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What Social Networking Sites Do You Use? How Do they Benefit Your Blog?

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I’ve noticed over the last month that the numbers of requests to connect (or become friends) on social networking sites has dramatically increased. Every morning when I go through my inbox I find I’m approving more and more of these requests from Facebook and LinkedIn and even when I head over to MySpace I’m finding more and more friend requests (those links are to my profile pages if you’d like to connect).

What interests me is that while Facebook is on an overall growth surge at the moment that LinkedIn is sending me just as many connection requests this month – if not more.

I’m interested to hear what social networking sites people use, how they use them and if they’ve seen any tangible benefits of doing so – particularly for their blogging.

I’ve had a few low level benefits of being involved but am yet to see many tangible results.

One technique that I’ve seen a few friends using on LinkedIn is asking their connections questions through the ‘answers’ feature. While most of the questions I see asked are fairly basic, I wonder if there is some scope there to draw people together in some way that might benefit the blog. I’m still thinking that one through.

Keen to hear the experiences of others.

Social Bookmarking and Networking – How Involved Are You?

Belle from Working Blogger wrote me an interesting question last week on social networking and bookmarking communities that I thought might make an interesting topic for discussion for the wider community. She writes:

“What on earth is a blogger to do about all the various social networking communities. I do love StumbleUpon because it’s just so easy to use, but things like MyBlogLog and FaceBook and MySpace and the gazillion and one new social networking communities that seem to spring up all over the place – how do you know which one to spend your energy on? And then there’s Netscape vs. Digg – sometimes it seems to me that keeping track of what’s going on among all the various communities is a full-time endeavour in and of itself.”

I would love to get the ProBlogger readerships perspective on this one – please leave your thoughts in comments below.

  • Do you use social bookmarking and networking sites?
  • If so, which ones?
  • Do you find that they actually help your blogging? If so – how?
  • How much time do you spend on these sorts of activities each week?
  • What does being involved in them effectively involve for you?

A few reflections from me:
My own feelings on social bookmarking and networking sites is mixed. I do get involved to some extent. Some of those that I have accounts with include (I’ve linked to my profile pages for each if you’re interested in connecting):

[Read more...]

ProBlogger Readers Do it Better…. than Digg Users

Wendy writes a great post today in her introduction to Social Media Strategy and Socially Driven Content.

In the post she talks to bloggers about why they should learn about social media, what results they can get and how to start out in it.

What caught my attention was right down the bottom of her post where she did a little comparison to how Digg, StumbleUpon, Netscape and delicious readers interacted on her site over a 7 day period in terms of visitor numbers, page views per visitor and time spent on her site.

She then did a little analysis of ProBlogger readers over the same period (54 visitors). The visitors came simply by writing quality comments on my posts here (and she does write insightful comments).

The results speak for themselves.

While social bookmarking sites can potentially send a lot more traffic:

  • ProBlogger readers stay longer per visit (you stay 18 times longer than Digg users)
  • ProBlogger readers visit more pages over that visit (2.5 times as many pages than Digg users).

Wendy writes:

I’ve grown to really appreciate the Digg crowd (even though they are mean as all hell sometimes), but if I had to pick, I’d take those 54 ProBlogger visitors over a big Digg any day.”

I guess that goes to show what quality readers you all are!

Seriously though (and you are quality readers – but there’s a lesson here) it’s also a good illustration of the power of different types of traffic.

While Digg can send you a heap of visitors in a short period of time they rarely stay long, rarely go deeper within your blog and rarely comment. On the other hand traffic from another blog on a similar topic (even if it’s just a from a comment) can drive a different quality of traffic.

Not only will they stay longer, comment more and view more pages I suspect they’ll also subscribe to your newsletter and RSS feed in higher numbers but they’ll respond more to your income streams (ads and affiliate products).

More reading on different types of traffic:

Being ‘Discovered’ vs ‘Slow and Steady’ Blog Growth

Reader QuestionsKumiko asks – ‘I was studying John Chow’s traffic patterns through Alexa and noticed that his popularity really surged after four of his articles were listed on Digg and his traffic went through the roof. He was ‘discovered’ through these and his traffic levels have never really looked back. And receiving a link in one of your posts has done wonderful things for my own traffic!

What were landmark posts or actions that you did in order to receive the traffic that you have now? Was there a single post or link that sent your traffic sky-high and made you a ‘pro-blogger?’

Good question – although not the easiest one to answer as there have been many such moments in the 4 or so years that I’ve been blogging.

Before answering the question from my own perspective let me make a more general observation.

Being ‘Discovered’ vs ‘Slow and Steady’ Blog Growth

Every blog is so different and for some the process of ‘being discovered’ that you write about above is definitely a factor (usually after a big blog or social network site links up).

On the other hand there are also many popular blogs out there where the rise to success was much more slow and steady.

For this second group it is the accumulation of good blogging over a sustained period of time that gets them discovered – one reader at a time, one day at a time and one post at a time. I suspect this second group represents the majority of bloggers.

Speaking Personally

If i were to plot my own blogging experience on the spectrum between being ‘discovered’ and the ‘slow and steady’ approach I’d have to say that it’s differed for me from blog to blog. Here’s how it’s been on three of my own blogs:

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Connect with me via Facebook… and more

Over the last few weeks I’ve had an influx of invitations to connect with people on Facebook. I’ve never promoted my page on this social networking site but as there seems to be some momentum on it I figure why not – so if you’d like to connect there please do via this badge.

Darren Rowse's Facebook profile

Also – if you’re interested in seeing what happens when some of the b5media team get together face to face check out some of Chad’s photos of the evening last night at a French restaurant in downtown Toronto.

PS: While we’re talking social networking – if you’d like to be my ‘friend’ or be ‘connected’ on other social network sites you might also like to do so at:

LinkedIn
MySpace
MyBlogLog

Using Social Bookmarking Sites to Find Out What Your Readers Like

Alex Iskold and Richard MacManus have put together a nice analytical post with some insights into how they determined which are the most popular posts on Read/WrightWeb based upon social bookmarking sites Digg and Delicious.

I’ve seen people do this type of analysis of how their blog is going based upon comment levels and page views (in fact there are plugins to do it and post the results on your sidebar) but the idea of using social bookmarking sites as a basis for the information makes a lot of sense and as you’ll see by their post reveals a different picture.

Some of their reflections on the process:

On Delicious

“The pattern on del.icio.us is less obvious, but things become more clear once we realize that del.icio.us and comments on a blog reflect different kinds of actions. Comments reflect passions, bookmarks serve as references – so there is little overlap between them. More importantly, comments (like posts) are short lived. Unfortunately in our day and age, news and even analysis has a life span of a few hours. Once a post is off the front page of a blog, it is less discoverable and typically is not commented on anymore. The bookmarks of del.icio.us, however, have a longer lifespan.”

On Digg

“We noted that the posts that did well on Digg are somewhat different from the ones that got a lot of comments and picked up more links on del.icio.us. The full query results told us that while Digg users love posts about search, they also love the posts about browsers. In particular the Firefox vs. IE battle is dear to their hearts. And of course, digg users love posts about Digg – especially when it’s about Digg kicking competitor Netscape’s butt!”

While this type of analysis wouldn’t work for many blogs that don’t get much traction on social bookmarking sites – it is something a little different to what I’ve seen bloggers doing before to find out what readers are reacting to.

Digg To Stop Making Their Users Famous

Digg have decided to scrap the top Diggers list – as of tomorrow. This comes as a result of increasing numbers of people attempting to pay top users to get them on the popular page.

This will cause a big stir among some digg users (especially those who have built quite a reputation on digg) – but what do you think it’s impact will be?

I think one of the things that is behind the success of sites like Digg is that they make their users famous and give them incentive to build a reputation/profile. While it might not impact their day to day user I’ve already talked to one top 40 Digger who’s not particularly happy about it.

Kevin does say that they’re working on new ways of connecting and rewarding users – it’ll be interesting to see what they do.

Hat tip – Tony

Technorati launches WTF Digg Clone

Steve writes that Technorati has launched a new digg clone feature called Technorati WTF (where’s the fire).

It allows users to submit posts that they think are hot – and then people vote for what they think is… hot.

I’m getting an 404 error page when I go there at present so maybe they’re still launching but like Steve I’m a little confused as to why they’re going in this direction.

I guess it makes sense that they might have a service that identifies what’s hot around the web at any given time – but wouldn’t it be more useful to have some sort of an index of hot posts via how many links they have incoming – as that’s what they track with their core service anyway (ie a Tech Meme Clone)? I guess they’re sort of doing this already with their ‘top videos’, ‘top news’, ‘top blooks’ lists.

Perhaps another way to do it would be to index digg, delicious, reddit etc and have a ‘top bookmarks’ list or something.

Anyway – it’s hard to critique something that isn’t working from a screenshot – so hopefully we’ll get to see it working soon enough.

Digg Traffic vs Referral Traffic – Which is Best?

Digital Inspiration has a post on Getting Noticed by A-list bloggers vs Getting on Digg Front Page which makes a few worthwhile observations.

It fits pretty closely to a comment I made last week in an interview with Jeremy when I was asked which social networking site I’d prefer to get traffic from. My response was (and I’m paraphrasing here) that while I don’t mind the rush of traffic of traffic that a site like Digg can bring in that I’d prefer a link from another blogger because it brings a different type of traffic.

Digg Traffic – While Digg brings a rush of traffic – it does so from a site with a very broad focus in terms of topics. It also sends the traffic largely from a link with little context around it and in most cases a link that comes from a largely anonymous person.

Blog Traffic - Traffic from another blogger is different on a number of levels. While it might not come in the same numbers – it will generally come with commentary and context, from a site that usually has some sort of a single focus, from a person who has established some level of trust and/or profile with their readers.

As a result – in most cases the Digg traffic comes and goes quickly and doesn’t usually hang around for dialogue – whereas referrals from other sites is more likely to ‘convert’ either as a longer term viewer, RSS subscriber, newsletter member or comment leaver.

Of course Digg traffic isn’t completely useless – in fact if you harness it you can grow a blog over time. It comes in such high numbers that even if only a very small group stick around it can be worthwhile.

It also brings a round of secondary links – which can be good for SEO and lastly it doesn’t hurt the old ego and can give a rush of motivation to a blogger. The key with Digg traffic however is to work on converting readers into loyal ones.

More reflections on different types of traffic at: