Lesson 4. Reverse Promotion: How to use social media to get your message out
Our next step is to get your blog noticed so people will find it and can read it.
The initial way people are finding stuff right now are via search engines. But people don’t keep using search engines once they find their communities for the niches they live in. They bookmark the sites they visit all the time, plus any additional sites they’ve found of value. Businesses find that they rely on repeat customers and get their new customers from referrals.
(While I talk about search engines below, factually any business quickly changes from a stream of visitors who come and go, to a stable of clients who continually visit, stay, and contribute to that company. The emphasis on search engines, like all the emphasis on advertising out there, is not the end product of your marketing or your blogging – it’s only the start. Practically, you can nearly ignore search engines after awhile. But I’ll mention more of this in the subsequent book…)
Search engines are in the business of earning their money by providing a service to their users. Most are advertising-supported and sell space on their results to finance their operation. In order to stay popular, they have to follow the law of the Internet as mentioned above: they have to provide valuable content fast.
So search engines tend to follow what people like and study how people look for things. Search engines are constantly evolving as they do more research and also plug holes where people have gamed their system.
The whole study of “Search Engine Optimization” is how to set up your web pages so that they deliver everything that most search engines want – which is their list of what people use to determine what’s valuable. And as search engines refine themselves through their research, SEO experts have had to change what they say is the best way to get “on top” of the search engine results.
Those two points above, Valuable Information and Speed, are the essential ones which haven’t changed. Sure there are a handful of points to follow that will help a search engine keep your stuff on top, (and I hope to have these as an addendum to this essay), but if you are producing stuff that people can use and solve problems that actually exist in peoples’ lives, then you are going to have content people consider valuable. And if your blog host delivers this quickly to them, then you have it covered.
Just a short note here – if you don’t post regularly, the search engines won’t keep you on top of the heap. They are fresh content driven. But we’ll talk about them later and how you can simply keep your blog on top regardless of newcomers…
There is a change happening which is threatening search engines and they know it. Social media – that rough description of networking, bookmarking, blogging, videoing, podcasting, picture sharing, and probably another dozen names – has all but taken over the Internet.
Of course, it was just a matter of time. People are social and tribal by nature. They like their groups and niches and networks. This is how things have always gotten done on this planet – despite how much governments and TV broadcasting networks and newspapers and mega-corporations think they actually affect things. So it’s inevitable that people started finding their old friends and making new friends online – and developing as well as strengthening all sorts of groups with common interests.
And this has the search engines worried – because most of these groups have built-in or have acquired their own search functions. They also have their own ad-revenue streams – so the search engines are being cut out of the pie. (You’ll also see this as your own blog becomes popular – at first, most of the traffic is coming from search engines. Later on, most of your traffic is direct or referred from other sites. This is your own community of followers in action.)
If you’ve never done social networks, not to worry – they are just like blogs, you sign up, write something witty and pithy, then hit the enter/return key. Simple. Rinse and repeat.
The Search Engine Solution
So in order to serve up relevant, valuable content, these guys have been working for years to shift over to rating-based systems, which are determined by the social media. This is why a blog will suddenly show up and take over the top spot in the search engine standings. It’s a social media, after all.
Ratings are a form of voting. You go to Digg and you can “digg” or “bury” an entry there. Same with StumbleUpon or most article directories – you say what you think is valuable and what you consider trash.
On a blog, the number of comments and incoming links say what your blog means to people. Search engines track everything about a site and then make their conclusions about how valuable it is in relation to other pages which use approximately the same words. And that is what they serve up in their standings.
If you post stuff to social sites, then you can get a huge number of people seeing your stuff and voting on it or rating it. Same way as I suggested earlier for some to go and comment on other people’s blogs and link to them. This makes their blogs show up higher on Google and the scammers drop in those rankings.
(And if you want to do something with your spare time, go to
these places where your particular scammer is found and vote them down.
But don’t comment on their blog posts – even if they let you. That puts
them up in the standings, if all you did was cuss at them. Figure that
search engines aren’t perfect, yet.)
Forums and Boards
If you haven’t guessed yet, this is also the power of these complaint forums and boards. I didn’t know this until I saw the results. Every time you comment on these various boards, they move up on the search engine rankings for whatever they are talking about. Any particular scammer is mentioned – particularly in the title – and if there are 40 or more comments on that thread – it stays on top until something with more current or more voluminous comments shows up.
That fulfillment company we all know has been using social media to take itself to the top of the search engine standings by abusing this system. However, they quickly started sinking when people started complaining about their company and it’s poor service. And they had no defense, since their community of victims was far greater than those of their “supporters”.
And community trumps every time. That is why voting them down every chance you get is both good for your health and theirs – makes them want to reform. Or any dedicated community of bloggers will make government and others pay enough attention to make them want to reform.
Using social media to get the word out
There’s an interesting set of services which are starting to show up on the web. These can take any blog feed you have (RSS) and send it to any number of social media. This is post once, publish many times. Actually a form of broadcast promotion for your blog. The trick is to just use one of these, as they can interact and you’ll get several copies of your post floating around.
Best I’ve found so far is Ping.fm. Just visit that site and set up an account. Then set up accounts with all the various places they forward your stuff to. Make sure you fill out all the profiles as you sign up. All those little squiggly details like your favorite movies and such. (You can keep a text editor handy with the responses you type and then copy/paste the relevant data.) You go to Twitterfeed and just take copy the RSS feed of your blog and paste in there – ping.fm will then automagically send out notices that you’ve just posted again.
There’s a good article about doing this on Mashable (http://mashable.com/2009/03/07/manage-multiple-profiles/)
As you can (if you want) you’ll be able to revisit all these profiles and leave links to your other social media as well – so people can find you more easily. )
Now, there are more and more of these type services showing up. So only use one. And also set it up on your desktop so that you also “ping.fm” other sites and make it interesting for your growing list of followers…