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31/08/06

User Generated Content / Social Media Optimisation

Two brief points. Firstly, Iain Tait of Poke posted last week about clients who ask for user generated content. It’s not a blanket response, but is a good rhetorical stance:

“[Client] Why don’t we let people get involved. Give them a way to upload their short movies / photographs / demo-tracks / homages to our product / ideas / knitting patterns / kazoo melodies / etc. They can win prizes.”
[Agency] “Would you do it?”
[Client] “What do you mean?”
[Agency]“Well, would you upload something?”
[Client] “Um, yeah, I guess so”
[Agency]“Would you…? Honestly…?”
[Client] “No… But… Um… Well… It’s not really aimed at me is it…?”
[Agency]“So you wouldn’t, but they will right?”
[Client] “Yeah, it’s what they’re doing isn’t it?”

Whenever you have an idea, or someone else has an idea that requires participation, just ask them (or yourself) one very very simple question: “Would you do it?”. You may not be the target audience, but you’ll know, deep down, if what you’re suggesting is right.

The second point is relevant in the climate where clients are, as above, clamouring to get involved in social networking / community sites – in the same way as saying they wanted to ‘go viral’ all those years ago. It is the emergence of Social Media Optimisation: the creation of content and pages on web 2.0 sites which are created, and optimised, to benefit business and direct traffic to third party sites. It’s the 2.0 equivalent of search engine optimisation (getting high google rankings, basically) and operates in equally black, white, and grey areas.

Searchenginewatch says

It’s worth considering. Conceptually, some of this stuff isn’t new. For example, we long had people taking about ways to help others bookmark your web site. But today’s new wave of social media sites can operate as a magnifying glass. Get that one person to bookmark you to del.icio.us and in turn you might tap into many other links. And those links, of course, flow back into helping with search rankings.

and proceeds to link to a flurry of articles on the subject. In short,

that’s one of the biggest adjustments coming from the SEO world and into SMO, understanding that your presence can be in multiple places without being harmful.

Here’s what I mean. Generally in SEO, it’s good advice to have one single web site that you point to. Build traffic to a common domain, rather than divide it among various places. Sure, as you mature in SEO, you learn the advantages to having multiple sites. A corporate blog and a corporate web site can equate to double the representation in top search results. But there are limits, and you’re still basically driving traffic to places you own.

With SMO, the adjustment is understanding that you have multiple places that while you don’t own them still can be valuable to you. A Flickr profile can get you traffic in the Flickr space. Similarly, your del.icio.us bookmarks while on the del.icio.us site still might drive traffic. And have you gotten a MySpace profile yet? Go now, because you might decide you want it to drive traffic from MySpacers down the line.

Posted by Peter Collingridge in Web.

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