Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Using Web 2.0 Content Sites to Expand Your Platform

The term "Web 2.0" refers to the increasing trend for interactivity on websites as opposed to the static information pages of past years. This ranges from high content, lower social engagement of sites like Wikipedia to high social networking, lower content sites like Facebook. Blogging sits somewhere in the middle with (hopefully) interesting and/or useful content together with engagement from commenters. Some of the most successful blogs are those where the comments sections are read as avidly as the blog entries they debate.

Content sites like Squidoo, HubPages, and Google Knol have sprung up over the past few years to fill a gap between blogs and static websites. Blogs are periodical by nature; content is "lost" as fresh content replaces it. Content sites offer a single concentrated page focusing on one topic together with the interactivity of guestbooks, polls, ratings, and networking with other members on the sites' fora. Twitter, on the other hand, is a micro-content interactive site that scrolls quicker than a blog. It can be useful as a notice board to point your followers to new content, provide quick reminders of book tours, and ask and answer brief questions.

While you could, and should, take a similar interactivity approach where appropriate on your own website, if you have one, the real value of using content sites is in creating backlinks for your website and/or blog and in increasing the impact of your platform by reaching multiple audiences.

Which content site should you use?

You can use all of them. Or you can try each site out and find those sites that suit your needs and your style the best.

Below are two analyses run through Alexa. Alexa takes statistics from Internet users who have an Alexa toolbar running on their Internet Browser and who then visit the sites in question. These are probably not highly reliable data samples, but they give a nice snapshot comparison of similar sites. Unfortunately comparison with Google Knol is not available separate from Google as a whole, which, as a Search Engine rather than a content site, would skew the graph too much. Instead I've used Ezine Articles as a benchmark content site even though it is not really an interactive site. This should give you an idea of how HubPages and Squidoo are growing. As you can see HubPages seems to have a steadier growth and performs slightly better than Squidoo as a whole. However, as the second graph shows, Wikipedia and Amazon are still the sites on which you want to appear.

Up next: Brainstorming ideas for filling these Web 2.0 sites with great content.
Previously: Building an Online Platform to Promote Your Books

Have you tried any of these Web 2.0 sites? Did it help with your book promotion? We'd love to hear about your experiences.

Elsa Neal Elsa Neal was one of the early adopters of Squidoo after it came out of Beta and has been actively involved in the community as a Squid Angel and a Top 100 Giant Squid. She has more recently been experimenting with HubPages. She can also be found on her own website or sharing her writing insights at her Fictional Life Blog.

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  1. I use Twitter to just say "hi," to promote my blog, website and newsletter, and to promote other blogs. I can't say if it draws people to other blogs that I mention and link to. And I can't give statistics for my content, but I do believe it's drawn commenters to my blog and a few people to sign up for my free newsletter. I know I should be gathering stats, but I'm not since it's not a priority for me.

    Straight From Hel

  2. Twitter brought a twitter "friend" to a presentation I was giving at the library--he and his wife drove for an hour and a half to come hear me. So I'd say Twitter works.


  3. I, too, have had some success using Twitter and Facebook to bring visitors to my blog and Web sites. And we know Tweets help bring people here, too. So I agree that being active on the Internet is a good marketing tool. Now if I just understood even a quarter of how it all works. :-)

  4. Twitter can be very effective but I think people who follow many others will miss quite a bit of the updates unless they spend most of the day keeping up with them. It's probably obvious, but if you're announcing something important don't make Twitter your only location.

    Marilyn, that's a great story! I hope he bought a book too.

  5. I use twitter and find more authors, more blogs to follow, more people on textnovel, etc there. But I don't feel like I'm a particularly good user yet. Still learning the ropes.

  6. Sheila, I've been reading TwiTip recently to try and learn how to use Twitter "properly":


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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