Lee Odden

Five Blunders with Social News and Bookmarking

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

Listen. Can you hear it? All the buzz about social media marketing? What you might not know is that with all that sound there’s an awful lot of noise. That difficulty manifests itself in the form of basic misconceptions, blunders and flat out mistakes when trying to participate and market with social news and bookmarking sites.

Here are a few common and basic social media news and bookmarking mistakes to watch out for:

1. Submitting press releases to social news sites. This is social media suicide, but there are marketers and PR practitioners out there endorsing the submission of press releases to social news as if it’s the same thing as submitting press releases to news search engines. It’s not the same thing at all.

This kind of content gets the most play at social news communities when it is coverage of an announcement, not the actual news release. Rather than submitting a press release to Digg, Netscape, Reddit, etc, focus on getting a popular blogger to write about your news. Once that happens, draw attention to the bloggers’ coverage of your news via social news and bookmark sites.

When your company gets picked up in online media, you should be using using web based bookmarks as a clipping service anyway.

2. Add every social bookmarking icon you can think of to the bottom of your blog posts, just to be thorough. Bzzzt, wrong answer! Adding too many bookmark icons will only confuse or annoy the visitor giving the impression that the blog is desperate. Find out what social news and bookmark communities your content best resonates with and only list those services as options. 1-4 at most. Either that, or hide the other bookmark options in a foldout or dropdown menu.

3. Submit your own content. If you’re going to actively submit and vote on content within social news and bookmarking communities, pick a nice, generic moniker. That does not mean submitting your own content under an ambiguous handle, it means social communities tend to dislike branded or commercial sounding user names. Participate in the community and create value. Don’t bother using your brand name.

4. Relying on a network of people to vote on stories. It’s amazingly easy to detect voting patterns with social news sites. Both Digg and Netscape offer functionality to invite others to read stories, but be smart about how often you do this and with who. Only invite those people you think would really be interested in the content, not just people who will give you a vote without question. People who are interested will also leave the best comments, which can generate even more interest.

5. Related to above: “Howdy Doody” comments. When people make overly positive comments, I call them “Howdy Doody” comments. You’ve seen them, “Gosh, this is really the best darn article ever!”. It’s a flag that your story is BS, even if it isn’t. Don’t try and fake the language of the more active community members either. ie, on Digg, “This sucks, you’re an evil SEO spammer!”. If you don’t agree with something, it’s a great opportunity to show your smarts, but do so succinctly. If the article doesn’t stand out, then don’t bother commenting.

These are all pretty basic, yet they persist. What kinds of blunders do you see as a participant of social news and bookmarking sites? How about as a marketer?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. It always amazes me when PR agencies use the words genuine and authentic in all their marketing, and yet don’t understand that drive by blog comments, “personal” e-mails to bloggers, and general low investment techniques not only don’t work, but leave a bad taste in people’s mouth.

  2. Avatar kelvin newman says

    I think a bad social media strategies can end up being worse than no plan at all.

  3. So, Lee, would you say that the social media press release was a dumb idea? Do social media press releases have any redeeming social value?

  4. Hey Greg, I think some folks in the PR world were trying to create their own weather by pushing the social media press release as a strategic tool rather than what it is, tactical.  I admit that, for a time, I was one of them.
    That said, there is functional value if you look at it as a mini press room and there are also SEO benefits.

    Bookmarking press releases (Del.icio.us, Furl) is practical and adding those options to a release makes sense. Adding social news submission links (Digg, Netscape) is what I was referring to above as social media suicide. Those communities tend to loathe the news release format of announcing news.

  5. Kelvin, I agree with you.

    It’s because social media is much broader than what most search marketers realize.

    Social communities online are not unlike social communities in the real world in that they have unique values, norms and ways of communicating.

    Being insensitive to the mores of a social news or networking community is what causes users and domains to be excluded from participating.

  6. Avatar kelvin newman says

    It’s Kelvin but I won’t take it personally!

    I think submitting press releases just shows a complete lack of understanding of the communities. Surely anyone who has ever used digg will know it isn’t the place for press releases!

    The problem is a few companies will be talked into thinking they have social media strategy when really its a lazy token effort that the PR firms must know is a waste of time.

  7. Oops! Sorry Kelvin. Fixed. 🙂

  8. InPage launched TV-styled ads for the internet last month. there is lots of social networking on this one

    Check out the InPage site: http://www.inpageads.com

  9. Thanks for the article Lee. I am constantly learning about social news promotions and found the point on press releases interesting. I can’t remember where but I know I have seen press release digging services around. Ahh, how everything grows… it is getting unbelievably hard to keep up.

  10. Thanks Lee for this article. But one of the things I would wager is that perhaps one should look at these social news sites as being dynamic rather than stactic. The people who hang around these sites come and go, just like any web 2.0 social site. You have a constant flux of people for whatever reason no longer posting and then the influx of new people who find the sites. So for the sake of a link that would get found by the major search engines or for the sake of anyone seeing the link, I think a press release would be worth it.

  11. #1 is a great point…its the coverage of the event that gets noticed. Nobody on these sites wants to read a boring Press Release. (PR’s have their place elsewhere)

    I’ve used the major SS’s for placement and noticed this as well – more responses come from the informal info exchanges.

    Once this happened on the popular sites, our positions in the SERP’s shot up.

  12. Trying to harness the power of social media seems like the wrong approach (from reading this and several new media blogs). Rather, it seems, one should share their excitement about their product, service, news… whatever with the world. If the focus is on sharing interesting or important news about a product/service which with you are familiar, I’d imagine the marketing will fall into line more easily.

    However, since I am a very beginner in this field, I was wondering if you had any suggested reading/info for an emarketer who’s interest is being perked by Web 2.0 and doesn’t want to make any major mistakes? Where to start…?

  13. Avatar kelvin newman says

    Zach, I wrote a piece over at my blog about companys that are really taking advantage of the opportunities of social media, I Called the ‘Social Media Marketing Mascotts” that you might find interesting


  14. Thanks very kindly, I will have a long look at this!

  15. that guy looks so confused

  16. For a marketer like me who grew up in the off-line world, it’s a scarry place trying t grapple with this social media stuff. This article helps keep me on the right path. Thanks.

  17. Most irritating (and self-defeating one) I’ve experienced is the insufferable practice of blanket spamming blogs that talk about your service or product with “one size fits all” press-releases.


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