So back in March, Radio Drama Revival saw something like quadruple the average number of visitors to the site. With a bit of a quizzical “What gives?” I dug deeper into the stats, and saw that nearly all of the traffic spike was the result of StumbleUpon. Woohoo! I must’a got stumbed!
Now, at work, I deal with StumbleUpon and many other social networks all the time, but like the mechanic who runs an old jaloppie, I really haven’t made a concerted effort at promoting this site through the web 2.0 world, though I suspect the potential for growth here, even for an offbeat niche like audio drama, is huge (Roger Gregg’s use of YouTube comes to mind, but I think I’ll focus on YouTube another time).
So, in the hopes that all of you out there will expand beyond where I idle, here’s my tips on how to use social networking to promote your blog, podcast, and the art form in general.
Social Networks — What they are and how they work
Alright, I don’t want to start too basic here, but if you’ve never here of StumbleUpon, del.icio.us or Digg, here’s the deal — these sites enable you not only to pick out something that you find cool, but to share that with others. Whereas MySpace and Facebook are all about YOU, these networks are more about what you’re interested in and find useful.
del.icio.us, for example, is a shared bookmarking service — you sign up for the service, download a light-weight browser plugin, and bookmark sites you like for later reference, tagging them with useful things like “audio drama article writing radio theater” for example.
That bookmark is now public, though the chances of other people finding it are a tad slim, unless it’s an article that others have also bookmarked — and if enough people bookmark an article, it gets moved to the ‘popular’ section, where the top articles are bound to see heavy traffic.
StumbleUpon, in contrast, is sort of like channel-surfing for the web. Again, you download a plugin, and then you can start stumbling. Basically you bookmark a page and see if it’s ever been found before, if not, it goes into the network. The fun part is when you go into “Stumble” mode, where you go to a random webpage based on your preferences and the ratings of other users. So, for instance, if a lot of people who found RDR back on that fateful March day chose to give the site a thumbs up, it’s more likely that other users will stumble here later!
I won’t get into Digg too much, because it can be a brutal site, but it’s basically a news site where people choose the news and vote on whether it’s worth reading — e.g. do you “digg” it? The drawback with this site is that it takes an ENORMOUS amount of diggs before you’ll get anywhere where that many people will notice you, though the benefits are so powerful that talented search marketing people are fighting constantly with “legitimate” stories to get the next digged thing up on the front page. There are undoubtedly spin-off sites that would be helpful for the audio drama world, but those shall be another article…
Training Yourself in Social Habits
So now that you’ve got all these plugins installed, you need to figure out how to use them. After all, the first rule of this whole thing is that in order to derive any value out of them, you’ll need to first contribute to them.
So start stumbling, and gives thumbs ups to pages that you find really funny, cool, and interesting. The same for del.icio.us. Why not go and digg all your favorite podcasts — there is a podcast area to digg which is ripe for some audio drama additions!
You’ll quickly establish yourself as a keen member of the audio drama community, and when you tag YOUR work, you have the credibility of being a living actual person with tastes, not just a spammy account set up to try and inflate your ratings and site traffic.
And hey, not to toot my own horn, but there are convenient digg, stumble, and del.icio.us links at the bottom of this and every Radio Drama Revival posts
So Why Bother Do All This?
What’s fascinating about these social networks is that they hook into a really huge internet-savvy audience, most of whom I guarantee you have never heard of radio drama beyond “War of the Worlds.” And while the audio arts have pretty slack visibility on these networks now, what’s to prevent all of us from bringing our community to the forefront?
It’s hard to know how many people go from “Stumble” to “Subscriber,” but every new set of ears, even if it’s only for a second, get’s us more people who at least have heard something of what this sounds like.
So whether you love fan-fic, sci-fi, fantasy, Escape, OTR, NTR, spoofs, mysteries, audiobooks or hard-hitting drama, the audio world needs you.
Share your love, and get stumbling!