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An Introduction to Social Media Strategy and Socially Driven Content


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This post will cover a few basics - Why you would want to learn more about social media, What kind of results can you expect from social media, and How to get started learning more.

Since I have had some success in the last few months with promoting this site via social media, I have had a high level of requests from people who want to know more about what works. In the last month, my sites have been on the front page of Digg, Netscape,, and StumbleUpon Buzz, so I’ll be focusing the info around those 4 sites.

I’ve also had several people send me very concerned emails about the fact that they feel they are ‘missing out’ on this traffic - yet their blogs/sites are only a couple of months old. It took me 6 months to get anywhere with social media and a full year to be confident enough to write a post about it.

So relax - social media is great, but it takes a while to learn, and should be just a part of your long-term online PR strategy.

Why Learn More About Social Media?

Quite simply put, social media drives traffic - lots of it. In the past week alone, this site has seen 10,183+ visitors from social media traffic, and this doesn’t include the ’secondary gain traffic I’ll be discussing later.

A few more compelling reasons to learn more about social media:

  • Mainstream media is increasingly looking to social media to connect with site visitors
  • Mainstream media is using sites like Digg, and Netscape to source content. and ideas for their own articles/news stories (Chitika’s post did just that).
  • Search Engines pay attention - the posts that do well on social media sites rank extremely well - and nearly instantly. This also influences your overall site rank (I can only say this second part speculatively, can anyone confirm?).
  • Site exposure to new readers/visitors that would never find your site otherwise.
  • Significantly increased Technorati and Alexa ranks which translates into higher advertising revenues
  • The ‘Secondary Gain” includes all of the above, plus an influx of activity from many smaller social media sites such as DogDott, PopURLs, YCombinator, DiggRiver, DiggMirror/DuggTrends, and many others.
  • Street Cred. A bit superficial, I know, but the main reason I made it a goal to get onto the front page of Digg was simply so that I could say I did it - and frankly, it does command at least a little bit of respect.

What Kind of Results Can You Expect from Social Media?

Besides the aforementioned traffic numbers, I’d like to share a little information on the differences between social media sites.

  • Digg

    • Unquestionably the powerhouse traffic driver of them all, Digg traffic on the surface is actually not usually the kind of traffic that converts into subscribers, customers, or ad-clickers (unless you write about Digg topic favorites such as Google, Wii, Apple, and Macs).
    • Grow a thick skin because Digg users are notoriously cruel commenters. The Digg crowd tends to be younger and male, and sometimes less than mature (though they do surprise me with their intelligence and wittiness from time to time ;) )
    • Digg traffic comes in a big burst and dies out quickly - so it’s not going to put you on the map unless you can continue to write good content.
    • Beware of MFD (Made For Digg) posts that can get rather addicting - the traffic is nice, but your own audience needs to come first.
    • Lastly, I thought I had Digg pretty much figured out - and only had hopes of Digg success on very rare posts (as a mom blogger!). But when my post about Keeping Kids Busy on Summer Break got to the front page yesterday, I can only say that there is always another (extremely surprising) road to success.
  • StumbleUpon

    • StumbleUpon is really the raving favorite of most bloggers I know. The traffic can come in tens of thousands, the ‘Stumbers’ are genuinely nice people, and the system is somehow set up to continue to send traffic to popular posts for weeks.
    • StumbleUpon traffic tends to bring longer-term benefits such as subscribers, repeat visitors and customers. This is because the StumbleUpon algorithm is set up so that users will only see pages they have previously expressed an interest in learning more about, or are recommended by friends.
    • Beware of abusing the system - if you keep ‘Stumbling’ your own site, after a while you’ll reach your quota. Be sure to both participate in the community and share other great finds to get the best benefits and add the most value.
  • Netscape

    • Netscape users tend to be mostly interested in politics and traditional news stories. Their topic categories rather defy logic, as there isn’t even a business section.
    • Your topic can influence your Netscape success tremendously - Dan from reports results up to 2500% higher than what I have seen from the site.

    • is slightly different than the others in that the bookmarking features are a bit less social than on the other sites.
    • Frankly, I’ve only had success on this site as a carry-over from getting onto the front page of Digg or Netscape - so I’m no expert on what it takes to master the process here.
    • I love using simply as my own bookmarking site - so the added benefit of organizing your favorite resources easily in one place makes it one to use for other reasons besides driving traffic.

How to Get Started Learning More About Social Media

I’ve learned most of what I know from lots of trial and error (more error than trial, to be honest!). But also mainly from these three sources: Neil Patel, Muhammad Saleem (”Mu”), and my Elite Retreat cohorts (the participants hold a weekly mastermind conference call to implement what we learned at the conference). Neil and Mu write together on the Pronet Advertising blog, which has been bar far the most helpful and comprehensive source of information to really understand Digg and the Digg culture. Mu also recently landed a gig as a contributor to Brian Clark’s CopyBlogger.

Tips for Success:

  1. Connect with other users and make friends - it will not only help your own efforts, but it will also add more value to the community as a whole
  2. Don’t game the system - there’s nothing wrong with asking some friends for a few votes, but that alone won’t get results. Only really great content will get you what you’re after - and all of the sites are set up to reward great content and weed out and rid the community of spam.
  3. Learn the ropes - each site has it’s own community and it’s own set of rules - both spoken and unspoken. Take the time to get to know each community and be a part of it to really get the best results.
  4. Add value - comment on others’ submissions, vote on good posts, and submit great, relevant content that others would be interested in. Yes, it’s the long way to do it - and the best way to, also.
  5. Network with successful site users - they can not only show you the ropes, but also help you get successful faster. Beware - LOTS of people take this route - so don’t expect a huge, warm welcome, because unfortunately there are many people who are trying to take advantage of Top Diggers, Stumblers and Netscape Navigators, etc.
  6. Take them one at a time - start by learning one of the easier sites, and I recommend for the newest users to start with StumbleUpon. Once you have some success under your belt, you can tackle a new site to learn.

Lastly, I want to share some numbers from the last 7 days that will help put social media in perspective for you:

Site Number of Visitors Page Views per Visitor Time Spent on Site 8,981 1.09 *00:00:18* 680 1.79 00:01:30 527 1.44 00:01:13 434 1.24 00:00:33
I’d also like to point to another set of compelling numbers. I commented on 2-3 posts over at ProBlogger in the same time period. Although these comments drew far less visitors, the traffic generated from a good quality comment left on a relevant site speaks for itself:
Site Number of Visitors Page Views per Visitor Time Spent on Site 54 2.74 00:03:33

So, although Social Media traffic has it’s benefits, it should only be a part of your entire site promotion strategy. I’ve grown to really appreciate the Digg crowd (even though they are mean as all hell sometimes), but if I had to pick, I’d take those 54 ProBlogger visitors over a big Digg any day.

Thankfully, I don’t have to pick, and neither do you. :D


This post was written as part of the To Do Wish List Group Research Project. Here are some posts written by others on the subject of StumbleUpon as well as other sites that I don’t know a lot about, including Newsvine and BumpZee:

Share the Love... and the Traffic ;) These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Netscape
  • StumbleUpon
  • BlinkList
  • Fark
  • Furl
  • Ma.gnolia
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • Bumpzee
  • Slashdot
  • TailRank
  • co.mments
  • NewsVine
  • YahooMyWeb

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  • Discussion

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    On May 24th, 2007 at 6:10 pm, Laura said:

    Great post! I just joined StumbleUpon today. I use most of the other techniques, but not necessarily consistently.

    On May 24th, 2007 at 6:55 pm, Char said:

    Nice analysis Wendy. I have had the most success with Stumble Upon and found that it comes in an initial burst that tapers off and often re-ignites itself. It is also the easiest to use in my opinion.

    On May 24th, 2007 at 7:49 pm, Sue Olson said:

    OK - my mind is blown! I had NO idea the value of these sites or WHY the various names kept coming up! I just LOVE that there is so much to sink my teeth into! The amount of information out there does start to overwhelm me at times…

    On May 24th, 2007 at 9:10 pm, Dan and Jennifer said:

    Excellent post Wendy, great breakdown of the pros, cons, and gotchas of each.

    Gotta say, Netscape has by far been our favorite community to date. :-)

    Have an awesome day!

    On May 24th, 2007 at 9:33 pm, John Jackson said:

    Lots off great tips thanks. I get very little traffic from digg. Your advice should help.

    On May 24th, 2007 at 10:37 pm, JoLynn Braley said:

    Thanks for the breakdown on these sites Wendy. I admit that I don’t spend a lot of time focusing on these right now and I don’t know if my site even “qualifies” for Digg — I thought it was all about technology (I write about health…).

    I do like Stumbleupon though, and have had some traffic from it. I’ll take your advice and begin with learning that one, and I’m a little familiar with it anyway. :)

    On May 24th, 2007 at 11:03 pm, Ross said:

    Great post. I found it via ProBlogger, and left a comment there that I’ll confirm here (re: Search Engines pay attention - the posts that do well on social media sites rank extremely well - and nearly instantly. This also influences your overall site rank (I can only say this second part speculatively, can anyone confirm?)

    Yes, it does help increase your site rank. I went from a 3 to a 5 the last time Google updated, and I’m certain it was due to the links that digg/reddit ’caused’ by making it to the front page a few times.

    On May 25th, 2007 at 12:29 am, Thad Guy said:

    Excellent overview. I’m quite glad to find such good information about the social media.

    However, I thought I would mention how my experience has been a little bit different (and much shorter). The visitors that I get from Digg seem to be more engaged in my site and end up looking at quite a few of my posts. My unsupported explanation for this is that they enjoy the quasi-political nature of some of my posts.

    On the other hand the visitors that I have gotten from stumbleupon seem to have a smaller amount of patience for my posts. They come, they go, and once or twice they have gotten a little angry. In stumbleupon I fall into the humor category. So, I explain this disparity (again unsupported) by telling myself that they are expecting something that is more simply and immediately funny rather than the absurdity I often stray into.

    Thanks again for the post!

    On May 25th, 2007 at 5:11 am, Bruce said:

    Great post and very insigthful. I agree about Digg. I tried several times to get on the front page, but I’ve never made it and I’ve noticed the traffic gained from Digg is pretty much worthless in terms of building long term traffic and subscribers. There are much better methods of accomplishing an increase in readers and you outlines some of them well here.

    Add one more subscriber to your blog that came from ProBlogger :-)


    On May 25th, 2007 at 5:50 am, Melissa said:

    I am another one that cam from ProBlogger. Thank you for taking the time to break down all of this information. It is a great read and gives me a lot to think about.

    On May 25th, 2007 at 6:57 am, John Wesley said:

    Great comprehensive post. Your finding are right in line with what I’ve experienced myself. Gotta love that social traffic, but I’d rather get a link from Problogger any day.

    On May 25th, 2007 at 7:59 am, Dan and Jennifer said:

    You may be on to something here John - perhaps if we ask nicely? :-)

    In addition I think we’ll stick to massive social media promoting too. It just keeps on givin’, and we’re very grateful.

    Have an awesome day!

    On May 25th, 2007 at 8:46 am, Steve Olson said:

    The best thing social media produces is back links, which improve page rank… other than that, the traffic isn’t sticky. Well except SU. I plan to focus more on SU than on Reddit or Digg. But in my experience SU produces the best social media visitors but it just doesn’t produce the back links.

    On May 25th, 2007 at 1:24 pm, Success Online said:

    You have made it easy for readers by leveraging the power of a mastermind group!

    On May 25th, 2007 at 1:55 pm, Dawud Miracle said:

    Wendy. This is a great - and helpful - post. Since I’m interested more in the conversation and building relationships with my blog, it’s obvious that leaving good comments on other blogs is the way to engage people. Social media is great, but I really wonder about the retention rates. I guess time is what tells.

    On May 25th, 2007 at 2:36 pm, Lynn Glessner said:

    Wow, I am new to blogging and this is a hugely informative post. Thanks for laying it all out so well, and I’m following some of your links to learn more.

    I found you through pro-blogger, so I guess I’d better leave a comment and stay awhile ;)

    On May 25th, 2007 at 4:04 pm, Susie said:

    Great post!!! I actually found this article through ProBlogger… so far I haven’t had much luck with DIGG but I just started blogging. StumbleUpon is great!!!

    On May 25th, 2007 at 11:21 pm, narcolept said:

    Great post Wendy. I’ve gotten so much into the social media/bookmarking logic lately that I think it’s become the focus of my blog, and will likely continue. I actually noticed that the links I get from problogger are much more rabid as far as perusing the site and length of visit than digg users as well. I’m also finding out that if you mention the social media sites in a post, the social media sites love them, for the 45 seconds they spend on your site..

    I don’t think, unless it fits your writing style already, that writing your posts geared toward social media sites is worth it for Joe or Jane Blogger, however, I think in any post about “writing to digg”, etc. they should be mentioning to include Digg in the title and the post to make sure the diggers will love it. Sorry for the long comment, but I just wrote a post about writing for social media today, so expanding on this in a post might be redundant for me.

    On May 27th, 2007 at 8:43 am, Sherri Caldwell - The Rebel Housewife said:

    I’m originally from ProBlogger too, as far as that goes. Thanks so much for all the great info here, Wendy, as social networking is still a challenge (well, less so now!). I’ve found more non-techie geared Digg-type sites, where I’m more comfortable as a lifestyle/books blogger. My favorite is

    On May 27th, 2007 at 9:40 pm, Success Online said:

    Be sure and add me as a friend my name on Bumpzee is StephenWelton

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