Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d have seen news reports that marketing guru Seth Godin‘s Squidoo social networking site has been Google slapped in recent weeks. My friend, black hat marketer Howie Schwartz, interviewed Seth and in the process elicited a number of nuggets for social marketers from the Internet Marketing community.
In recent weeks, there’s been news coverage from the likes of TechCrunch that some Squidoo pages have seen as much as a 75% drop in traffic, due to lower rankings in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The reason? A number of marketers have been using Squidoo lenses as a parasite host for hosting pages for spam marketing purposes. [The Squidoo team lists their anti-spam measures]
With the drop in Google’s SERP positions, a number of marketers have since moved their pages over to Hub Pages (PR6, Alexa 3,220)
But does adopting a “nomadic” approach of shifting to another authority site solve the puzzle of generating a continual stream of traffic?
It seems more like a “slash and burn” forest clearing measure. You forage in an area, turn it into a wasteland, shift to the next plot – slash the trees, burn it to the ground – and move on.
Sure, there are a lot of “forests” on the Internet, but if we were to take the “Live Earth” idea of a sustainable, long-term and long-tail approach to Internet Marketing, wouldn’t it be better to master the dynamics of social networking and build a brand AND a business from there?
Howie’s interview with Seth provided a number of insights. If you’ve read Seth’s works like Permission Marketing, Purple Cow, the Idea Virus and All Marketers are Liars, the interview will reasonate with you and you’ll see the principles put into action.
Ã‚Â Master Marketer Seth Godin
If you’re not familiar with Permission Marketing, Seth provides a good illustration of the evolution of marketing from disruptive to a permission-based model:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Marketing has become a consensual process. In other words, you can’t yell at people (on TV, on the radio, on the web) and hope that you can earn enough to yell more. As a result, the most successful marketers are the ones who have a product that people are eager to use and talk about (think iPhone). This is great news for people who have useful information to sell, because human beings are drawn to insight and knowledge and things that help them succeed.
Like Seer Interactive’s Wil Reynolds had mentioned at Affiliate Summit East, building a site optimized for humans, rather than search engines will bring you the biggest returns.
You may detect a bias towards “content development” and “content sites” in recent posts, but that’s only because “content IS king”.
As Seth skillfully illustrates:
Like the booth at the carnival that has a great barker outside bringing people in, but not much in the tent, at least as far as I can tell.
So SERP rankings can bring you so far, but you’d need something substantial inside your tent/website/blog to keep the audiences there.
When that happens, “people flock. They tell their friends. They engage. They give permission. It works.”
Ah, the essence of social marketing/social traffic generation succinctly summarized in 13 words.
The root of Squidoo (which I see as an embodiment of Seth’s word-of-mouth marketing principles) “we give anyone an easy-to-use platform where you can help people understand your little part of the world. A page where you can include links and content and pointers and a bit of community to help people figure out what’s going on.”
How to get the most out of Squidoo?
Build yourself as an authority, the “go to” gal or guy for your niche subject.
If you are building great pointers to great stuff and profiting by being an expert, by engaging people as they look for something to help them, we need you and will continue to work to help you.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The nucleus of “social marketing”? It lies in:
“What Squidoo does when it does things well: it gives people meaning. Squidoo is not some sort of amplifier where you can place a paragraph or two of text and maybe a banner and get some juice.
A great Squidoo lens is a hand-built piece of insight into a given topic. You list your offering, perhaps your competitors. You point to pictures or videos that teach people about what you do. Include links to customers who are also giving testimonials.”
Implicit in Seth’s statements is the idea of creation value for your readers, and more broadly, your community.
Destroy that value by scraping keywords devoid of any context, or by overly being sales-focused, without being information-focused and you risk alienating your very customers and relegating yourself into a pitch-fest freak.
In case you’re wondering about the duality/dichotomy which seems present in the marketing world, between white hats and black hats (and sometimes gray hats), Seth spells it out very clearly:
There are only two kinds of marketers:
- Marketers who spend all day trying to do more and give more to their customers.
- And marketers who try to do less and charge for the rest.
How would you achieve victory in this war of opposing marketing paradigms?
Seth’s belief is: use your lenses to be the expert and to give it all away. The more you give away, the better you’ll do.
The bottom line in social marketing for me has been in line with eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s mantra “Do No Evil”.
Seth has more nuggets of social marketing information and you can check out the full text of Howie’s interview at: