Web 2.0 is another evolution of the constantly changing Internet. And, it’s all about the people.
It all started when Dale Dougherty, an O’Reilly VP, and others had a conference with MediaLive International and they realized the dot com bubble-bursting phenomenon had left some unusual survivors.
The climate of the Internet was changing. Instead of personal websites, people started blogging in communities where web logs were shared. People stopped using online encyclopedias to look up information and started relying more on public run wikis – Wikipedia, in particular.
Instead of looking up useful sites in directories, they were now going by tag clouds, otherwise known as folksonomy. (See a tag cloud below)
Just a quick glance and you see what’s in and what’s out. Size matters, and in a tag cloud, blogroll, or link list, it’s all about who’s honing in on your site and your market.
With the ushering in of web 2.0, it’s all about rolling up your sleeves and getting into the trenches with the online community to interact with your prospective customers. If they don’t know you, chances are, they’re going to shun you for someone they do know, or know about.
It’s certainly going to require a bit more work on your part, but it also serves to become a more prosperous way to conduct business with less overhead required.
Instead of paying SEO companies thousands of dollars and buying traffic in one form or another, you’re going to be able to generate organic traffic through participatory tactics you use to position yourself as an expert in your niche.
Some people are already using this method to brand their business and stomp on their competitors who haven’t yet adapted to the interactive foundation web 2.0 is built upon.
In this report, you’ll learn about social bookmarking community sites, and how to take advantage of other people’s Internet surfing habits and time to bring more traffic to your own websites.
When done properly and consistently, this tactic can get your website into higher search engine rankings and generate tons of free traffic every month.
Introduction to Social Bookmarking
The World Wide Web’s number one problem is, and always has been, managing information. From early Yahoo-style web directories to Google and DMOZ, people have been scrambling to review, categorize and publish information into forms that make sense. “Social Bookmarking” is nothing more than a new way to do exactly that.
Let’s go back in time, just a few years ago…
Every web browser comes with a bookmark function. By clicking on “Bookmark” or pressing CTRL+D (on a PC), your browser stores the title and URL of the website into categorized folders for later viewing.
That’s the basics of bookmarking – not too exciting, right? The next evolution of bookmarking came about when people started to realize a few underutilized concepts of bookmarks:
Most bookmarks are computer-dependent – The bookmarks that you store exist on your PC only. If you were to use someone else’s PC, you can’t access those sites that you have bookmarked.
You can’t share bookmarks – What if you could share all the best bookmarks you’ve stored with your friends, family or business associates? Wouldn’t it be better (and easier) if bookmarking were done at a higher “community” level?
No review & evaluation system – How can you be sure that the sites you have bookmarked are worth your time and attention? How to easily find great sites that have already been bookmarked by others?
These limitations called for a community-based bookmarking system, where you could bookmark great sites independent of your operating system and computer, share it with your friends, and be reviewed and approved by others.
This phenomenon came to be know as “Social Bookmarking” and gave birth to a few new massive services like Del.icio.us (http://Del.icio.us) and tons of smaller yet highly-trafficked “bookmarking sites”.
According to Wikipedia.org, “The concept of shared online bookmarking dates back to April 1996 with the launch of itList.com. Within the next three years, online bookmark services became competitive, with venture-backed companies like Backflip, Blink, Clip2, Hotlinks, Quiver, and others entering the market. Lacking viable models for making money, most of this early generation of social bookmarking companies failed as the dot-com bubble burst. The contemporary concepts of social bookmarking and tagging took root with the launch of the web site del.icio.us, in September of 2003.”
The Advantages and Disadvantages
Although social bookmarking started as an informal collection of personal bookmarks, its significance and ability to generate website traffic grows rapidly by the day. Here’s why social bookmarking can be significant to your business blog or website, according to ConsultantCommons.org:
Enables like-minded people to find each other and create new communities of users around a topic.
Allows a specific group of people (staff members in an organization for example) to share resources efficiently.
Can help you find new insights about a topic by seeing how others think and connect to it.
Creates contextual taxonomies (classifications) that have meaning for a particular community/group of people (good for different cultural contexts).
Most tools incorporate various mechanisms for sharing information outside of the tools (via RSS, integration with other tools such as blogging software).
As good as it may sound, there are several drawbacks (and some potential hazards) to the social bookmarking phenomenon as well:
Tools are still evolving and not all of these social bookmarking sites have polished, user-friendly interfaces. In fact, some of them may require extensive know-how to be useful at all.
No consistent oversight to how a resource is tagged – e.g. tag London could stand for Julie London, City of London, or Jack London.
The stream of specific resources on a topic is as good as the community that has joined the service. Some topics are naturally easier to bookmark due to the sheer fact that most of the people interested in it are tech-savvy (for example gadgets) and some are just not.
Possibility of “tagging spam” as more online marketers automate the process of bookmarking for easy traffic and fast money.
Almost synonymous to the term “social bookmarking” and Web 2.0, Del.icio.us is one of the largest online bookmarking services around.
You can get your own Del.icio.us account for free here:
Del.icio.us will give you instructions on putting up some browser buttons to quickly and easily add pages to Del.icio.us as you’re browsing the Internet.
You now have your own Del.icio.us page, where you can display all your bookmarks for the rest of the world to see.
Every time you click on the “Add to Del.icio.us” button on your browser, you will be asked for this additional information:
Notes – Description of the URL you just bookmarked. This description will appear on the page that displays your bookmarks, as well as higher-tier pages of all the other people who have bookmarked the same URL.
Tags – A tag is a keyword that describes the link or URL. In Del.icio.us however, you can only tag single words, so if you’re planning on tagging a URL with the keyword “holiday resort” you need to tag “holiday” and “resort” individually, or tag “holidayresort”.
Now you can add pages easily to Del.icio.us every time you find something interesting. If other people are also bookmarking the exact URL, Del.icio.us will display the bookmark in its main page called the “Hotlist”.
The Del.icio.us “Hotlist” is a list of the hottest bookmarks in the past few hours. Generally, your bookmark should get here if it is also bookmarked by 20–50 other people.
As you can see, it’s obvious that you are going to get the most out of social bookmarking services when many people bookmark the same URL – your web page. You can achieve this in two different ways:
Create Multiple Accounts – You can create 20–50 Del.icio.us accounts if you want, and submit the same URL for each account. The trick is that each account must bookmark the same URL in a short period of time (less than 72 hours in my estimation) to get it into the Hotlist.
Create Great Content – This is the method I prefer. Instead of trying to fake it to the top, why don’t you create content good enough that people will want to save your site into their Del.icio.us account? After all, isn’t that the purpose of the service?
I suggest that you take it slow with social bookmarking, and let it come naturally. If you want to create a few accounts that’s ok, but don’t go overboard.
Bottom line: If your web page doesn’t deserve to be bookmarked by others, then no matter how hard you try it just won’t get long-lasting results. Focus your efforts on creating something that others would want to bookmark, and then encourage them to do so.
How do you encourage them? Well, it’s time to be “Sociable”!
Installing and Maximizing The Sociable Plugin
If you have created your website or blog with WordPress, using WordPress plugins that work with social bookmarking sites, you can actually encourage people to start bookmarking your sites into their Del.icio.us account or other bookmarking services.
One of the most popular tools used for WordPress is the Sociable plugin, developed by Peter Harkins. This plugin allows you to display most of the popular bookmarking services, although you don’t really need to use them all.
Here’s how the Sociable plugin displays the “bookmarklets” on your WordPress site:
By installing the plugin, the bookmarklets appear on all your blog posts, and users can easily add your posts to their favorite bookmarking services.
To install this plugin, search for it in your WordPress under Plugins, and activate it. The bookmarklets will appear automatically on all your blog posts. You can make changes to your Sociable plugin by clicking on the Options > Sociable tag in your WordPress menu. You’ll see this:
Sociable lets you decide which bookmarking sites you want to display, and the order in which they are displayed. You can uncheck the services to leave them out, and you can also drag-and-drop the boxes to rearrange the order.
At the bottom, you also have the option of changing the default text that appears on top of every bookmarklet.
Other Social Bookmarking Services
If you’ve already set-up your Del.icio.us account and have already started adding your web pages to your bookmarks, then you should be able to understand and use these other social bookmarking services as well.
I have listed them in order of importance and popularity:
- Furl – http://www.furl.net
- Spurl – http://www.spurl.net/
- Digg – http://www.digg.com/
- Blinklist – http://www.blinklist.com/
- Jots – http://www.jots.com/
I recommend that you have at least one account with those services, and use them to bookmark your web pages.
There are literally thousands of Web 2.0 social bookmarking sites on the web these days. Everyone knows about Digg, Technorati, del.icio.us and other Web 2.0 powerhouses, but what about the myriad of smaller and specialty sites. To help you separate the worthwhile sites from the duds, here is a list of the top 9 under rated Web 2.0 sites.
1. Reddit.comReddit’s interface reminds me of Google – simple, plain, and straight to the point. As you vote you train the Reddit filter to know what you like and dislike, and you’ll get recommended links based on your tastes. When you make good submissions that become popular you earn “karma” – essentially points earned to rank you against the rest of the herd.
2. Linkfilter.netThe interface and graphics at Linkfilter are a little strange, but once you get past that it has some nice features. Everyone has the ability to post a link, vote, comment, chat, post a poll, and keep a journal. They have a detailed point system based on experience points and contribution points, but let me just cut to the chase. You get points for everything you do on Linkfilter and those points can help you unlock special features.
3. Shoutwire.comShoutwire is lacking on personality or cool features, but is a good place to find newsworthy, interesting stories. By participating frequently by posting links, voting, or commenting you can earn a spot on the Top 200 Shouters list.
4. Flurl.comFlurl indexes video from more than 1000 video sites on the web, including YouTube. You can rate videos as Flurl or Hurl. When submitting videos, you don’t have to wait for approval, so you can let the Flurl community decide. Did you know the developer of MySpace bought controlling interest in Flurl? Hmmm…should be interesting.
5. Ma.gnolia.comMa.gnolia has a few more features than your average del.icio.us site. It lets you rate your bookmarks with a 5-star system. The site also has a feature called Roots. It utilizes a browser bookmarklet that you can click on while you’re surfing to see how many Ma.gnolia users have linked to that site with their ratings and descriptions.
6. Blinkbits.comBlinkbits is not just a link site because it allows users or “blinkers” to start a space to add blogs, pictures, videos, or whatever bits of information you can find on the subject. Blinkbits also has a neat Google Toolbar Add-On that allows you to save and share news, pics, tags, and feeds on any topic.
7. Simpy.comSimpy is simple and useful. It allows you to store and search your bookmarks and other people’s bookmarks. Simpy constantly crawls, and re-indexes your bookmarks, so you can see all your broken bookmarks and fix them. You can join groups called Watchlists and stay in touch with like minded people. The only downside to the site is the large number of “Untitled” links, so you need to sift through sometimes.
8. StumbleUpon.comStumbleUpon, or SU as users call it, is unique. This is one of my favorites. They’ve got a cool toolbar for Firefox and IE where you push a button and you can stumble on sites based on your preferences from your voting or by recommendations from others. It was ranked 51st in the 100 Best Products of 2006 by PCWorld – Not bad for a Canadian startup that now has over one million registered users.
Blogmemes has almost 9000 registered members, so while its still a small community, it has some nice features. It displays a thumbnail image of each site along with the link and description which is nice when sifting through sites. It also has six different language networks with its own content on each network.
Here are some less popular social bookmarking sites (you can expect to see much more in the future):
- Backflip – www.backflip.com
- Blogmarks- www.blogmarks.net
- Connotea – www.connotea.org
- de.lirio.us – www.del.irio.us
- Feedmarker – www.feedmarker.com
- Frassle – www.frassle.net
- Lookmarks – www.lookmarks.com
- Scuttle – www.scuttle.org
- Unalog – www.unalog.com
- Wists – www.wists.com
- Yahoo! My Web 2.0 – myweb2.search.yahoo.com
Social Bookmarking with Auto Social Poster
Imagine managing to submit your post to 20 different sites – it doesn’t leave you much time to write any more content.
Auto Social Poster is a simple plugin for WordPress that will automatically submit all posts you publish
to your social bookmarking accounts. Currently, it supports Del.icio.us, Blinklist, Blogmarks, Furl, Magnolia, Reddit, Myweb, Shadows, Simpy, Scuttle Spurl and other bookmarking sites.
The key factor that makes Auto Social Poster different from other spammy software is the ability to randomize your submissions. You can choose to submit to only a handful of social bookmarking sites every time you publish a post.
This makes your submissions look less like spam, since it’s scattered across all your bookmarking sites instead of having the same post appear in all of them.
ASP also maintains an updated list of new social bookmarking sites, and they periodically remove sites that have either fallen by the wayside or stopped accepting new submissions.
Auto Social Poster is a paid plugin, but in my opinion it’s worth the money. With ASP I don’t need to worry about this aspect of blogging anymore.
Do You Squidoo?
Squidoo is like a social networking blogger developed by Seth Godin. The site allows you to create a page called a “Lens” about any topic you want, add different revenue generating modules like Amazon links, Adsense, and others, as well as links to your other websites or favorite resources. People can rate your lens and you earn visibility based on your ranking. It’s a clever new site with loads of potential.
By now you know the power of marketing your site through social networks and blogs online. Squidoo is similar, but its features and capability to create an empire is what sets it apart from the pack.
Unlike MySpace and other blogging social networks, Squidoo doesn’t care if you’re there to conduct business. No hiding behind the falsehood that you’re there to make friends. No concern about building up a profit stream only to have the rug pulled out from under you when you go to login only to find out your account has been closed.
Squidoo isn’t just there to earn money through the modules – it’s a fantastic tool to drive visitors to your other promotions and websites, although you may make a few extra dollars using a money module like eBay, Amazon, or Adsense.There are dozens of ways to promote your business. You can link to your websites, affiliate products, or blog. If you want to profit directly from your lens you may want to visit the Top 100 Most Profitable Squidoo Lenses – where you can see how they’re cashing in.
When you make a shopping lens, visitors can browse items on your lens from sites like eBay, Amazon, and many others and when they click through to buy that item, you get a commission.Of course, you’re sharing it with Squidoo – just as you share the click-through revenue your site earns through Adsense with Google.
How To Get Your Squidoo Lens in the Top 100
The Top 100 LensRank changes daily so you can climb the ladder fairly quickly. So how is the LensRank calculated? Well, like Google, Squidoo doesn’t want to give away their secret or else it would ruin the purpose of having an algorithm. But they do tell you a little about how they rank sites.
They use your rating by other members, your reputation, click-through rates, how often you update your lens, inbound and outbound links, and more top secret elements. The lower your LensRank number, the better – #1 being the best.
It’s very possible to have a lens ranked at #1,020 overall, but it’s rated with 5 stars and ranked #1 in its category. But you can’t control all of those elements. So let’s work with what you can control.
At the top of your lens, or somewhere in one of your Write modules, you should encourage people to rate your lens. Don’t worry if you get a bad rating one day. Someone else will come along and boost it another day. It all evens out. If you consistently receive ratings of 2 or lower, you should spend some time to clean up your lens.
Boost Click Through Rates with a Great Title
Your title to your lens is a headline. Treat it with respect. Your title should reflect your niche audience’s interest and possibly pique their curiosity. When you have a crafty title, you’re more likely to get the click-throughs.
Update Your Lens Frequently
A very important part of the algorithm that you can control is how often you update your lens. Log in at least weekly and update something in your lens. It’s a blog so write about something – just to let people know your lens has been freshened up a bit.
Link, Link, Link
Inbound and outbound links are also under your control. Link to it in your signature file whenever you post on the web. Include a link list module so that you can create useful outbound links to show Squidoo you care about the content you’re creating for their members.
I probably don’t have to tell you that YouTube is the Internet’s most popular video hub serving almost 2 billion video views. But you may be surprised that YouTube is a marketer’s dream. You can generate thousands of new visitors to your website with good viral videos. Here are a few guidelines to help you get your video noticed and your links clicked on.
Customize Your YouTube Channel
When you sign up for a YouTube free account, your channel is created. You simply need to customize and organize it. Your own channel gives you your own YouTube URL (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/yourname). Within your channel you can even link back to your website URL. You can also select up to 9 favorite videos of yours to highlight on the top of your profile.
Keep Videos Short
The best way to make your videos viral is to keep them under 5 minutes long. People have short attention spans online, so you should respect their time with videos. Make short how-to’s or tutorials about your niche topic. Its better to make several short videos, than one long one.
Categorize and Set Tags
When you’ve uploaded your video you’ll need to select the best category for it. This is easily done by doing a keyword search for similar videos, and then see how they are categorized. You can also place your video in a smaller category and reduce your competition. Tags are often overlooked, but are important to help your video get found. Use as many relevant tags as you can conjure up.
Creating a playlist is simple within your channel. This is a fantastic way to group together relevant videos into a package or bundle. If you have 3 or 4 similar tutorial videos, you can place them within the same playlist to help you organize your own content and to lead your viewers quickly to the next video in the series.
Send YouTube Email
People forget that YouTube is a social network as well as being the biggest video network in the world. You can send email about a new video you’ve posted to other users that are interested in your topic. This can be a great way to get the news out quickly.
You can post a quick bulletin on your channel or on other user’s profiles. Bulletins can consist of any news, updates, newly released videos, or anything to pique other’s interest in your channel.
Join a YouTube Group
No matter what your area of interest or topic, YouTube probably has a Group for it. The advantage to joining an existing group is that there is already and established base of users all interested in the same topic as you. You can post videos and comment in the discussion area. This can boost viewership and increase visitors to your site.
There are so many community features in YouTube at your disposal, it’s easy to promote your video and website presence with YouTube. And you don’t even have to make your own videos. If you prefer, you can organize and review other people’s videos in a particular niche to help people find the best of the best in your industry.
Social bookmarking is no magic pill for website traffic. You can’t expect overnight results with bookmarking. Instead, expect to see more PageRank (Google’s measure of a website’s popularity) and better search engine ranking as a result from getting incoming links from all these high-rated bookmarking services.
Even that doesn’t happen overnight, so just keep on bookmarking interesting sites you see while browsing the Internet, and eventually your personal bookmark page on Del.icio.us (and other sites) will start building up its value.Other social networking sites like Squidoo and YouTube cost nothing to join, and you can establish your own lens or channel for the world to see. It’s the best free promotion you can get, so take advantage of all that social networking has to offer!
Written by: Brad Gosse – Do not copy without permission