Using Social Media to Find Quality Information

There are plenty of articles, including some of my own, that focus on techniques for drawing traffic from social media websites like Digg, StumbleUpon and del.icio.us, but there is very little written about using these social media sites to find quality information.

The point may seem illogical since social media sites supposedly show the best, or at least the most popular content, on the front page. However, finding the right content that you can benefit from, the hidden gems, requires more than just visiting the front page to see what is popular at the moment.

Social media sites are a great place to find content on a wide variety of sources, but you’ll get the most out of your efforts if you have a plan.

Keys to Finding Quality Content with StumbleUpon

1 – Choose your interests wisely. Many other StumbleUpon users will come across your profile when you Stumble pages, and some may even seek you out. When others see your profile they will also see interests that they have in common with you. Having common interests is a great way to encourage others to add you as a friend. Your interests also determine what types of content you see when you are Stumbling, so if you don’t choose them wisely you are not likely to find what you like.

2 – Choose friends that have common interests. Your friends will partially determine what content you see. Find friends that have common interests so that you are likely to appreciate the content that they send your way.

3 – Choose friends that are active. When looking at a users profile you can see what they have given the thumbs up to, and when they did it. Find users that have been active frequently so that you will benefit from their recommendations.

4 – See who has stumbled pages that you like. One way of finding friends with similar interests is to pick a specific page or blog post that you like and see who else has given it a thumbs up. To do this go to http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/ and enter the URL of the page at the end of the address, directly after url/. For example, to see who has Stumbled my blog front page, go to http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/www.vandelaydesign.com/blog/.


5 – Check the Buzz section. With the StumbleUpon toolbar so easy to use as you’re surfing, users can easily overlook the fact that it lists the tops submissions similar to Digg and other social media sites. From the StumbleUpon homepage click on “websites” and here you’ll see what’s currently popular. Use the tag cloud on the right to find content on particular topics.

6 – Share recommendations with your friends. If you want to actively find the best content on StumbleUpon, share what you like with your friends and they’ll be more likely to share great content with you as well. Stumble Upon allows you to easily share content that you like with your friends, Maki provides a good explanation of how to do this in a recent article.

Keys to Finding Quality Content with Del.icio.us

1 – Add the right people to your network. Others in your network can be very beneficial if you’re interested in using del.icio.us to find great content. When you add someone to your network you’ll be able to see their bookmarks (unless they have them set to be private). When you login you can click on “your network” and you’ll see the recent bookmarks of people who you have added to your network. Find users that actively bookmark pages that you like and you’ll always have great content waiting for you in your network’s bookmarks.

2 – Check frequently to see your network’s activity. If you build a large network of active users you’ll need to check their bookmarks regularly to see what is being added.

3 – Use tags to browse for related content. When you’re looking through the bookmarks from your network and you find something on a topic that peaks your interest, click on one of the tags to see more related bookmarks from that user.

4 – Encourage others to join your network. Another way to find users with similar interests is to offer your visitors the option to be a part of your network. You can see on my sidebar that I have a del.icio.us badge that encourages readers to become part of my network (You can get this badge at http://del.icio.us/help/networkbadges). Once other users add you to their network you can see what types of content they bookmark and add them to your network as well.

Keys to Finding Quality Content with Digg

1 – Choose friends who have similar interests, not just someone who got a story to the front page. With Digg there is always so much emphasis on friends that many users overlook the fact that having friends is useless if they don’t like the same types of content as you. Stories submitted by your friends, as well as those dugg by your friends, can be a great source of new information. But if you friends list is watered down with users who share nothing in common with you, these methods are ineffective.

2 – Don’t add people who only digg there own submissions. You’ll probably run across these people pretty frequently, and they’re obviously only using Digg for their own interests. They’re unlikely to ever do anything that will benefit you and they’re unlikely to remain active because they probably won’t get anywhere with this approach.

3 – Set your homepage for a specific topic. In your settings under “customize topic” you can set a specific topic to show on your homepage. This way when you visit Digg you’ll only be seeing content that belongs to your topic of interest.

4 – Subscribe to the popular feed from a category. You can subscribe by RSS to be notified when new items become popular in a specific category. I am subscribed to the “programming” subcategory of “technology” and now I receive a message in my feed reader whenever something becomes popular in programming.

I hope these tips have given you some good ideas for using social media to find great content in addition to just driving traffic to your own site. If you have any other tips that you would like to add, please leave a comment.

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13 Responses

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  • pelf, September 26, 2007

    I am still not very familiar with the SU interface which I think isn’t very user-friendly (or is it just me?!). But I am having fun with del.icio.us.

    In fact, I find it easier to look for quality content in del.icio.us than in SU despite having similar networks of friends because in SU, many people just stumble, give thumbs up, stumble, give thumbs up, (repeat cycle). I find that people who stumble aren’t likely to leave a comment. They’re just interested in the traffic, that’s all.

    Just my 2 cents though.

  • webgeekgirl, September 26, 2007

    Regarding SU, I don’t choose friends who thumb up frequently but those who *review* frequently. I keep an eye on my SU home to see what my friends are reading. So if they don’t bother to review anything then I find it less useful even if they are active stumblers. Also, as with Digg, ppl who only ever review their own content – that really isn’t the way to make friends. At the same time you have to be careful not to ignore everyone who has made very few reviews. They may just be newbies, so I also check when they signed up.

  • Kevin, September 26, 2007

    I’ve already setup the StumbleUpon, Del.icio.us and Digg in my Mozilla Firefox. But I just simply stumble, tag and digg. I never realize there are some other ways to find ‘Quality informations’.. Thanks for your information here. I would have a try.

  • Second Life Man, September 26, 2007

    Thank you for the helpful tips. I will be using these techniques to increase my online mojo.

  • Michael from Pro Blog Design, September 26, 2007

    I should start being a little more proactive in these networks. I’ve used Digg for months now, every day, but all I ever do is flick through a few pages of the front page, then scan the upcoming ones in the design category. Not really leveraging the “friend” side of it yet… xD

    Delicious I use for saving content, not finding it though. SU is the best for finding great links in a certain topic I think. I really like it. :D

  • Vandelay Design, September 26, 2007

    Pelf,
    I think the SU interface takes a little bit of time to learn where you can find different things. For me part of the problem is that I don’t use the interface as much as I use the toolbar, so some things I didn’t even know were there.

    webgeekgirl,
    You have a good point. Users who leave reviews are probably better people to have as friends. I still find some good content just by looking at what people have thumb’d up though.

    Kevin,
    I think you’ll find that the more you get involved with these sites the more you will get out of it.

    Second Life Man,
    Good luck with that online mojo.

    Michael,
    I’m with you, I use del.icio.us primarily to save content. I’ve found that it can also be a great way to find new things as well.

  • Karen Zara, September 26, 2007

    It had never occurred to me that I could check SU’s buzz section to find more stuff. Well, everyday I learn something new about SU. The site itself isn’t the most user-friendly ever. They just let their members take care of themselves, omitting important and helpful info most times.

    I like del.icio.us. Actually, I find it better (and funnier) than SU. I just don’t know how to build a network there. I could follow your example and put up a del.icio.us badge on my blog, but then again I don’t think I’d be added by anyone, as my blog’s reader base is so scarce.

    I’m not the greatest Digg fan. I find diggers too rude, therefore I mostly avoid that site.

  • Vandelay Design, September 26, 2007

    Karen,
    Thanks for your feedback. It sounds like everyone finds SU’s interface kind of unfriendly. With del.icio.us you can also find other users who bookmark the same things you do and add them to your network. Some of them will notice you and add you to their network. I’m not a huge Digg fan either. I use it but I’m certainly not a power user. You’re right about the rudeness. The only time I ever had anything get popular with Digg it got well over 1,000 diggs but almost all of the comments were saying that the blog post was the worst thing they’d ever seen.

  • Katrineholm Review, October 3, 2007

    The thing about Digg.com is one has to filter out the noise. Just ignore “the unintelligently disruptives” on Digg.com

  • rbl, October 3, 2007

    stumble is great for finding content

  • Sharm, October 3, 2007

    Yeah… I’ve found out so many interesting sites.. Actually parents always worry that online will affect our studies.. But for me, I feel that it widen my knowledge….It depends on how we use it.. :)

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