11 Feb 2009

How to Gain Momentum from Social Media Websites

How many times have we seen articles climb up the social bookmarking ladders and wonder... Why? How often do your best-written most-researched articles just sit there earning crumbs and then something you've knocked up in no time rockets to success? Well, the internet seems to run on momentum. This is not so very different to what I wrote on getting published – do the hard work, be prepared and push that momentum when it happens.

Hot Stories

Perhaps the easiest way to generate momentum is to pitch yourself in the slipstream of a news story that is already hot. It is very easy to quickly bookmark these stories on places like Xomba and Infopirate and earn a bit of money in the process. But to really grab other people's attentions you'll need to do some quick research and create a value-added article. This could be a comparison with competing products or a brief historical overview to put the news story into context.

When there was much talk about LIBOR interests rates I wrote a piece explaining in layman's terms precisely how LIBOR is calculated and the inherent flaws in it. The article continues to get steady views even today.

Popular Sources of Stories

Look closely at the most popular stories on a particular social bookmarking site and see which websites the stories originate from. You will quickly realize that some news sources have a loyal following of social media users. If you're lucky enough to bookmark an article first then you can go away and write your article as mentioned above in the near-certain knowledge that it will be voted up. You will then have extra kudos when you come to promote your follow-up article.

For example, Yahoo Buzz is filled with stories from Yahoo News, so don't bother trying to Buzz up the same story from another site – join the herd and you'll get noticed. And if your follow-up article is based on a piece on Yahoo then this is where to promote it.

Focus Your Efforts

There are over 1000 social media websites on the internet. You need to find the ones that seem to work best in your particular topic area. The previous section will give you a very good idea. Some news sources have also decided to focus on maybe just half a dozen bookmarking sites. Don't try and be clever to bookmark a site on a different social media site and expect it to succeed. It is worth experimenting but keep those speculative tasks to one at a time and see what works and what doesn't. As I said near the top, sites like Xomba and Infopirate are not yet considered in the top rank but the huge advantage there is that you're already earning money on your bookmark before you've even written the article!

For example, I tend to use StumbleUpon for my science and religion stories rather than Digg. StumbleUpon has a religion category and various related groups whereas Digg has no such category and similar articles are scattered across the site, often ending up in Arts & Culture. Why waste my time Digging when I can Stumble more easily!

Creating Your Own Momentum

For the lone online writer this is the hardest to achieve. It could potentially be very lucrative but it needs some careful planning. You can Buzz and Digg and bookmark your own articles on pretty much all the social bookmarking sites and then hope for the best. Luck happens! You need to try and that's fine but how would you plan such a promotion? Without a ready-made receptive and cultivated following your efforts could look like spamming. Sure, tweet your followers, message the groups you belong to and maybe post the story on some forums. Just be careful your story doesn't get buried just because your efforts at generating traffic look... manufactured. By far the best source is the readers you have following you on your blog or writing website. Encourage them to vote.

Buying Success

There are now website services that can generate the momentum you need to make a huge social splash. They are not free and it is probably the worst thing to do. As I said above, the algorithms used to calculate a news item's success are usually a well-kept secret as social bookmarking sites attempt to keep their listings as free of spam and artificial hype as possible. Getting caught once will result in your being banned from that site immediately. Not exactly what you paid for is it!

Overall, use the skills you have to your advantage. Whichever websites you write on will have a better search engine placement than your personal blog. Use that muscle rather than dreaming of the big break-through. Cultivate your readers, ride the trends with new insights and slowly build up that blog. One day the hoards will be at the gates and if your blog has more than one article worth reading then you're a star!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. Will take a note of this.

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