Being a participant in social web requires that you create content, and certain kinds of content at that. Regardless of your industry, to create buzz you need to educate or entertain your target market, and well executed content will make people want to share it.
Improve the “Linkability” of your Content
Having “static” web pages, e.g. brochure-style or storefront pages, are definitely useful for product information. But to optimize a site for social media, we need to increase the frequency and linkability of the content. My favorite method is to add a more-personal blog that shows your personality and thoughtfulness about a particular topic area. Other types of content, like white papers or aggregated selected links to related articles, are also quite useful for potential readers. Remember, the idea is to create something valuable beyond your core product offering to keep potential customers coming back.
Enable Easier Bookmarking and Sharing
Once a reader thinks your content is worth sharing, make the process as easy as possible for them! Adding website features like ReTweet and ShareThis buttons are a great way to allow your users to spread your content via their preferred channels. I also like to make sure each page has concise meta tag data (Title, Description, etc), because it will be easier for places like Facebook to import and show pertinent information about your link. As mentioned before, make sure your content is valuable and interesting because buttons-alone cannot get people to share your work.
Encourage Inbound Links
Inbound links from other blogs and websites are crucial to enhancing your search optimization and overall rankings. Listing trackbacks with each article or post will entice users to link to your site in the hopes that you will reciprocate a link. However, be aware of trackbacks from unrelated, spammy blogs or sites that are merely republishing your content without permission. For these reasons, I like to approve trackbacks manually before allowing them to enter the comments.
Help Your Content Travel
Building multiple channels of distribution for content can be a very effective way to gain exposure and attract links. Use Email newsletters, RSS subscribers, Facebook status updates, Twitter updates, content syndication, video syndication with YouTube, etc can all improve your social reach. With the number of possible channels on the web increasing, you need to make sure to stay current with popular services in the industry
Encourage Video Sharing
Online video is a growing medium, and in my opinion a rich and effective channel for entertaining, informing, or just getting a message across. If you have the resources to create compelling video content, please give it a shot. Since distribution is VERY inexpensive, especially with YouTube and embedding capabilities, you can potential receive a high return on your efforts. Encourage and embrace others who republish your videos.
Participate in Conversations
Let’s say you have a decent social presence – your Facebook page has fans, your blog is receiving comments, people are contacting you through your site. Take the time to connect one-to-one with these active readers, they’re often your best customers! Foster dialog in whatever public forums you have, but also think about dropping a quick email or note in private to create a more personalized relationship. Show your true passion for the topic at hand. You just might be connecting with a top influencer or champion of your service.
Get to Know Your Audience
As long as you understand your subject matter and that community’s interests, you’ll be able to set yourself for successful social media connections. Don’t stray too far from your niche, leverage the latest tools and industry trends, and try to stay focused on content that will drive interest in your expertise.