Todd graciously offered to do an e-interview with me and I certainly wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity…

1) You announced that you are getting back into the social media marketing game. What sorts of projects / clients are you looking to associate with? Will you also get back to writing some more most excellent creative blog posts?

I am working mainly with digg, reddit, stumbleupon to push social traffic to sites to get them more traction. I’ve always had a main focus of links, but I’ve also seen the benefits of CPM and CPA models. At the end of the day it’s all about improving your business model. I’ll always be an SEO at heart – but “optimizing” to me includes anything that improves the bottom line – it just normally starts with better search rankings. I’ve always been a competitive webmaster, and I think social media is the best current approach for distribution, traffic, links, and branding. I definitely owe a thanks to Brent Csutoras for helping reconvince me of how powerful social media can be if you put the effort into it.

I probably won’t be posting much on a whole lot due to time constraints. I always want to get back to it, but it always seems to fall off the bottom of the weekly priority list. I do twitter on occassion though. It takes a lot of time to create well thought out articles and presentations on new and unique topics on a consistent basis. I tend to reserve most of this mental bandwidth for premium training these days. I’ve been involved with now for about a year and a half, and I think the program is really starting to get some legs. There is some amazing content from Analytics, PPC, Conversion, Social Media, and PR experts – and I handle the search engine optimization training. I’ve contributed most of my time to creating voice presentations and videos for the site. I can’t say enough good things about the people including Avinash Kaushik and many others. Just check out the site.

2) At Pubcon, Guillaume Borchard argued that Digg has principally become a distribution tool for mainstream media outlet news and that only about a half dozen stories per day from “independent” sources will crack the front page. What’s your take on this?

Well Guillaume is a smart dude, so I’m sure he can put up a spirited debate on why social media overlooks the little guy, and he’d likely be right in a lot of ways. A good percentage of the sites are of the “authoritative” nature, and success breeds more success. A good percentage of the time, big sites end up breaking stories, and getting to the homepage of social sites due to their timeliness. Being faster is one of the advantages the little guys got going for them though. You can get a peak at the top sources.

I think it’s still much more important what a large portion of the success comes from top users. Each of these top users likely submits, I would guess 80 – 100% stories that they don’t have a commercial interest in. Again, top users look to the top sources to get the most homepage stories. That’s why many big sites get submitted over and over the second a new story gets launched on them. The other percent is the small unique sources with really cool content. Social media is about making something fresh, and it’s possible to do that, but certainly not easy.

3) It’s a lot easier to recognize stories created for social media campaigns than it is to come up with the ideas. Can you go over the generic process you use for conceptualizing and creating linkbait?

I almost always start with searches on the communities and topics that I’m covering. If you’re doing finance – try searching google, reddit, digg, and others for topics that will work well within the respective community. From there, I try to find someone to write an article, or keep up to date on things that is familiar with the topic. A copywriter from overseas that writes just to satisfy word counts is never going to create a piece like someone who is passionate about their subject. You need to be passionate to be successful. You need the extra attention to detail. I try to come up with a social media hook generally that will cater to the “linkerati” (or link target market).

Presentation is a big portion of the process that often gets overlooked. You can have great ideas, but if you have unformatted looking image and text, it will be difficult to read (aka skim) for users, and probably won’t do as well. Spending extra time of the details of formatting is a very important point. Good enough isn’t the GREAT that it takes to succeed many times on social media sites. There are lots of other resources on creating linkbait ideas, that you can find here.

4) What sort of process and time commitment does it take to develop a power account on the major social networks?

Becoming an active member in any community is a siginficant time commitment. Building social profiles can be very labor intensive. The demand on time is why we’re seeing a lot of companies outsource their social media marketing to agencies and consultants. I will gladly tell you nearly everything that I learned while building my accounts. Chris Winfield at has a couple nice posts on building a digg profile, and ways to stand out. It’s difficult to dedicate the time and discipline, but it really consists of a few simple steps:

  1. Create a username and persona
  2. Add friends, and vote on content
  3. Add more friends, and build an IM list
  4. Start submitting content
  5. After you receive critical mass, start slipping in your OWN content.
  6. Rinse…repeat.

This process can take months to years depending on the speed that you do it with. You can see why these profiles become a bit of a commodity, and people become somewhat secretive about them.

5) As social media evolves from Blogging to Facebook to Twitter, the barrier between a well-known industry personality such as your self and your audience becomes narrower and narrower. How can you both maintain your personal space and simultaneously appear to “fully” participate in social media?

As I mentioned, building and maintaining profiles is quite labor intensive. I’ve resigned from being “stuntdubl” in many channels, as it became counter productive, and not helpful to have a non-anonymous persona.

I think if you choose to embrace being yourself in web land, you get accustomed to people hating on your stuff. It’s hard to fully participate if you are completely tranparent in who you are as a person. I prefer to do a little of both – using twitter and facebook as personal tools to communicate with friends and family, and using other social media channels like digg, delicious, reddit, stumbleupon for marketing distribution mediums. It’s pretty difficult to maintain multiple profiles, but programs like the awesome Easytweets for Twitter makes it a whole lot easier.

6) Of the commonly known signals that we know make up the Google Algorithm, which do you see becoming more emphasized and which do you see becoming deemphasized?

I think using bounce rate as a metric for quality is definitely on the rise in terms of important variables. I can’t imagine exact match domains getting any stronger. They really have to be demphasized a little bit. Global link popularity as a whole seems to be slowly declining, but will always be a cornerstone for Google’s algo. I think we’ll see more emphasis on toolbar and clickthrough data, as many SEO’s have been speculating for a long time. It’s a funny irony that people think a lot changes with SEO. There’s only a few variables that are really truly important. It’s just a matter of understanding those variables, and executing on them that leads ultimately to success with your website.

Bio: Todd Malicoat is the Market Motive faculty for premium SEO training. He currently resides in San Francisco, CA (Portrero Hill), and is an SEO and social media marketing consultant. He’s been a speaker at many search and marketing conferences, and builds his own web properties. He enjoys drinking wine, tattoos, and trying to take down servers with traffic loads.

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