote on stories. It’s amazingly easy to detect voting patterns with social news sites. Both Digg and Netscape offer functionality to invite others to read stories, but be smart about how often you do this and with who. Only invite those people you think would really be interested in the content, not just people who will give you a vote without question. People who are interested will also leave the best comments, which can generate even more interest.

    5. Related to above: “Howdy Doody” comments. When people make overly positive comments, I call them “Howdy Doody” comments. You’ve seen them, “Gosh, this is really the best darn article ever!”. It’s a flag that your story is BS, even if it isn’t. Don’t try and fake the language of the more active community members either. ie, on Digg, “This sucks, you’re an evil SEO spammer!”. If you don’t agree with something, it’s a great opportunity to show your smarts, but do so succinctly. If the article doesn’t stand out, then don’t bother commenting.

    These are all pretty basic, yet they persist. What kinds of blunders do you see as a participant of social news and bookmarking sites? How about as a marketer?