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Social Media Pitfalls: 5 Lessons Learned

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 13 February 2008 16:12


Young Guns of SEO – Jordan Kasteler


Utah SEOAllow me to introduce myself. My name is Jordan Kasteler also known as Utah SEO Pro. My background is in organic search engine optimization, which I’ve been doing professionally for 4 years now, and I’ve stayed pretty focused on that and haven’t delved much into paid search at all. But as of late, I’ve been playing a lot lately in social media and there’s quite a few things I’ve learned and quite a few things  I’ve historically done I wish I could erase

This post is probably going to make me look like an idiot, especially to the SMOs, but hopefully it can save a few headaches for people getting into social media. I’m going to focus primarily on Digg because, in my experience, it seems to be the most complex social media site out there due to its sophisticated algorithm.

 

Mistake #1: Abusing self-promotion


For the past year and a half to two years I’ve had social media accounts but I never used them. If I did ever use them it was just to submit some of my own blog posts or my company’s blog posts too.

Let me note that self-promotion isn’t bad all the time. If you’ve established an authoritative status in a community or are a power-user then you are more likely to get away with it if you do so sparingly. Nobody likes a self-promoter or person who is greedy. It is essential to contribute to other people and help them promote their stories. Karma comes full-circle when it comes to social networking.

 

Mistake #2: Not understanding the scope of the site or the community in its entirety

I’ve heard a lot of social media experts suggesting to take a look at the site and community before you register to understand what it’s about. That advice is half the battle but before you can really understand what it’s about you have to observe, participate, and test significantly. My mistake was not knowing that the one community perceives things differently than other communities.

For example, Digg.com hates SEOs. I learned this by my low response on SEO articles submitted. Good thing I was currently operating under the name “jordankasteler” instead of “UtahSEOpro”. This could have been bad had I started participating with the name “UtahSEOpro” and then realized, after much wasted time and effort, that none of my stuff will ever get promoted because nobody likes me.
Another example happened lately on Mixx.com.  I submitted one of my own articles to a group on Mixx that had a rule strictly against self-promotion. Needless to say that didn’t go over well.

Moral of the story here is know the community, know the rules, know that goes hot and what doesn’t, know who’s hot and who’s not and imitate them.
Another tip is to seek out niche communities that aren’t as big as say Reddit, Digg, Delicious, or StumbleUpon. There are niche sites like sphinn.com for Internet marketers, Sk-rt.com for woman, and Hugg.com for nature lovers. Relevant content in niche communities can drive more traffic and links than broader communities sometimes.

 

Mistake #3: Not having goals

When I very first started using Digg used it almost as a bookmarking service. At the time, I probably didn’t even know the difference between Digg and Delicious. When I found a site I liked, I submitted it to Digg not considering or caring if the community would like it or not or if it was news worthy. What a horrible waste, I now have 70+ submissions and only a small percentage of them are actual quality content that I’ve submitted with intentions of promoting news worthy or remarkable article, video, or image.

Start by creating goals for every piece you submit. Your goals should be to promote everything you submit and do so with pride. If you submit low-quality content then you’re a low-quality contributor and the community will recognize it quickly. Don’t just submit and forget. Use a tool like Digg Alerter to watch your submitted content. If someone comments on a post then respond back to them whether the comment was positive or negative. The key here is to engage with the community and try to start a conversation. Comments are a good quality indicator of a post so this is an important part detail. If you don’t have a good response for the comment at least vote it up or down depending on the quality of the comment.

 

Mistake #4: Choosing quantity over quality when it comes to friends

Initial thinking of a newbie would be the more friends the better, right? WRONG! I’m not sure if this is recent with Digg’s new algorithm change or what but what I’ve found out is that the more friend you have the higher the threshold is for a story to go popular. My mistake was adding too many friends and not monitoring if they were voting for my content or not. After decreasing my friend count on Digg from nearly 500 friends to about 65 friends I’ve seen the threshold drop dramatically. For most social media sites you want to keep your friends very relevant to your interests and make sure that they are active users. Having non-active users, people who don’t appreciate your submissions, and people who don’t help you promote your submitted content is useless. I’ll go back to Karma here, if you’re not being active and helping others yourself then don’t expect your friends to do the same.

A wise thing is to constantly monitor your friend activity and trim down friends who aren’t beneficial to your success or not. This isn’t to hurt anyone’s feelings but if they aren’t going to play they need to get off the field.

 

Mistake #5: Not using RSS

I hate RSS when it comes to reading my news so I’ve stayed clear from it but I discovered that RSS is my best friend for social media. There are a couple reasons why.

  • The first reason is if you’re contributing a lot of content, especially news worthy items, then timing is everything. It’s wise to subscribe to news sites like CNN.com or NYTimes.com so you can catch hot stories as soon as they are posted.
  • The second reason is that you can subscribe to what your friends are posting so you can help them promote their content without having to go to each profile and check up on them daily. It’s a huge timesaver and an easy way to keep tabs on your friend’s activity.

 

*BONUS Mistake* Not considering submission timing

There are certain times in each community where there are more eyes on the site or certain categories than others. Knowing those times and submitting during them is important. Generally, most people surf social sites in the morning or around lunch time during their break at work. It’s a good time to submit around then to capture people’s attention. It can make the different of whether your story goes popular or not.

If you’re up at 3:00 a.m. and you see a hot story pop up on your RSS reader from CNN then it’s probably not wise to save that until lunch-time the next day to submit because then you run the risk of someone else submitting it first. So be wise and use common sense.


Summary

Hopefully learning from my mistakes will help you avoid them in the future. I like to teach people the correct way of doing things based on my experience and hopefully you can take what you’ve learned and do the same.

 

Dave Here; I would like to thank Jordan from dropping in and being a part of our ‘Young Guns of SEO’ series. You can check out his latest effort at Learn SEO Live.  You can also find a full list of his Social Profiles on Sphinn. If you missed our last one, be sure to check out 4 Great Link Bait Ideas from Gabs. I you are a young SEO or know of one that is worthy of promotion, be sure to get in touch for the chance to be our next ‘SEO Young Gun’ guest rider.

 

Comments  

 
0 # Wingnut 2008-02-13 17:24
I'm pretty sure everyone just starting out in Social Media makes these exact same mistakes. Good on you for learning from them rather than continuing with them :D
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0 # Garrett Pierson 2008-02-13 19:05
Jordan did a great job explaining how Social Media can be tough to learn but once learned can really benefit your business. Thanks Jordan you really helped me out with this article.
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0 # robdogg 2008-02-13 20:44
unfortunately, these are things all new social media newbies must learn the hard way
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0 # johnegood 2008-02-14 00:06
Jordan - I find your articles useful. I too am guilty of thinking of social media as a tool for SEO & link building. I've now resolved to think of social media as a way of building community and traffic and NOT as a step in SEO. BTW - I still don't understand the distinction between digg & delicious. MY best advice to people is to start with small sites (blogcatalog, myblogfriends etc etc) and get to know the principles and methods. That way, when you mess up, it's on the little ones before you get to the bigtime. You were lucky you used throw-away names for your mistakes
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0 # Kairi Juno 2008-04-06 14:19
I am newbie in blogging(1.5 months with blogspot), social media, SEO and this article really helped me out because I've been done all the mistakes above , thanks Jordan. I came here from toprankblog biglist SEO update 020808.
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0 # Eric Bramlett 2008-04-19 17:46
I think I made these exact mistakes. I don't agree w/ you regarding the # of friends & threshold for going popular - we've played around w/ submitting under different accounts, and the # of friends under each account didn't seem to have anything to do with the threshold for going popular. It seems (to me at least) that the threshold for going popular has more to do with voting patterns of users.
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0 # ginta 2009-11-20 21:55
Does socia bookmarking really work for seo.?
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