Social Media Marketing: Is it Worth Your Time?

Social Media Websites such as Digg, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, and Reddit can bring thousands of visitors to your website or blog in a very short amount of time. However, it often seems like only a small percentage of the users of these sites actually see any results and the rest are just wasting their time.

You probably don’t have hours to spend each day to become a “top user”, but can you still benefit from social media websites? If you have a specific strategy, it is possible to get surprising results without spending hours digging other sites.

What Type of Traffic Do Social Media Sites Generally Produce?

  • Visitors convert into subscribers at a low percentage.
  • There is normally a low number of page views per visitor.
  • Visitors are less likely to click on advertisements.

You may think this traffic hardly sounds valuable, but on the positive side:

  • Even if the subscriber conversion percentage is low, the huge number of visitors can still help you see a significant jump in subscribers.
  • Bookmarks (such as del.icio.us) can lead to repeat visitors as users go back to their bookmarked pages.
  • Social media is one of the most effective ways to launch new linkbait.

If your time is limited (which I’m sure it is) your goal should be to create traffic through social media websites without a lot of time-consuming, manual effort. Here are some tips:

  • StumbleUpon is one social site that can send floods of traffic with little or no efforton your part. You don’t need “friends” or a large network, you need high quality, attention-grabbing content.
    • Get a blog post Stumbled by one person and it can snowball (if other users also like your post).
    • One of the most effective ways to get the ball rolling with StumbleUpon is to include a link on each of your blog posts that easily allows readers to stumble it (like the one at the end of this post). Reminding readers will almost always get you more stumbles.
  • Use 2nd tier social media sites as a spring board to the major ones.
    • There are a number of social media sites besides Digg, StumbleUpon and del.icio.us that send considerable amounts of traffic (see our list of social media websites). Many of these sites are also highly targeted to specific niches. Users of these websites are also likely to be users of other social media sites, so success on a 2nd tier site can create some success with others like del.icio.us or StumbleUpon.
    • All 3 times that I have had blog posts reach the front page of del.icio.us in the past 2 months it has started with traffic from Dzone, a social site for developers. Dzone users started bookmarking the posts, which led to the front page of del.icio.us, and even more traffic from del.icio.us.
    • For more information on using 2nd tier social media sites see an article the I wrote for Blogging Expertise.
  • Optimize your blog for social media.
    • Pick a few social sites that you want to target (I use del.icio.us and StumbleUpon) and place some icons or links that will encourage readers to bookmark/vote for your pages. Place the links in prominent places where readers will be likely to see them. Don’t try to promote too many different sites as all of the icons, buttons, and widgets can be a distraction to your visitors.
    • Choose the sites you want to target based on how well they fit with your readers and your blog’s subject. A smaller, more targeted social media site may produce much better results than the major ones.
    • WordPress users can download the Antisocial plugin that will allow users to submit your posts to a few social media sites.
    • FeedBurner users can also encourage use of social media with FeedFlare.
    • For specific tips on using del.icio.us, see the 10-step process that I used to get to the front page.

What are your thoughts and opinions on social media? What have you had success with?

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