In this article I am going to be telling you what I have learnt about the use of social bookmarking on blogs. If you ever read anything about getting traffic to blogs you will be told thousands of times that you need to get your blog in as many social networks as possible. So when I started blogging I put as many social bookmark buttons at the end of my posts as possible, I used to have about 30 odd buttons at the end of my posts which looked horrible. Some of these social networks I never heard of, my logic was if someone is on these networks I want to make it as easy as possible to add my post on their network. But is this the right thing to do?
Social bookmark buttons on blog are very important for the growth of the blog, a blog is there to tell the visitors some useful information. If 1 visitor finds the information useful then other people will find it useful, why not make it easy for them to share this with people they know. Blogs get updated regularly should provide content which the user can use in real time, meaning they need this information now...so will others.
Social bookmarking has some important benefits for any blog or any website. For new blogs it can get your blog indexed quicker by the search engines. In the old days you used to have to go to each search engine and submit a sitemap or a page so they know about you. Not anymore just submit your site to Digg or StumbleUpon and it will be crawled and indexed that day it works that quickly. It builds an audience of visitors which find your content useful in your niche. Getting traffic to your website is easy just submit your website to as many directories and article directories sites as possible. But they will not be targeted traffic which is what social bookmarking helps with. For example on Twitter if I have 1000 followers and submit a link about web development maybe 10% will be interested in it and click on it. But if I have 1000 followers who I know are all web developers and submit a link about web development the click through rate should be a lot higher maybe 80% will click on it. This is what social bookmarking can do, provide your site with target traffic to your website. Targeted traffic will lead to returning visitors, RSS subscribers and more followers on social networking sites. This is what we want constant source of traffic, there is no point one day having 1000 visitors to your site only for the next day to have 10. Targeted traffic will lead to a steady stream of traffic which will increase over time.
So how easy is it to get started with social bookmarking on your site? If you have a wordpress blog like many of us it’s very easy. There are thousands of plugins which can provide you with hundreds of social bookmark buttons. 5 of the most popular wordpress plugins are:
This are all useful as they provide you with a nice looking easy to use social bookmarks for any social network in just a few seconds. From the plugin admin screen you can place them at the top or bottom of your posts. Perfect! So why wouldn’t you want to use this? I used to use sexy bookmarks on this site, it was perfect for what I wanted it for, giving an easy way to share my content. Until I went to another blog seen they are using sexy bookmarks as well. I tried tweeting the blog post and normally it should bring up the Twitter intent box to post to Twitter, but it connected to shareoholic and I had to sign in with my twitter account and then I could post to twitter. Not as quick and easy as I thought. So thought I’ll go to some of the big blogs to see how they deal with social bookmarking, almost all of them used the actual website development buttons. For Twitter they all went to Twitter Buttons and created a button. Trying these buttons was easy to share on Twitter, it brings up the intent box and 1 click it’s on Twitter...much better. Made me rethink do I need a plugin to do my social bookmarking? Why not just go to the main sites my visitors use and get the proper development buttons from these sites?.
All the plugins are good and they can give you mostly all the social networks but does your visitors actually need all this choice? How many social networks do you use? Me personally use 4 and in the stages of removing one of them out of my life. I use Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and StumbleUpon, don’t use StumbleUpon maybe as much as I should. But the main ones Facebook for personal use, Twitter for good content about web development and Google+ for both personal and web content. When I post links to share it will just be in these places Twitter, Google+ or Stumbleupon. Are my visitors like me? So I watched which buttons were being clicked on and which sites my content was being shared on. Turned out my visitors were clicking on Twitter, Google+, Stumbleupon and sometimes Delicious. If it’s just being shared on these sites, why have the other buttons?
I didn’t expect that what I changed will make any difference to my social bookmarking, I just wanted to make it quicker and easier for my visitors. But the results were quite surprising...I have seen a massive increase of my content being shared on Twitter and getting more and more Google +1 each day. There is no 100% way to tell why this is the case, I hope this increase has been because of the change I made to the social bookmarks. But from these results I see now this is a much better way of dealing with social bookmarks than using a plugin and will continue to take this approach in the future.
First lesson from this change I have learnt that you must know who your visitors are in order to provide for them. I found out most of my visitors are on Twitter, Google+ and Stumbleupon so if these are the places they are going to be sharing I want to make it as easy as possible for them to share on these places. Second lesson you don’t need to display hundreds of social bookmark buttons, just a few will do if someone really wants to share it on Mr Wong or something else they can still easily go there and do it. Third lesson is make is easy and quick, to tweet my content now takes 2 clicks, to Google +1 it takes 1 click, to stumble it takes 2 clicks. Fourth lesson ask your visitors...give them a call to action after your post. If you like this post please share with your friends. Once I’ve read something that was useful to me I always think that will be useful to my followers and I share it.
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