I’ve spent an age avoiding getting involved in Social Networking of any real note. I’ve always contributed to forums, stuck comments on blogs and wasted time on newsgroups. But recently I’ve been messing around researching what these Social Network things can do for me. The results have been surprising.
Social Network – Ning
At Ning you can set up your own social network- woo hoo. Who cares these things are mostly rubbish and have no traction and no way of ‘leveraging’ the traffic that you get. Its all fine and well getting traffic but if it doesn’t go where you want it to why would anyone invest in it.
So having set up a network on Ning and started doing all the things you should I started to find that people joined it. OK we’re upto about 10 now – but thats nine people I never connected with before. thats nine people who have now given me links to a website and nine people who are saying nice things about the things we do @ the social network and we’re starting to get some traction. The traffic this is delivering isn’t great but I can directly attribute 200 IBL from related websites/blogs to the core website gained through this network – oh and the target site got a mention in an email newsletter (which has generated a decent set of clicks). And its only taken about 2 hours to get up and running. Normally to get 200 good links would take longer than this and the quality/relevance would be a heck of a lot lower. And these links keep growing. If I blog about something these guys are interested in the site gets more links.
Social Network – Bebo
When I sat through the recent Omniture Summit the dude speaking was talking about how social networks help to influence buying decisions and the websites we all visit. If someone we trust on a social network gives us an opinion – and we trust them – we’re likely to take the opinion on board. I went to my brothers Bebo page and was reading his comments – and someone had posted something about a website selling collars (leather/rubber collars in an S&M stylee). I have no interest in this particular product (or any related products) but I clicked on it. Here was someone I don’t know reccomending a website I have no interest in but I went and had a look at it.
Social Networking – What is it good for?
So here’s the problem. Can you use/leverage/abuse social networks to get your site traffic and sales. I’ve been reading for ages about how you can do X, or to try Y on a social network and you’ll get the benefit. And most of its baloney. The truth is to get the most out of it you need to be building relationships. If you have a blog on a topic let the community guide you on which content to write – if they’re talking about it, they’ll read it and then they’ll link to it and they’ll tell their online friends about it – getting you links and traffic at the same time (think of it like targetted link baiting). And remember, as with all blogging, to link out. don’t hoard your links people will use your site as a conduit and if you link out well people will trust your links. the more trust you get the mroe you can ‘frmae’ debates rather than just ‘follow’ them.
So have fun networking online – don’t take it too seriously and make it easy for people to come to you.