Social Media Marketing :: What is it and what do we do with it?

September 10th, 2006

There’s a new buzz word circulating through search engine marketing firms around the world. It’s a concept that isn’t really new to a lot of people however it’s the first time a real name has been assigned to it.

The subject is SMM (Social Media Marketing) and its a new form of online marketing that has some people in the industry scared, some unsure how to proceed, and others wondering how to monetize it.

So what is SMM? In this article (and the next few) we look at the roots of this new phenomenon to see where the idea came from. We will also be providing a few case studies on SMM, showing how effective it has been, and give our opinion on how “big” it is going to be, as well as how important link building is to SMM.

We’ve known about Social Marketing for some time now. Ever since the advent of sites like and search marketers have been wondering just what the heck to do about it.

These sites and many others are part of what some people are referring to as “Web 2.0”. It is considered to be the evolution of the Internet. The Internet, as many believe, is beginning to move from a passive system where browsers merely view web pages, to an active one, where they become the content creators.

In fact we’ve been watching this evolution for some time now. Ever since we first heard of weblogs early in this millennium (now commonly referred to as blogs) we knew things were changing.

But in the past 12 to 18 months we’ve seen a literal explosion in the number of social sites out there. Some have survived, others have not, and many continue to struggle. But one thing is for sure, social media is here to stay. Therefore we MUST find a way to market within it.

Rohit Bhargava, Vice President of Interactive Marketing for Ogilvy Public Relations, is one of the first people to put his finger on how to “do” social search marketing. In his recent article titled 5 Rules of Social Media Optimization (SMO) he explains what social marketing is, and how to perform it.

While his article only touches on one small aspect of social media marketing, it does give us a place to start to begin to understand what is involved.

His article explains that social media optimization is mostly an extension or addition to one’s SEM campaign. The idea is that, rather than improving your site to perform better in the search engines, one must make changes in your site to make it more “likable” to other websites and users.

Here’s how it works:

Essentially you want to make your site more appealing. In a way it’s like link baiting only rather than creating content specifically for encouraging links, you structure your entire site to help encourage “link love.”

Not only that, but you enlist the technology of other current social sites, such as Digg and Technorati to help further your linkability.

His five rules are as follows:

1) Increase your Linkability. In other words, create content that others want to link to. Try and take link baiting to a whole new level.

2) Make Tagging and Bookmarking Easy. Give people the option to easily share your content with the rest of the world. Sites like Technorati allow you to tag your content, and allows you to create links which your readers can easily bookmark. But don’t stop there, there are dozens of tagging and bookmarking sites out there, so make it easy for their users to share your work.

3) Reward Inbound Links. By rewarding links you are encouraging others to link to you. Blog software is ideally suited to this as it can keep track of inbound links and even refer to them in individual posts. Some sites also keep track of top linking sites and/or recently linked sites in a prominent place on their site, usually the home page.

4) Help Your Content Travel. Don’t just make all your content into HTML pages. PDF’s, audio files and video files are portable. They can build your brand even away from your site. But the only way to do that is to ensure you submit them to other sites. For example, if you have video content, don’t just let it languish on your site, submit it to Google Video, Yahoo! Video, Youtube and the dozen other video sites out there.

5) Encourage the Mashup. Try and think of new and innovative ways to bring something fresh to the web. Whether it’s a mashup of maps with churches, geo-tagging images or simply embedding video in your site. When done properly mashups can be a HUGE brand builder.

And of course there are many other forms of social media to be exploited. In fact, soon after Bhargava published this list of rules others jumped on board to help extend it. That in itself is a classic example of social media marketing (and link baiting). In fact, there are now 16 rules of social media optimization and they’ve even been translated into other languages!

In reality one of the best ways to learn about the potential of social media marketing is to study the field.

Start with the bloggers. And I don’t mean the SEO bloggers, I mean other sites. Sites like BoingBoing and Slashdot. These are typical of the types of sites which allow others to contribute.

Take BoingBoing, for example, they easily allow the general public to share stories on a variety of topics from the latest weird Ebay sales to how New Orleans is coping 1 year after Katrina.

Also, take a look at their pages. Remember Bhargava’s rule 2? Well look down the right side of their page. They have over a dozen links for various services to make it easier for users to help spread their word through bookmarking and tagging.

Plus they are open about everything they do. You can go online and view their stats.

So what’s all this worth to BoingBoing? Well if you look at the home page, over to the left and down a bit you’ll see what their feed readership is. When I checked as I was researching this article it’s over 2.2 million. And that’s just the people who read the feeds. Imagine how many more visit the site on a daily basis, sometimes many times per day?

Well, let’s find out – go back to that stats page (the link is above). Check out their visits and page views. Over 9.6 million visits and almost 25 million page views for the month of August.

So if you were wondering what all the fuss about this social media marketing thing is, now you know.

Just imagine what you could do if you have 2.2 million feed readers subscribed and almost 10 million visitors a month viewing almost 25 million pages. Would that be something you’d want to tap into?

In the next article we will delve deeper into other sites and present some case studies on how effective some social sites are. We’ll follow up with showing you how important link building is going to be in this “new age web.”


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