Social bookmarking is the practice of posting links to articles and web pages to various “link aggregator” or social bookmark sites, such as Digg, Stumbleupon and so on. Social bookmarking sites rise and fall in popularity fairly quickly, but they generally have a few common features:
- Users can submit links which other users can browse, providing a good way to expose your content
- Links go into large pages of lists, which are normally very easy to navigate, and are also usually divided up into a “main page” of the best links of the day, and various sub-sections which help you to get exposure in more relevant circles.
- Links can usually be “voted on” to determine which links get more airtime on the front page of various sections. The more votes your links get, the more traffic they get.
- Some sites, like Digg, attach a weighting to certain actions and users, so a user who submits more popular links will have a vote that carries more weight.
- Most social bookmarking site users are fairly jaded when it comes to the internet, and will ignore things that aren’t interesting, funny, or very entertaining. This is not a place for your boring press releases.
- Most bookmarking sites usually have some kind of “social” element to them, allowing users to create profiles, have a friends list of other users, etc., in the hope of getting users to share content between themselves.
Those are the basics, so let’s have a look at how best to approach social bookmarking. I’m going to use Reddit and Digg as my main examples, but bear in mind that Reddit itself requires a great deal of familiarity with its culture before you are able to submit links that anybody even clicks on.
Choose your niche
Submitting an article on growing bonsai trees to the front page of Reddit won’t get you anywhere – you’ll get 30 visitors maybe, none of whom will buy your products. But submitting it to /r/bonsai, even though it only has around 1,100 readers, will probably garner you more attention from interested people.
Ironically, submitting to /r/trees will have much less of an effect, because /r/trees is dedicated to marijuana culture. The lesson here is: know your subreddits.
Write a catchy title, and use a picture
Standard newspaper/advert headline formats do not work too well on the internet, because everyone has become immune to them. Instead you need to think of a clever title that interests people enough to find out more about what you’re writing, or at least promise pictures of cats.
Most bookmarking sites include a thumbnail from the page you’re linking to, or one you provide. Take the trouble to do this – it generates much higher clickthroughs.
Keep at it, and make your links easy to share
Social bookmarking is all about persistence, so if nobody clicks on your first link, make another article, come up with a more clever title and try again. Put a social bookmarking widget on your website or blog, and encourage people to share your articles. If you’ve submitted them already, and they have accounts, it only takes a second to click an “upvote” or “like” button.
If nothing else, having links to all of your articles on half a dozen social bookmarking sites is great for SEO.