Disagreeing with Danny on the value of Social Media Sites

Filed in Social Media by Matt McGee on January 24, 2007 9 Comments

Today on Search Engine Land, Danny made what I think is a pretty bold statement about the value of optimizing/using social media sites as marketing tools:

…over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself more and more thinking that if you want to go beyond Google as a search marketer, the other search engines that matter first are the “social media search engines.” After them come the other major general purpose search engines like Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask.

Reaction: Not for most small businesses. No way. No how.

I could never imagine telling a local insurance agency client, or an independent car dealership, or the bike shop down the street, that we’re going to focus more on the likes of Digg and StumbleUpon (a site I really like!) than we are on Yahoo and MSN’s Live.com. Why? Because the audiences that use sites like Digg or Reddit are 1) too small, and 2) not representative of the population as a whole.

Are there some small businesses that would do well to focus on the Diggs of the world? You bet! If the nerd/geek audience is your customer base, Digg would be a great place to get exposure and links (even if the traffic is bursty and not always long-lasting). I can think of a local custom car “hot rod” shop that would do well to put some tricked-out car photos (with an attractive, scantily-clad female nearby, if possible) into a a gallery and get that page onto Digg.

But that’s not for everyone. So, I’m disagreeing with Danny on this. It’s far too much of a generalization to say social media optimization is more important than Yahoo, Live.com, etc. Search marketing, like any form of marketing, is about getting seen and heard by your target audience. And if they’re not using the Diggs of the world, putting those sites ahead of Yahoo and Live.com would be a big mistake.

Agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?

[tags]social media, seo, sem, digg, stumbleupon, danny sullivan[/tags]

Comments (9)

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  1. Matt – I have to agree with you on this one. It would be a stretch for many small business to focus on the social media sites before one of the other major search engines. Unless, of course, their target market is made up of heavy Digg users. Five years from now that could all change??

  2. Chuck Fuller says:

    Agreed under the current circumstances, way too broad a generalization. Especially since small businesses are necessarily niche in many cases, which contributes to making Yahoo and Live easy choices ahead of social media out of the gate.

  3. Nicolette says:

    I’m with you on this one too, Matt. My clients are B2B small to midsize industrial companies. They’ve never had to market themselves and think the Internet is a necessary evil. Add social media to the mix and there is a complete disconnect. I think this is definitely a “generation gap” but as the industrial workforce retires, and their sons and daughters (the Tech Generation) take over, this will change. My projection is 5 years also.

  4. Social media is not one size fits all, so yes there are a lot of small business that would not benefit from it. Also, there is more to social media than just Digg. What about all the niche social sites that are same topic as your client’s business? Those would probably be great spots to start. What about social local sites like Yelp, are your getting your customers on those sites?

    Bottom line is that social media does not work for everything/everyone. I do think Danny was right though. He never said it works for everyone and I doubt he was implying it works for mom & pop size businesses.

  5. Matt McGee says:

    It’ll be interesting to see what Digg and the social media sites look like in 5 years, won’t it Patrick & Nicolette? Heck, it’ll be interesting to see what Google and Yahoo and Live look like then, too.

    Cameron – I realize it’s not just about Digg, but for better or worse, they’re the poster child at this point, right? We all know Danny’s tremendously intelligent and perhaps he didn’t mean to paint with such broad strokes. But whether he meant to or not, he did. I’m just saying that every marketer has to know where his/her target market is and go there — and for most businesses, that’s not going to be on Digg, Reddit, Newsvine, etc. Not yet.

    And FWIW, I’m a big fan of Yelp and recommend small businesses use it. When I speak at SES, I have a section of my Small Biz presentation that talks about how small biz can use Flickr and other “participation marketing” sites/tactics. But I wouldn’t suggest they market there before SEOing for Yahoo, etc.

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