With an abundance of social networking sites, trying to appeal to larger web communities using shock and awe headlines especially at the expense of creating content that your community and subscribers find relevant, costs you trust and attention with each swing and a miss. When you finally hit a home run and get exposure on social media sites, most of those people leave within 30 seconds. Few link to your site, few buy, and few subscribe. The reality is social media takes time and investment. It also takes understanding what works for you and your business if that is how you intend to use it. Build a profile on one social site and let everything else follow.
What others don’t understand is that social media is not search. It is not something you should try in lieu of a decent SEM strategy. If anything, social media should complement it. I’d also recommend that others should acknowledge that while there are hundreds of viable social media sites out there, it may be compelling to focus on a social media site that aligns mostly with your interests, but if it isn’t a heavily-trafficked site, your efforts will probably not meet your satisfaction. A site like StumbleUpon is great because you can really drill down to your wants and needs and get served (and serve) pages that fit in with your interests. And if you’re an active participant, people will become your friend which makes it a lot easier to network. Why social media usually fails Within your own field you likely know what people care about, why they care about it, and key emotional touchpoints that you can appeal to. But if you can’t get exposure in your own market it is going to be even harder to appeal to larger and less related markets. When social media actually works The most effective way to target social media is to find something on a network that already relates to what you are doing and co-brand it, rather than trying to create a new hit from scratch. Get featured or referenced on a site like Search Engine Land and thousands of people interested in SEO and SEM are going to see that reference. If you create useful content and get covered by leading editorial channels in your field, what are the odds that some of the people who passionately subscribe to content directly related to your topic will also read, subscribe to, link to, trust, and/or buy from your site? Many will. Social media is hot. Everyone wants to be on Digg’s home page. With link baiting, especially using things like numbered lists, imperative rules or controversial hooks is the SEM strategy du jour. There’s just one — major — problem with spending so much time and effort on capturing the eyeballs of social media users. Social media is easy to hype because there is a lot of traffic on social media sites. But if you try to do anything with social media traffic to convert it to revenue, you will be hard-pressed — unless you are selling CPM-based advertising. The relevancy is so great that you do not need a large stream of traffic to create a lot of value. Why does search work? Great relevancy. Why does social media work? It works because these efforts complement an existing marketing strategy in play. Solely relying on a uniform approach will not enable you to garner the identity necessary for the long term.