Definition: “A social bookmarking service is a centralised online service which enables users to add, annotate, edit, and share bookmarks of web documents. Many online bookmark management services have launched since 1996; Delicious, founded in 2003, popularized the terms “social bookmarking” and “tagging”….” (Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Bookmarking)
I would like you to think of a website as our good companion, the Sun. The Sun is the centre of our universe, just like a client’s website is the centre of a digital marketing campaign. The way the planets orbit the Sun, with Mercury nice and close and then each planet getting further and further away, represents the spread of the target audience throughout the World Wide Web.
Your Mercuries are your immediate target audience. If you are selling lawn mowers, these are the people that live for lawn mowers. They may be a lawn mower retailer, they may collect them, they may just really love everything about cutting grass. But they are the people that will be going to your site directly, they stick close to it, they follow a lawn mower’s every move on all social media platforms, they probably have your site set as their homepage…
SEO techniques such as creating offsite content, using social media and blogging techniques are very effective in attracting the attention of those from around Earth to Jupiter in the internet solar system scale. These are the planets that do get the Sun, and they appreciate it, but they are not constantly overheating from it. In non-solar system terms: these are the people that have gardens and do like to cut their grass, but they are not really aware of, or obsessed with, the full benefits of a nice tidy lawn. They may have a very old, useless lawnmower and they are, as of yet, not quite privileged enough to experience the incredible virtues of the Lawnmower Ninja 3000 (this is a made up product) that the Sun can offer.
Engaging content and social media will reach these people and show them the light! If they are lucky enough to find your content on lawn mowers, or happen to be following the Sun (the client/you) on social media platforms, they can be provided with a fully fuelled rocket straight back to the Sun (i.e. a keyword link). From there they will see the Sun (client’s/your website) in all its glory, and probably buy themselves a shiny new lawn mower.
What If Your Target Audience Lies Beyond Jupiter?
Now, imagine that you want someone as far away as Neptune is from the Sun (in internet terms) to see your website. These are the people that, say, have a garden, but they don’t use it much. Come spring, perhaps they look out of their window and for a fleeting moment they consider that cutting the grass would be a good thing to do. Then the phone rings and that thought has disappeared forever.
Or not! Says the social bookmarker. Social bookmarking is that extra push that promotes the offsite content that little bit further to reach those further away from the Sun. In space terms: it is the lucky coincidence of all the right factors that gives Neptune a really great view of our biggest star. In SEO terms: it is the next level of promotion that widens the reach of a piece of content’s target audience. This then generates more traffic back to a website, which gives the site more authority, which means it should rank higher in search, which then drives more traffic to your site, which heightens the chance of a higher return on investment (ROI). Ahh! A cycle you say, much like a planet’s orbit of the sun!
This analogy is not to say that social bookmarking is like rocket science, it is far from it in fact. Popular social bookmarking sites such as Reddit, Stumble Upon and Delicious are actually very easy to use! They work through being a centralised base where links to other sites and content can be stored, much like when you bookmark a site onto your browser, just on an actual internet site. They are populated by hundreds and thousands of web users that like to keep websites or pages that interest them in one place. Some are more news based and so feature more relevant links and topics, others are less so and have a more random link-base.
How Can This Help My Website Reach A Wider Audience? I Hear You Cry…
Very easily in fact! Social Bookmarking sites like to use ‘tags’ to categorise what is being shared. This social tagging (folksonomy) allows flexible and user-friendly keywords to link related sites. For instance, if you were promoting a piece of content, or website, that was about or mentioned, let’s say, lawn mowers! Then you would probably tag the link with ‘lawn mowers’. These keywords can be searched and up will come a group of links, websites, articles, pictures, videos and so on, of anything related to ‘lawn mowers’. Normally bookmarks have several different tags so you could find out about ‘lawn mowers’ even if you were to search for ‘garden’.
How this works for the client website is that it helps the content, or URL, that has been created to be seen by an audience that may not be specifically looking to read about lawn mowers. It is an online marketing technique that allows you to reach a wider readership than if you were to create some really interesting content but leave it sitting there lonely, wishing it could make it to Neptune. It is, in some ways, more effective than social media in that your brand does not have to be ‘liked’ or ‘followed’, or have anything to do with lawn mowers in order for the content to be found. So through this it helps you to reach people that may not have heard of you or your services already, therefore reaching out to a new, wider audience.
Follow my contributions to the blog to find out more about digital marketing trends and techniques, or sign up to the ThoughtShift Guest List, our monthly email, to keep up-to-date on all our blog posts, guides and events.</p.