We often talk about developing and giving away free content to entice people to your site. Unfortunately, many people might selfishly take the content and then not to do anything to reward you, such as hitting the facebook like button or sharing with their social network.

A trend you will see from a lot of larger companies is to say ‘like us on Facebook’ to get a discount code, free guide or enter a competition. This is a clear distortion of the social sector and a good reason why google should be taking social indicators with a big pinch of salt – they are easy to distort by some.

As a small business how can you join this party? Well, if you have produced link bait content that has real value then why not try www.paywithatweet.com to ask people to add to your social indicators before allowing them access.

We’d advise a balanced approach of free content with very clear social bookmarking icons, and more in depth content that you require people to ‘pay for socially’.

If you feel uncomfortable doing this then remember that the big guys are all blatantly doing it, and that it’s only fair to ask for something in return for giving away content that has real value.