Lee Odden

Is Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Passive or Active?

When talking with so many companies of all sizes and types about marketing with social media, many are keen on the idea, but don’t have a clear idea of the best way to incorporate tactics like social bookmarking into their content promotions.  Anyone can throw up links to Digg, Del.icio.us and Facebook, but does it actually do anything?

The way I see it, two of the most practical ways to approach promoting content via social media sites such as social bookmarking and news would best be characterized as “active” and “passive”. In fact, there are many situations where both make sense.

The kind of promotion I mean is on social news or bookmarking service wheres you can submit a URL, describe and tag it, then others in the community can comment and/or vote.

An “active” approach would be appropriate for situations where a web site does not continually create “promotable content”, ie content that provides unique value and is amenable to being saved or passed on to others. Active social bookmarking would involve a strategy of creating such content for the purpose of promoting it on social news, bookmark and networking sites that allow URLs to be shared.

Of course the content will never succeed if it does not satisfy users. Creating a top ten list of has been suggestions will never fly.

Community involvement is a necessity with an active approach, especially through building up of a profile(s), growing a friends list and interacting/contributing via editorial, content submissions, commenting and voting.

Passive” would be a strategy for organizations with abundant content, such as online publications, sites with original product reviews, blogs, news, how to resources and certain types of user generated content. When there is a significant amount of promotable content, then the passive approach is to discover the best bookmarking and news communities for the kind of content being published and optimize the content management system templates to display “bookmark this” or “share this” invitation links.

These sorts of links are common now on major newspaper web sites like the Wall Street Journal blogs (economics blog) and on information rich consumer product sites like HP’s (digital photography) site.  When a popular site contains abundant promotable content, then those tens of thousands or millions of visitors are exposed to some very valuable win win options for interacting with the site’s content.

Readers are given an easy way to bookmark content to be revisited later or to share it with friends on a social network. At the same time, the web site has a community of enthusiasts generating links 24/7.

Of course, there are special promotions or stories from such content rich sites that are worth promoting, so it would make sense to engage in outreach via blogger relations, microblog platform announcements (Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku) as well as leveraging the  networks of friends on the respective social media platforms who share interest in the story topic.

Most of the social media promotions we’re involved with use both active and passive social media content promotion. For those companies that want to experiment, a passive approach using social bookmarking buttons on web pages or blog posts can give an idea of how the readership will interact.

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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. BTW, if you’re in New York reading this, then get on down to the Metropolitan Pavilion at 123 West 18th Street and get yourself registered for SMX Social Media.

  2. Im having enough success using Social Networking sites that I though I would comment. Most of these sites have a Blog or some way for you to leave comments.
    I use these in one major way. Posting my articles I write to promote my business. Most of these sites users consists of the younger generation. They are not interested in being approached to purchase a product. I write my articles with a humorous twist, so I think thats why Im enjoying a influx of visitors and even some purchases.
    Granted there are alot of these sites out there, and I should remind you all of one important item. Do not try in any way to repeatedly push your products or yourself on anyone. These sites are monitored very closely for Pedies and other unsavory characters.. I spend time looking for friends my age and in my niche. I join their groups and maintain a presense. I also do not use my business Bio at these sites. I used a toned down, more personal one.
    Lastly, do not reply to proposed contacts to get together or communicate in a different area such as a phone. These are Phishing attempts.
    One last comment, I think these sites are great. The Internet was invented for the sharing of info.

  3. Avatar John Nelson says

    I think that throwing up links at sites like Digg and Del.icio.us might make an impact if they were more niche oriented. Instead, your link gets lost in an ocean. I believe that as more niche sites pop up they’ll be more effective for everyone involved.

    For example, I just stumbled across a new site called BizSugar.com that only focuses on small businesses, which is my target market. According to their site they haven’t even officially launched yet, but I hope more sites like this get started.


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