Last week I suddenly became completely bored with the contents of my iPod. Normally I’d pop over to iTunes or try Googling a few things to get some new ideas. But this time I went to Digg. A few minutes later I had the names of some awesome bands I’d never heard of before, thanks to other people thoughtfully sharing their favorite webpages about Tech/Extreme Prog Metal and Ragga Jungle (just kidding – my tastes aren't quite that extreme, but close).
For those of you who aren’t already best friends with the likes of Delicious, StumbleUpon and the aforementioned Digg, these sites all come under the umbrella of ‘social bookmarking’. Social bookmarking websites allow you to save a list of sites that you find interesting (kind of like your regular browser bookmarks function), but with a couple of differences. Firstly, you can access these bookmarks from anywhere, on any computer, just by logging into your account. And secondly, your bookmarks are public, so other people can see what type of content you are currently enjoying. (Note that many social bookmarking sites also allow you to save privately if you want, but that takes the fun out of it a bit). As you save your bookmarks, you can ‘tag’ them by topic, meaning other people with similar interests can find them and save or ‘vote’ for the webpage too.
Ultimately, social bookmarking sites give you a fantastic way of finding interesting content on the internet. The voting system means that genuinely good content gets pushed to the top of the pile, without being influenced by black hat tactics and other kinds of trickery. Here are some other reasons why social bookmarking is something you need to seriously consider getting aboard:
1. Humans do it better
Search engines like Google use a complex algorithm to return 'relevant' results and they work fantastically when you looking for something very specific. But they don’t work so well if you aren’t sure exactly what you’re after. On the other hand, social bookmarking services are fantastic brainstorming and creative aids. Nothing beats 100 humans actually reading something and deciding it's good. All you need to enter is a very broad topic and you’re off on a journey that might very well lead you in unexpected and exciting directions.
2. Spot emerging trends early on
By the time something turns up on Google's front page your grandmother will have known about it for a week. Yet affiliate marketers and web entrepreneurs need to get in on trends at the chrysalis stage so they can capitalize on the rising surge of traffic. Now I'm not suggesting you fill your pages with irrelevant keywords just because they're flavor of the day, but sometimes you will find an emerging trend that is relevant to you or your niche. Social bookmarking sites are throwing up new trends all the time, so they are incredibly valuable places for affiliate marketers to hang out.
3. Learn what’s hot (and what’s not)
You've probably heard that social bookmarking services can send a lot of traffic to your site or blog, but it's not just as simple as placing a 'Digg It' or 'Stumble This' button on your page. Certain types of content naturally get more attention in these services. Yes you need to be interesting, but a 40,000 word dissertation on the geopolitical history of the Middle East, although immensely fascinating to a nerd like me, may not spin the wheels of most social bookmarking users. If you’re worried about being out of touch, then start reading through the popular content to get a feel for where it’s at.
4. Share and be shared
The really popular social bookmarking users are not the ones who just vote for their own content – they find and vote on interesting stuff from all over the web. They become a reliable source of good information, one which people will go back to time and time again. So while there's nothing wrong with submitting your own content to the bookmarking services, make sure you spend a while sharing other people's as well. Think of it as online 'Karma' - the more you give to these communities, the more you'll get back in return
If you haven’t already done so, then I highly recommend registering for Sphinn, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit to begin with. Social bookmarking sites are huge potential sources of information and many of these services have a natural online marketing or social media focus, which means they are great places to find relevant information to help your own online marketing activities.
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You may have noticed we have buttons linking to several major bookmarking services at the bottom of most of our content. We're in the process of updating this system, but if you do find yourself enjoying one or even several of our articles, we would be eternally grateful if you could help us share them with the world.