Introduction to Social Media Optimization


In the 1989 movie "Field of Dreams," a corn farmer hears voices telling him to build a baseball field. The voices say, "If you build it, they will come."

Unfortunately in the world of startups and technology, often people build it, but no one comes. The missing element for these ventures is effective marketing. If no one knows about your great invention, website, or product/service, no one will use it or buy it.

The process of marketing new ventures was revolutionized in the past decade with the advent of the Internet, and specifically search engine optimization and advertising on sites such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Such advertising gave ventures the opportunity to quickly and cost-effectively reach thousands of targeted buyers/users.
Fortunately, a further evolution in new (and established) venture marketing has emerged.

The driver of this evolution is "social news gathering," a process whereby Internet users find information, rate it and share it with others using established platforms. Such platforms, also known as social bookmarking sites, include Digg,, Furl, Reddit and StumbleUpon among others. This evolution has resulted in a new marketing discipline known as "Social Media Optimization," which is the art and science behind getting your company's news to rank highly on these platforms.

Let's look at how such sites work using Digg as our example. If you visit a web page and like it, you submit the story to Digg. Often sites have icons such as the ones to the right, which link directly to the article on Digg.

Once the story is submitted, it is posted in Digg's upcoming stories section which is read by Digg members. If enough Digg members digg/promote the story, the story gets catapulted to Digg's homepage. Once here, thousands of people will read the summary of the story. Furthermore, many of the people who read the stories on Digg's homepage are bloggers, who, if they like the story, might write about the story on their own blog, thus making even more people aware of it. As you can see, a Digg-worthy story could quickly reach a widespread Internet audience.

Regarding Digg and other social media sites, it is important to note the following:
To get noticed on Digg or other social media sites, your story generally needs to be sensational. No one cares about a press release introducing a new company or a new product you have launched. Spend time on Digg and the other sites learning what each community finds interesting and tends to promote.

Don't try to game the system. People have tried to, for example, create 1,000 Digg accounts that incestuously Digg stories. Companies like Digg are smarter than that and have safeguards to avoid manipulation.

If you're not convinced of the power of Social Media Optimization, maybe this article entitled "Anatomy of a Super Digg" will convice you. The article describes the distribution of a report entitled "8 Diseases That Give You Superhuman Powers" that, through social media optimization, was able to drive 234,000 unique visitors to the author's website within five days.

Digg recently enrolled its one millionth member. If you haven't already joined, you may be missing something big!

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Jeanette Stewart says

Dear Growthink:
I have never commented on a post before, but I felt compelled to respond to this one. Why is it that you Masters of the Universe keep insisting that those who are not a part of the social bookmarking mania are misfits of some sort?

All of your points regarding social media optimization hit the mark, except for one: those who have not joined or visited Digg are missing very little, if anything. They can and do read or view what's "hot" on Digg everywhere else.

Further, and perhaps more important, those who "may be missing something big" may have intentionally elected to be guided by their own tastes, as opposed to those dictated by the massses. Because we live in a changing, diverse world of unparalleled fecundity, it is a matter of natural consequence that such diversity is reflected in individual choice and preferences.

Great article, nontheless.

Posted at 11:12 pm
Dave Lavinsky says


Thanks for your post. I agree with you that you are not missing anything by getting your news elsewhere.

What I think is that businesses are missing a great potential marketing opportunity by not participating on these sites.

Posted at 3:15 pm

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