Social media optimization tips from Neil Patel

I had the pleasure of interviewing Neil Patel, leading practitioner in social media optimization, recently by phone and by email. Social media optimization is the new art of wielding tools, strategies and influence for the purpose of gaining visiblity on social media networks and sites like Digg,, reddit, NewsVine,, MySpace and even Wikipedia.

There was a great Wall Street Journal article in February talking about social media and the top influencers. Neil was featured as one of the top influencers on

When Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point (a book I highly recommend, btw!), wrote about “connectors” and the power that they wielded to influence large populations of people — to infect them with new ideas, fashions, fads and so forth — I really think of people like Neil as the online equivalent. When Neil submits something on Digg, it can yield 20,000-30,000 visitors and cause the featured story’s web server to crash!

Making it on to the home page is a laudable goal for social media optimization but, as Neil points out, it is not always appropriate or feasible. Digg users are alpha geeks. They are not going to be terribly receptive to articles about home decor or feng shui.

StumbleUpon is another great social media network worth targeting. For those who are unfamiliar with StumbleUpon, it is like channel surfing — but on the Web. There is a plugin that you install on your web browser that provides a button that you can press to channel surf. As part of the installation process, you select which topics you are interested in. Then, when you hit the StumbleUpon button, you are taken to websites which are given a “thumbs up” by other StumbleUpon users and which are in your areas of interest. I’ve found some really neat websites just by “stumbling upon” them.

Each social media site network has its own quirks and nuances and politics. Getting high visibility on reddit requires a very different submitter profile, story, topic and so forth than Digg. Getting visibility in Wikipedia is a real quagmire. Stumble Upon is certainly more straightforward than Wikipedia but it has its own quirks and tricks.

Have a listen to my 15-minute podcast interview with Neil, and also check out the text interview (conducted separately by email) which is in the Netconcepts’ Cool Friends library of interviews.

Neil will be speaking at the American Marketing Association’s Hot Topic: Search Engine Marketing, in San Francisco on April 22, NYC on May 25, and Chicago on June 22. I highly recommend attending. I’m chairing the conferences, so I’ll be there too!