How to build a social media voting circle

@Kevin | Strategy

One of the frequent questions I am asked is how to really get results on social news and bookmarking sites like Digg, Mixx, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious, and other sites like these. While the general consensus is to submit good content, participate, and help others out, that really doesn’t give people a road map on how to use these sites.

I am going to share with you a strategy on how to build a social media voting circle. To be frank about it this is basically what a lot of top social media people do and some would say that it is against the spirit of these social networks. But honestly that is a naive point of view. The best stories that make the front page of Digg all get there with some level of promotion. Either the person that submitted the story has a large network on Digg, the site is massively popular and will get votes no matter what, or the site has people giving their content a push. Whatever the case may be there is some level of promotion involved whether it is building a large Digg account, promoting a webpage, or building a social media base. Good stories don’t magically make the front page because the content is good.

Additionally I wanted to add that this can kind of give you an outline on how to use the system to your advantage. So even if you have crap content you can generate traffic. But the thing is if you have crap content your site and tactics are going to stick out like a sore thumb leading to your accounts and/or site getting banned by these services. Even if you survive you will see diminishing returns over a period of time because there won’t be people outside of your circle voting. If your content is a good the idea of this circle is to help give it a jump start where other people will see it and vote.

One final other note. This isn’t an outline on how to become a power digger. Honestly that is something I have never cared about becoming. If you want to do that you should really subscribe to the RSS feed of popular diggers, get on their radar by voting their stories consistently, and submit a lot of quality content before others do. (There is a lot more to it than that but I am not looking at writing a guide for that today but those are tips that people generally give out for becoming a power digger.)

General rules of social media voting:

1) Don’t submit your own content

2) For the most part votes only matter for the intitial 24 hour period they were submitted in (except for StumbleUpon)

3) Don’t leave lame comments like “funny” or “dugg” or “that was awesome”, make them either worthwhile or snarky

4) You have to build a network and remain active. This can’t be a one way street used only to promote content you want to promote you have to participate by sharing diverse content that isn’t yours.

How to build a network:

1) Sign up to all the IM services, use an IM client for your computer that blends them all into one. (Trillian for PC, Adium for Mac). I would recommend to keep your personal accounts and these split so you can sign on without getting vote requests all the time.

2) Sign up for all the major social bookmarking services: Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, Propeller, and Mixx.

3) Add the IM profiles and the social bookmarking services to your Digg profile.

4) Go through stories you like on digg and examine who voted for them. If they have IM information on their profile add it to your IM. Create two lists, one for people you have already talked to and others you haven’t.

5) Reach out to these people and ask if they want to share stories, don’t flat out say trading votes because it is looked down upon. After reaching out to these people move them from one group to the other.

6) Add Digg, Mixx, Reddit, Propeller, and Delicious bookmarklets or toolbars to your browser so it is easier to submit stories. Or get an all in one tool for Firefox, there are many out there.

7) Start submitting content other than your own to these sites as you come across stories people may find interesting. Push a few of these stories on occasion.

8) Vote on the requests that are sent to you unless you don’t feel comfortable about the story. If you feel someone is only promoting poor content remove them from your list or block them so you don’t ask for votes when you aren’t helping them out and so they can no longer contact you.  Send out requests to others and begin to build relationships with these users.

9) Once you have established relationships find people that will submit content from your site that you would liked pushed. Once it is submitted by one of your friends reach out to your IM your network and ask them to vote.

Tip: When sending out voting request vary the URL. Send them to the upcoming pages, the site, or other pages on the social media sites so it always isn’t the direct URL.

Every month or so people will cycle through your network. You need to regenerate it by adding more people so you will want to step four and five every few weeks.

The larger network you have the more you can diversify who is voting for your content. You don’t want to have the same people voting every single time for the stories you push. By having a large network you can also push stories at different times of the day.

A few other things you may want to do is to make sure that you place voting buttons on your content so your readers can vote on stories, make sure buttons are included on your RSS feed, and educate your readers about these services. You might have a large untapped group of people that will vote and submit your content. Additionally you may want to follow the #digg tag on Twitter and become active in voting for Digg requests on there. Once you start becoming involved and following the people using that tag you can share your own content and use the Digg tag as well.

I hope this is a good general overview that you can use and fine helpful. There are some intricacies that I didn’t cover on here but this is enough for you to get moving on using these sites and building a network.