Have you ever felt like you’re talking but no-one’s listening? I’m sure that’s something most bloggers can relate to (even A-list bloggers like Darren Rowse), especially when you’re in the initial stages of developing a blog. One way to increase your exposure is through the use of so-called Social Bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious, Stumbleupon, and many others.
…a method for Internet users to store, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web pages on the Internet with the help of metadata.
Essentially these community-oriented sites are large collections of links to (generally) good quality content (articles, images, video, etc) that has been submitted by ordinary internet users like you or I. Conceptually this is no different to the functions that most web browsers provide to save the URLs of pages that you find interesting so that you can find them again in the future. The only difference is that these links are stored online, so they can be:
- viewed by the general internet population (unless you designate them private for some reason)
- retrieved from any computer with an internet connection
Characteristics of Social Bookmarking sites
There is a vast array of these sites, with new ones popping up all the time. With some variations, they are generally characterized by:
- The ability for ordinary internet users to contribute links / content. Indeed the internet community is the life-blood of these sites; if no-one submitted links, they would cease to exist.
- The ability for the community to vote submissions up and down. If you, the user, find something you like on a social bookmarking site, you have the ability to vote it up, and thus contribute to its popularity. If, on the other hand you find something you don’t like, you can do the opposite.
- The cream rises to the top. This voting system means that popular content becomes more popular, whilst unpopular stuff gets buried. (There are no doubt many strategies to manipulate the popularity of various items, some legitimate, others less so; needless to say, going too far is likely to get you banned.)
- This voting system makes these sites good places to discover interesting sites, particularly as a starting point for a surfing session, perhaps better than using Google, for instance.
- Most social bookmarking sites also have a networking aspect to them; generally the most influential members have established connections (I hesitate to say relationships) with other members, which often lends weight to their submissions and votes.
Social Bookmarking sites as sources of traffic
So much for discovering other people’s interesting content. The interesting thing is: you can also submit your own content, and attract attention to your own site(s). Having said that, I would caution you to not go overboard with this – there’s a fine line between sharing and spamming, and overstepping the mark may get your account banned.
A better and more sustainable (not to mention beneficial) strategy is to get your readers to submit your content on your behalf. How do you do this? Well, for starters:
- Write good content. This may not be enough in itself, but is the starting point for developing a good site.
- Encourage your readers to share your content.
I realise there’s a catch-22 here: if you currently have no readers, how can they submit your content! Well, I guess the answer is to make use of your existing network (friends, colleagues, granny, etc) to get you started. Basically call in a few favours. Mixed in with a bit of judicious self-submission, this at least gets you listed, and with any luck it’ll grow from there.
Sociable plugin for WordPress
There’s a nifty plugin for WordPress users that makes it easier to invite submissions from your users. I use it on this site – have a look at the bottom of this post.
Unfortunately there is no way to go from zero to loads of traffic overnight (unless you’re prepared to pay for it), but, as with any technique, if you persistently utilise the suggestions in this article, over time you will see an increase in your traffic!
And now that you’ve finished reading this, how about submitting it to your favourite social site?