As social media moves beyond early adapters to become more mainstream, Marketers are beginning to realize the tremendous opportunities in SMM.

Marketers need to start allocating budget over but to do so requires more reason than just intuitively knowing that its the right thing to do. Unfortunately marketers are currently ill equipped to sell social media internally to their stakeholders.

Part of our role as Social Media Marketers is to explain social media to our clients so that they can in turn sell it internally to their stakeholders. When I talk about social media with a client, I break it down into easily understandable pieces. In essence, a formula.

Awesome Content + Right Vehicle + Network of Users = Thousands of Visits

Find your awesome content
Awesome content falls into three different types of social media content.

  • Sensational content like Jerry Springer type stories
  • News related content that usually fits into a particular niche i.e. Science, Technology or Politics.
  • Resource type content. This is stuff that people will want to bookmark in case they need to review it later.

Quality content alone isnt enough.

Like good PR, the SMM headline must be written to grab attention. As good as your content is, your headline must be compelling enough to cut through the clutter of thousands of other submissions. Add to that the fact that most people dont read they scan.

But you cant bait and switch. As tempting as it is to write a catchy headline, if the content doesnt live up to the headline it will get buried. FAST!!!

+ Use the Right Vehicle
There are thousands of social media sites (maybe millions) and that number is growing every day. Many of them are quite niche i.e. There are many Social Sites in the environmental or music categories.

Each Social Media Site has its own demographic. Its critical that you get a good fit between the demographic for your content and the social media site. Geography is important too. I.e. if you are looking for US traffic around the recent landing on Mars, then Bebo would be a poor choice as its heavily music related & much more UK.

The social media site has to fit the content too. For example, Stumbleupon can send tons of traffic to a site but the Page has to be capable of standing alone. If the content cant stand alone (without the benefit of cues from the rest of the site) then the visitor will be confused and the submission will soon be buried.

+ Network of Power Users
Being plugged into a good network of users who are going to support you is critical.

To build a Power Profile on Tier I social media like Digg is a generally a full time job for EACH social media property. It is tremendously time consuming and is much less costly when outsourced.

Network. This is also critical. Part of the algorithm is that you cannot have one person who repeatedly submits content from your site. This is an unnatural pattern. This is another reason why its important to have tight relations with other Power Profiles who will submit content on your behalf.

= thousands of visits
If your content does well on the Big Three (Digg, Stumbleupon and Reddit), you can expect these sites to drive anywhere from 10K visitors for a lukewarm hot to 70K+ for Sidebar hot on Digg.

While Digg and Reddit tend to drive onetime spikes in traffic, Stumbleupon is not a one and done phenomenon. Really good content can have a comeback and go through an entirely new wave of stumbles. Stumble will only ever show you a website once so these are all brand new visitors

So what?

Being able to sell social media to your clients is a good start. But whats even more important than that, is to be able to explain social media so that your clients can in turn sell it internally.

Its only once stakeholders understand how social media works, that the budgets will follow.