Free social bookmarking has created a new landscape for web marketers hoping to increase the number of inbound links coming to their websites. With so many spammers trying to post links on free social bookmarking sites, though, it can be difficult to market good links effectively without being seen as just part of the spam problem. In this guide, you'll learn how to do free social bookmarking in a way that enhances your firm's reputation, rather than diminishing it.
#1: Be a Lurker First
One of the easiest mistakes to make when using free social bookmarking sites is finding out about a new site, signing up for an account, and then posting your first link right away. Before you do this, stop! Think about what you're doing. This would be a lot like coming to a party where you didn't know anybody at all, and then immediately trying to make yourself the center of attention. It's a lot more likely that you'll get kicked out than that you'll find yourself making friends.
Instead, do what the free social bookmarking community calls “lurking.” Read some free social bookmarking sites that strike you as interesting and potentially useful, so that you can see how people interact there. You may want to write notes down about each of the free social bookmarking sites you're interested in so that you can more easily keep track of them in your head.
#2: Know Your Audience
Audiences for different types of free social bookmarking content can be very different from one another. For example, it's fairly rare for attorneys to post on free social bookmarking sites like Pinterest, not because these websites are bad or have too small an audience, but rather because their audience is simply interested in different things.
Free social bookmarking will come much more easily if you take stock honestly of the audience you have, not the audience that you want to have. On many free social bookmarking websites, you can actually post to a much smaller sub-audience by putting posts into particular categories. In the same way that you lurked on free social bookmarking sites to begin with, you need to lurk in these sub-groups to find out their individual etiquette and what could lead to a ban.
#3: Don't Just Post—Comment!
If your free social bookmarking account just posts links that are related directly to your law firm, it won't be long before you're caught out as a spammer. Depending on which free social bookmarking websites you're using, the penalty for spamming could be as mild as deletion of your posts, or as severe as an IP ban (which will prevent you from registering or posting under any new account names).
In order to show that you really understand the concept of free social bookmarking and aren't just a spammer, you need to contribute to conversations. Making comments about other people's posts is an absolute necessity on most free social bookmarking sites if you don't want to be seen as a spam linker. What's more, your comments need to actually contribute and show an understanding of the discussion going on. If you just make generic comments, this is an immediate red flag to other free social bookmarking users and you could find yourself banned.
#4: Build Connections and Track Friends
If you've followed the first three rules in this article about joining free social bookmarking websites, you should at some point start to connect with other users. Perhaps someone often comments on your posts, or responds to your comments. These people can be some of your biggest allies when it comes time for linking new posts to free social bookmarking sites.
You can get free social bookmarking tools that will help you to find out who your friends are and who is following you on any particular free social bookmarking websites. Once you find these people, try sending them a private message (called a PM for short) that introduces yourself and attempts to make a more personal connection. If you're successful in building these connections using free social bookmarking websites, you'll have even more sources to post your new inbound links.
#5: Handle Criticism Professionally
Not every link you put up on free social bookmarking sites will be a winner. In fact, it's quite likely that at least once or twice you'll receive harsh critical comments. Some of these comments may come from “trolls” who intentionally try to make people upset. However, some are likely to be genuine criticism. You need to be able to separate the two and understand that criticisms aren't meant personally. Don't attack your critics, even if they are trolls—remember the old saying: don't wrestle with a pig, you both get dirty and the pig likes it.
#6: Don't Astroturf
Some companies that start using free social bookmarking tools try to artificially inflate their presence on free social bookmarking websites using a technique known as “astroturfing.” Usually, this involves getting several different free accounts, using one to post, and using more to comment (usually with effusive praise).
The problem with astroturfing is that it is all too obvious to longtime users of free social bookmarking websites. Astroturfers leave behind several telltale clues, like when the poster and commenters all signed up for their accounts within a week of each other. If you're found to be astroturfing on free social bookmarking sites, expect a ban—and possible public humiliation as the story comes to light.
#7: Keep Up With Internet Memes and Trends
In order to have the best chance of succeeding with your account on free social bookmarking websites, you'll need to keep up with the things that are being talked about there. “Memes,” which happen when a piece of content spreads virally and becomes used as a catchphrase or inside joke, can be a great way to connect with your free social bookmarking site audiences. By knowing their inside jokes, you'll be showing that you're one of them, not just a business person who is only interested in using their website and vanishing.