Social News and Bookmarking

Social news sites are websites that allow users to submit and vote on content from around the Web.This voting activity helps isolate the most interesting links. Marketers have found these sites to be very useful for generating buzz and traffic around specific campaigns or articles, but direct marketing on social news sites is typically frowned upon.

Social bookmarking sites are similar to social news sites, but the value presented to users is focused on allowing them to collect and store interesting links they’ve found and may wish to revisit. Most bookmarking sites count the number of times a piece of content has been stored and interpret these as votes to highlight the most valuable links.


To get your content listed on a social news site, you have to submit it. During the submission process, you’ll be asked to provide a headline, a short description of the content of the page, the category it should be listed in, and some tags to describe it. 

Most communities frown on people who submit their own content, so avoid doing this. Instead, cultivate a community of active social news users on your site, and display links for them to submit your content. Making friends with power users is also a great idea, and it’s something I’ll talk about a little
later in this chapter.


The central action of interest to marketers on social news sites is voting. Different sites call it different things, and some don’t even specifically label it, but the idea is the same: a piece of content is submitted to a site, and other users vote on it, either up or down. The number, quality, and speed of votes determine how popular your content is. Pieces of content that receive sufficient votes are promoted to a section of popular content, a process called going pop that I’ll detail later in this chapter.

Many social news sites offer badges that you can copy and paste onto your site. Once your content has been submitted to one of these bookmarking sites, add a badge to your page so that your readers can vote it up or down without leaving your site. These buttons are great for promoting your content. You should place them as prominently on your content as you can when you think that a specific page has a good chance of doing well on a certain social site.

  In many instances, the headline of an article is the only thing a reader will see.

 On a social voting site, the most important element of a story is the headline. This has the greatest effect on how many votes a story gets, and is the only thing many users will read. The title of a blog post or a page is typically what a user submits, so spend some time writing a great headline.

Good headlines give the impression that the content that follows them is easy to digest, entertaining, and valuable. Try to explain exactly what the user will get out of reading your content. If your content is a photo or a video, specify that in the title; if it is a list (such as a top 10 best list), put that in the headline.

Your titles should be eye-catching and provocative, but not misleading. Users on social sites are very savvy and will figure out your tricks much faster than you think.


Coined by Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz, the term linkerati refers to a class of individuals on the Web who are more likely than other users to have their own blogs or websites where they can link to content they find interesting. When marketing to social news sites, the linkerati are your target, as many of them frequent these sites and will blog about content they find there. Research I did on Digg in 2007 showed that the average popular page got about 300 links.

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