Social media goes well beyond the social news sites like Digg & Newsvines and "stumbling" sites like Stumble Upon. If you look at social media in simple that narrow focus you are missing out on a huge amount of opportunities to target traffic and branding for your clients. Not too long ago, I wrote a piece entitled "Social Media Sites: A Handy Reference Guide" that brings that point home even more.
Taking that into account, I read two articles today that really made me want to bring that point home. One article is about "landing pages" for Social Media, by Neil Patel. The other, is by Jennifer Laycock from Search Engine Guide which goes on to counter Neil's article in a very "on point" way. Both of these writers are industry colleagues of mine and whom I respect a great deal.
Neil's article I believe, as Jennifer points out, misses the mark. Jennifer points out several key points in her article by countering the suggestions of removing navigation and ads from the page to adding specific Firefox and Mac logos. I whole heartedly agree with Jen on these points and here's why: Social Media isn't just Digg and Stumble Upon.
Most of Neil's suggestions really seemed to be aimed at pleasing the "Digg Market". If that was the aim, pleasing those social news users, then that article does make a little more sense, for example Digg users notoriously love Firefox and Macs. But applying all of the tactics to your pages if you are targeting a community that isn't tech savvy could spell doom for efforts.
Take for example removing the navigation. If you were targeting that was about exercising, cycling, running and those sorts of things. Your company is a regular participator and contributor to the community and it developed this great new product that would help bicyclers and runners monitor their heart rates more accurately. You've got this news in your news section, so you link to it when someone's asking about products to help them or if the community has a members news section.
Removing the navigation from this area would be disastrous to your efforts. Sure you might get the links into that page, but what do they do after they read the article ? What if they wanted more information about your company or maybe even want to buy the product the article is about? If you took the suggestion of building a special landing page with no navigation, in this instance you've just lost the chance to convert that very targeted and interested visitor.
I'm not saying the Neil's suggestions were totally wrong, I'm saying before you apply them - know your target audience. If your targeting Digg, then most of his suggestions make sense, but if you understand social media goes well beyond those news type sites, approach the suggestions with caution. In the end, it's all about knowing your audience.