BitDepth 677 - April 28

Building a presence in Web 2.0: Making use of social networks and related tools
Social mixing for success

Beyond Facebook and MySpace is an authoritative network of special interest blogs that speak directly to their audiences. Trinidad Carnival Diary is an authoritative voice for the masquerader planning to play pretty mas. The Woodshed is visited regularly by local jazz enthusiasts and artistes.

Participating in social networks can leverage your web presence and brand profile, depending on your goals, but depending on them as your whole strategy can be a mistake.
Facebook and its kin offer an environment in which millions of people can share information, but they achieve that goal by enforcing rules and systems for presenting that information. 
If you want a space that's designed your way, tailored to your content that reinforces the message you want to present, then you need your own home page, a customised Internet base of operations.

When you control your own web space there are no limits on what you can do. Your images don't have to fit into Facebook's 800 pixel limitations or suffer Flickr's sometimes arbitrary compression schemes. You can tweet a link to a blog entry on your page instead of trying to cram everything you want to say into 140 characters.
Instead of spreading your content and message across several social media networks that barely speak to each other, consider creating a your own nexus that threads your streams into all the networks you want to participate in.
Now let's be clear about this. You can't build a website full of marketing and pretty Flash graphics and then drop links to it like um, droppings, throughout social networks. That's spamming and it will get you unfriended, unfollowed and swiftly branded a web pariah in a matter of days if not hours. 
If you are committed to delivering authentic content that brings understanding and entertainment to your visitors, the dividends can be enormous.

Content is king
Now, I'll confess that I have something of an unfair advantage here. My business is creating content, and my challenge isn't finding something to put on the web, it's editing and deciding how to present it while balancing protection with free access. Along the way, I hope to let people know what I do and more usefully, what I might be able to do for them.
Protect it? Yes, that's the price of putting useful content on a website. If it's really good, you won't just get linkbacks (people linking to your content from their websites) or mentions in tweets and e-mails, you'll also get content scrapers, people who reproduce your work on their websites, sometimes wholesale.

Because I pay close attention to my web stats, I usually find these links fairly quickly and take the time to see what's been posted. In some cases, photos, chunks of text and even entire columns have been copied and pasted into other people's websites. Your first reaction might be to object, but these incidents can be an asset.
In every instance where I've found my work being referenced, I've asked politely for a linkback when it wasn't given and been consistently pleased by the response of the posters, who have sometimes gone out of their way to take note of my work.
Linkbacks are the ultimate currency of attention on the web and web advertising is really just buying linkbacks in locations that are relevant to you. Free linkbacks aren't just cheaper, they are real endorsement and practiced users know it.

Respect my authority
And then, there are the folks I call attractors, people who command an uncommon authority on the web in a specific area of expertise. These folks can be a blessing or a curse for you. These are the new filters of the web, the Internet's subject matter experts who command the attention of hundreds of slices of information focus.
Take Saucy Diva (if you're a Carnival bandleader, you'll probably add - please). The Diva is the anonymous author of a highly focused blog at Saucy is the final word on pretty mas bands, a hugely entertaining source of gossip, advice and general bacchanalia on the subject. In 2008, a two sentence note from the Diva generated six times as many web hits for my Carnival project as a link posted on the same day on the Guardian's website.

When I launched the web page for my coverage of Tribe's production process this year, I sent her a note about it and she kindly posted notice of the new work, driving just under 2,000 visitors to the site over the next week. 
Will Saucy post a press release? Not unless you think it through carefully and offer something her audience is interested in. She doesn't need you and if you don't understand what the site is about; she won't care. Nor will any other attractor.
The social web is bigger than social networks like Facebook. If you can deliver content that draws the attention of bloggers and link aggregators in your line of business that delivers linkbacks to your site, then you're on your way.

Some social network stats
There are 180,000 Facebook users who describe themselves as Trinidadian.
On the WeFollow service for Twitter users, 7,366 users use the Trinidad tag.

BitDepth 678 -
Putting rubber on the road
BitDepth 676 -
Who's out there?
BitDepth 675 -
Starting the web conversation
BitDepth 674 -
The Attention Deficit
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