GotCast is an online clearinghouse where casting directors post jobs and aspiring performers submit audition videos. Some of those videos are amazing, inspiring, or funny. Founder and CEO Wil Schroter realized the videos themselves were valuable content that could help promote GotCast, so the company makes it easy for visitors to watch the videos and vote for favorites. GotCast posts links to some of its most popular videos on Digg, and some garner significant numbers of votes and viewings. That brings new visitors to the GotCast site.
Admittedly, GotCast has something of an unfair advantage, with talented performers submitting their very best videos every day. But if you use content to try to add value or appeal to your website, you owe it to yourself to have that content do double duty by building visibility for your company on social media sites such as Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. “If you can get on the front page of Digg, you’ll reach millions of eyeballs,” says Jon Wuebben, author of Content Rich: Writing Your Way to Wealth on the Web released this month. And even reaching front-page status in one of the sub-categories on the site can have a dramatic effect.
How do you get the votes? Simply posting quality content is not always enough. Here are some inside tips for getting the most social media play:
1. Make it personal. For written content, a lot depends on tone and the language used, Wuebben says. “You want to write in first person, and use ‘you’ a lot. Don’t write in third person, or anything that sounds like brochure copy. Write as if you were writing to a friend.”
“Your corporate training video probably won’t get a lot of love,” Schroter adds. “But if you, personally, have a reaction to something, if it makes you laugh or upsets you or touches you, then others may react the same way.”
2. Follow direct-mail rules. The same rules that help direct-mail copywriters get recipients to read “junk mail” will help you write social media-friendly content. These include stating something controversial, or offering valuable information such as a list of tips. And do put careful thought into the headline or title of your content. “Some of the best social media stories come from a great, usually provocative, headline,” Wuebben says.
3. Check out the sites before you create content. “You might want to go on Digg and see what’s on the homepage,” Wuebben says. “You can look in the section where your content would fit and see what’s getting ‘dugg’ the most.” That should help you figure out what kind of content would be likeliest to succeed on the site, and you can follow similar strategies for other social media sites as well.
4. Make it easy to share — and share it yourself. “We provide links for sharing content, or emailing it to a friend, on all our pages,” Schroter says. Sometimes users take advantage of these to share GotCast content on Digg or elsewhere, but the company also posts content to the sites itself — the only way to get consistent social media presence, he says. “Usually, it doesn’t happen unless we do it.”
5. Take a long view. “This is a tough thing that doesn’t happen overnight,” Wuebben cautions. It’s important to be patient, and to continue posting material to the social media sites that can slowly build recognition over time.
By the same token, a prominent placement, could lead to a dramatic traffic increase on your site. If this happens, don’t assume it will last forever. “People get that massive spike, and they think it will keep on coming,” Schroter says. “Then, six months later, traffic has returned to its earlier levels.”
And that’s okay. The temporary increase means a lot of people who may have never heard of your company now know who you are, and how to find you. And after all, that’s what promotion is all about.