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Social news sites beckon communications pros

Photo courtesty spudballoo via Flickr

Photo courtesty spudballoo via Flickr

With all the talk lately about Twitter’s growth and the land grab for Facebook URLs, an important conversation channel for PR and marketing professionals may be getting overlooked: social bookmarking and news sharing sites. These sites, where users share interesting articles, photos and videos they find on the Web, offer great opportunities for outreach for those willing to participate organically by submitting their blog posts and news releases as part of a larger mix of compelling content. We’ve discussed the importance of engaging that way before, and can’t stress it enough.

The most popular of the social news sites, Digg, Mixx, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Diigo and Newsvine, to name a few, are at once driving traffic to news media sites and competing with them for the attention of online audiences. These sites serve as destinations where people can find news content submitted by others and click through to it, bringing new visitors to news organizations’ online offerings. Minonline.com recently discussed the power of social news sites to drive traffic with Joel Newman, interactive advertising operations coordinator for the Smithsonian Digital Network. “We’ve had a couple of days, in fact, where over half of our visitors were referred by social bookmarking sites,” Newman says. The network’s audience increased 86 percent in the year to March 2009, in part because of referrals from social news sites. The network includes SmithsonianMag.com, AirSpaceMag.com, goSmithsonian and SmithsonianChannel.com.

Each of the social news sites has its own strengths. Digg handles multimedia content smoothly; Delicious and Diigo have great tagging systems for organizing articles for personal reference; StumbleUpon offers a toolbar for bookmarking sites with a single click; and Mixx has a strong variety of topic-based channels. As with anything else, where you focus your efforts will depend on your goals, and where you find communities with relevant interests. What opportunities do you see for sharing news with your community on these sites?

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