How major publishers are using social media to drive traffic - Part 2

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 25 June 2009

This is the second of a series of posts based on a talk I gave during May 2009 at WebCertain's "International Social Media Summit" in London. You can find the first part here, and view the original presentation slides on SlideShare.

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Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking icons have infected major publishers websites like some kind of Internet design plague. The vast majority of mainstream news sites and high profile blogs come equipped with a whole set of brightly coloured icons urging you to share this, Digg that, StumbleUpon the other and Buzz this up.

Social Media icons

And why have they all done it? Well, for one thing, nobody likes being the odd one out.

Spock points out the odd one out

These are ways of asking your user to express their positive opinion about your content to third-party services that rate content. The most popular amongst the mainstream English language press are Delicious, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Newsvine.

Another icon that you might see, especially on US publications is for Yahoo! Buzz. At the moment this is very focussed on US-centric content, but it is due to launch more internationally later this year.

Each of these services provide different ways for users to store, tag, rate and comment upon content.

Sharing icons on the Metro site

If you are targeting an international market, then you need to research the services that are popular in that area. A quick glance at European newspaper sharing icons will reveal a few icons more unfamiliar to Anglo-centric eyes.

European newspaper share panels

And of course, if you want to reach Lieutenant Arex, the three-legged Edosian on the bridge of the animated Starship Enterprise, then you'd need to to target the prominent social networks on the planet Edosia.

Lieutenant Arex on the animated USS Enterprise bridge

One icon to rule them all...

An alternative approach is to use a service like ShareThis or AddThis to provide one button that acts as a gateway into a whole host of services. This prevents a site looking like the 'odd one out' without social media links, but also reduces the amount of screen real estate the icons take up. It is the approach I prefer here on currybetdotnet, and one used by The Guardian where I work.

Share This

Next...

In the third part of this series of posts I'll be looking at how some major news publishers use social bookmarking to provide a feedback loop on their own site.

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