How to Use Social Media to your Advantage

You've written an article on a really great topic, it's optimized and published to your website. The next question is how will people find it?

The largest thing in news right now is user-generated content, citizen journalism or citizen media. These labels are reliably intertwined, but all mean basically the same thing: news written by the people for the people; the most important word in that phrase being "people."

Sites like Digg, Newsvine and Reddit are just a few of the emerging social news sites. These sites allow registered members to delve into millions of pages of content on the web, grab the web address and post it with a captivating headline and brief summary. Users can then decipher whether it's worth a visit or not. The process behind getting an article published on these sites is not difficult. What is difficult is enticing digs, votes, and readers. It's all about being popular again.

With that said, let's get back to your fantastic article.

First, you must register yourself on the social news sites. You can join one or all of them if you like; the great thing registration is free. Once you've done that, submitting your article is easy.

Next is where "for the people" comes into play.

Once the article is submitted, other members of said social news site may stumble upon it. Users are then faced with a couple decisions, to either vote for or ban against it. Depending on what site you're using, a vote against an article may not be allowed (Newsvine only allows positive votes). The interest, sensationalism or timeliness of the piece may also determine the amount of mercy voters that are likely to have.

Interest typically peaks in a news piece when visual and auditory stimuli, such as video clips or sound bytes, are presented. A proactive tip to getting increased visilibity in social news sites is to email friends and family asking them to vote for or digg the article to increase its ratings.

However, if an article submitted by you is not backed by the "people," it may never get the attention you want and need it to. This is definitely an inconvenient occurrence for some articles on Digg because it allows users to "bury" articles that do not like, view as spam or are untimely.

If your article still seems to be at the bottom of the heap, the social news sites offer some tips on how to gain popularity; unfortunately when it's up to users to determine what's hot and what's not, these tips will only get you so far. Sometimes, the Sanjaya-type voting makes number one stories out of things that seem far less less newsworthy than more prominent issues facing today's world, so it's up to your discretion.

Here's a suggestion on gaining popularity from Digg.com:

"After you submit content, other people read your submission and Digg what they like. If your story rocks and receives enough Diggs, it is promoted to the front page for the millions of visitors to see.
What can you do as a Digg user? Lots. Every person can digg (help promote), bury (help remove spam), and comment on stories … you can even Digg and borrow comments you like or dislike. Digg also allows you to track your friends' activity through the site – want to share a video or news story with a friend? Digg it! "

Digg and Reddit are social news sites that really seem to attract the MySpace and blogging crowds. They are simple and cleanly laid out, but they have a certain feel to them appealing to a younger generation of internet users.

Newsvine is an emerging, still reliably small social news site. It is laid out more like an online newspaper with article briefs and pictures to accompaniment headlines. The topics covered within Newsvine are the latest news updates from all over the world. The news is not necessarily better, but caters to a different crowd, one seemingly more involved with political and international current events.

Newsvine was created by former employees of large media, such as Disney and ESPN, the ultimate goal being "to bring together big and little media in a way which respects established journalism and empowers the individual at the same time (Newsvine.com)."

The triggers behind story popularity are similar to Digg, where users within the community can vote on a story if they really like it, but they can only vote positively.

The real power behind social news comes from the people, the users. It's hard to judge what the public is really looking for in a good news story, but depending on the sites you use, some stories will catch on faster than others. Be persistent and keep track of all the news you submit. Once your article is published tell your friends and family. The users will take over from there.

 
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