In the last few years social news sites have become an extremely effective marketing tool with the ability to drive a huge amount of traffic to your website.
Although the numbers using these websites are relatively small in global terms (Digg.com, the largest, has just under 2m users) the audiences comprise thousands of early adopters and key influencers who have the power to seriously affect your brand.
Social news sites
Some leading blogs have over half a million subscribers so having your products featured on one can lead to a large number of sales. Conversely, any negative publicity can be extremely damaging, especially for a small business.
The largest of the social news sites are Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit but similar sites exist in other languages and there are a number of specialist sites springing up to cater for users with a very specific interest such as hugg.com which is dedicated to the environment. A full list of the more "niche" sites can be found here.
These social sites can be quite worrying for business owners. Digg has the ability to send up to 100,000 visitors to popular stories, so if you are a major brand and get caught out in the middle of a negative story then being featured on Digg is going to make the situation a whole lot worse.
On the other hand, it can be a very useful tool to help quell a negative story. You can use the comments area of Digg to give your side and maybe even post a link to a press release giving the real details behind the story.
If you want to start submitting news stories or interesting pages from your own site to social news websites, it helps to take the time to learn the basics first.
Start off by becoming a user of the site and monitoring the sort of stories that are being made popular over the course of a few weeks.
Maybe even submit some stories that you see on major news sites so that you can see how the community reacts. Unless you can submit content from major news sites that goes on to become popular, it is unlikely that submitting your own stories is going to yield much traffic.
Once you are familiar with the type of stories people like, it is important to make sure your article is in the right format. Web users like nicely laid out content with:
Most importantly no intrusive adverts or commercial content.
Communicating with bloggers is one of the things companies large and small struggle with. The key is to send a nice, personal, email perhaps pitching your product or stating that you read the blog.
Smaller bloggers often promote products in return for a discount or freebie and will be happy to listen to any pitch from a legitimate company.
Companies that embrace social media are far more likely to be able to positively influence their brand online than companies that remain silent.
What's your social media strategy?