There was a time when in order to promote your content you had to focus on search engines and external links. Even today both these entities matter a lot but there is a third force that could prove to be far more penetrating when it comes to distributing your content: social media.
Some prominent examples of social media are blogging, Twitter.com, FaceBook.com, Ning.com, Youtube.com, Digg.com and StumbleUpon.com. Some of these are interactive tools and some are social bookmarking and recommendation websites but their basic function is helping people promote and generate content.
The compelling reason for having great content, and lots of it
These days it is an aberration if an organization or a professional individual providing services on the Internet does not publish a blog. A blog helps you communicate with your audience unhindered by geographical and technological barriers. Blogging has almost become a “traditional” content publishing platform as many people are quickly switching over to micro-blogging. Nevertheless, blogging still rules when it comes to publishing and promoting content; in fact most of the links being promoted on the social media and bookmarking websites belong to blogs.
So what is the value of your content in the context of social media and what all should you consider while creating and publishing content? It is very similar to creating a viral marketing campaign.
Your content on social media websites thrives upon the users’ tendency to recommend interesting and relevant links to their followers and friends. In fact some users produce no original content; they simply forward and promote other links with their own comments sprinkled here and there.
There are two interesting features of users active on social media websites:
- They promote content
- They discuss content
In order to leverage the power of social media, first of all you have to create content on a regular basis and the content must be interesting and valuable enough so that they feel compelled to share it with their friends and followers. On websites like Twitter.com people tweet your link and then their followers retweet it if they feel like it and that is how your content spreads. The same thing happens on FaceBook. On Digg.com the users “digg” your link if they like it and the more “diggs” your link can garner the more prominent spot it gets on the website. In the case of StumbleUpon the more thumbs-ups you can get, with greater frequency your link is put in front of its users.
In the case of bloggers if they like your content they link to it and write about it. From there, further, other bloggers and social media users can write about your content, link to it or promote it.
Does your content always have to be likeable and acceptable? Not always. Sometimes people will write about your content, link to it and promote it to show disagreement or express a totally different point of view. Just make sure that whenever you are publishing highly controversial and contradictory content you are sure of what you are doing. This is more important amidst social media websites where it takes a long time to build reputation and very little time to dismantle it.
The moot point is if you want to generate and publish content for the purpose of spreading your ideas and getting more business you have to work on it keeping social media in mind. The power of social media is so great that some Internet marketers have already started claiming that you no longer need the whimsical search engines to get quality traffic. In fact the traffic that you get from social media websites and blogs is more targeted because it is promoted by real people rather than ranking algorithms.
There was a time when the search engines like Google asked for more and more content so that that content could be indexed and ranked. There was a lot of talk, there still is, about creating content that is search engine friendly as well as human friendly. Sometimes if you didn’t face much competition you didn’t even have to generate lots of content. But this is not the case when you want to promote your website through social media websites. You constantly have to publish content that creates buzz among social media circles.
This trend spells trouble for organizations and individuals that have always been downplaying the value of quality content. On social media you cannot create a credible presence unless you have credible content.
Of course, by simply creating and publishing great content you cannot become a social media darling; you need to have a following. It is very hard to make people listen to you if they haven’t listened to you in the past, and that too, repetitively. People on Twitter and FaceBook sometimes have thousands of followers and they themselves are following thousands of people. This means a continuous stream of messages in front of them. How to develop a following that eagerly listens to you? This topic is beyond the scope of this blog post but yes it is an important part of leveraging social media. You cannot hack into that. Either you have to be a celebrity or a well-known person in your niche, or you have to build your followers from scratch and this may take many months. Collaborating with people who are already highly active on various social media websites may help.