How to use the icons at the bottom of your Web
By Rick Broida
You’ve seen their icons sprinkled all over blogs, news sites, and the Web
at large: Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit, Technorati, and other seemingly
made-up words. What the heck are these things, and why would you want to
click them? More importantly, why should you consider adding them to your
own site? Welcome to a different kind of social networking, a set of tools
and services you can use to promote yourself and, perhaps, connect with
potential colleagues and clients.
Enjoying the site you’re visiting or blog post you’re
reading? Might you even say you “dig” it? That’s the idea behind Digg, a
site that exists solely to recommend links and browse links others have
recommended. Think of it as a “best of the Web” clearinghouse. The more
“diggs” a link gets, the more likely it is to land on the Digg home page
(or the home page for a specific category), where it’s all but guaranteed
to get a huge amount of traffic (daily visitors number in the
To add a recommendation to the Digg pool, just click the little Digg icon
when you see it near something you like. No icon? You can go to Digg proper
and manually paste in a link. Either way, you’ll need to provide a brief
summary of the submission and choose an appropriate category. You’ll also
need to sign up for a Digg account (it’s free).
From a marketing standpoint, there’s not much value in recommending someone
else’s content. However, you can easily add one of those ubiquitous “Digg
This” buttons to your own site, thereby allowing others to recommend your
content. All you have to do is copy and paste a snippet of code into your
Web page or blog post. You can find the code and instructions at the Digg
Now for a reality check: Just because you add a Digg button to your blog
doesn’t mean you’ll attract thousands of new visitors overnight. Millions
of users submit millions of links to Digg every day, so getting any kind of
meaningful attention is almost like winning the lottery. But that’s not to
say you shouldn’t try.
One of the pioneering “social bookmarking” sites,
Del.icio.us offers users a way to share links of interest. However, it’s
also a bookmark-management service, one you can use to store your favorites
online instead of just on your computer. Why bother? Well, if you ever use
a computer that’s not your own, you’ll have quick and easy access to your
bookmarks: Just fire up the Web browser and sign into your Del.icio.us
What’s more, you can use Del.icio.us for one-click archiving of sites and
content you’ve discovered and want to save for future reference: Just click
the little Del.icio.us icon when you see it near a blog post or similar
item. Don’t see the icon? You can add a link manually via the Del.icio.us
site or, better yet, install a Del.icio.us “bookmarklet” in your Web
browser: One click sends you to the site so you can bookmark whatever page
you’re currently viewing. Find out more about using Del.icio.us on the
site’s help page.
You’ve no doubt heard of Facebook, if you haven’t
already signed up for an account. It’s the Web’s most popular
social-networking site, which is why you’ll frequently see little Facebook
icons attached to blog posts and the like. However, clicking one merely
allows you to share the associated content with your Facebook friends. But
you can’t choose the recipients from your list of friends; you have to
enter their names manually. Thus, the only real value in the Facebook
button is adding it to your own content in the hopes that others will share
it with their Facebook friends.
Reddit is best described as a poor man’s Digg, a site
designed to share and recommend Web content. (Reddit: “Read it.” Get it?)
It’s popular, but not nearly as trafficked as Digg. That said, if you’re
using the latter in the hopes of driving users to your site, you might as
well add a Reddit option. You can find Reddit buttons and instructions on
the site (reddit.com/buttons).
Yet another site built for sharing link love,
StumbleUpon takes a slightly more proactive approach: You tell the service
what interests you, and it serves up sites it thinks you might like. All
you do is install the free StumbleUpon toolbar (it’s available for both
Firefox and Internet Explorer), then click to add sites you like and/or
want to recommend to friends and/or the StumbleUpon community at large.
Meanwhile, you can click a button to be instantly transported to a site
that’s been flagged as one you’ll like. And be warned: The service is
really good at finding good stuff. Don’t be surprised if you spend an
inordinate amount of time “stumbling” around the Web.
Here’s Technorati in a nutshell: It’s a blog-specific
version of Digg and Reddit. And a somewhat confusing one at that. But it’s
a good place to see what other bloggers in your field are up to: just
search for “real estate.”
LinkedIn for the Uninitiated
If you hang your hat on just one social-networking site, make sure it’s
LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). Designed expressly for
professionals, the free service helps you meet others in your field,
stay connected to colleagues and clients, and promote yourself.
First, you need to create a profile—a kind of online resume that lists your
past and present job experience, education, affiliations, achievements,
and, perhaps most importantly, Web site. Don’t be modest: List even the
experiences and achievements that don’t pertain to real estate, as they
help present you as a well-rounded individual.
Once you’ve completed your profile, click the Add Connections button to
link yourself with others. You can add individuals by typing their names
and e-mail addresses, or let LinkedIn scan your AOL, Gmail, Windows Live
Mail, and Yahoo address books to find contacts who are already LinkedIn
members. There’s also an Outlook toolbar you can install; it lets you build
and manage your network via your contact list.
If you really want to leverage the service, check out renowned blogger Guy
Kawasaki’s post, “Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn” (http://tinyurl.com/2fbver). You’ll learn how to
increase your visibility, improve your Google PageRank, and more.
Rick Broida is a freelance writer and a contributor to numerous outlets
including Wired Magazine, CNET, Family PC, and Popular
Science; he also is the author of How to Do Everything with Your
Palm Powered Handheld, 6th Edition.