Dec 21 2011
An interview with David Leonhardt of The Happy Guy Marketing
Lots of bloggers and marketers have participated in social voting sites like Digg and then give up because they didn’t see many of their posts get to the front page. What is really possible if they participated in a more effective way with these sites?
Anyone can get on the front page of a social bookmarking site, assuming they have the right content. I know a lot of folks that submit every blog post to Digg and BizSugar and StumbleUpon. Their review of a certain bank account or credit card offer. How to tweak a certain WordPress plugin. There might be great reasons to blog about these topics, perhaps to earn affiliate income, but they are not “viral” topics meant for social sharing. So the first thing to do, if you write posts like these, is do triage between these rather dull, mechanical posts and those with broad appeal and either very useful or very eye-catching.
What are some ways to prepare a broad appeal topic for a rather dull thing like kitchen water faucets, for example, so that it gets the attention of people in social bookmarking sites?
Kitchen water faucets? >>yawn<< Oh, well, the faucets themselves are pretty boring, but there are fascinating things related to them. Off the top of my head…
Find studies on how much bacteria are on faucet spouts (and counters, and sinks, etc.)
Do a study to find out how often faucets are used to rinse food, rinse hands, rinse dishes, wash hands, wash dishes, etc.
Track down how much water typically flows through each faucet of an American household.
Hire a poet to write an Ode to Faucets.
Create a video using faucets in unlikely places around town (to hammer in a nail, to sort through jelly beans at the bulk food store, etc.)
Great ideas to get people interested. So, what’s next?
Great content is sort of the ante to play. To succeed at social bookmarking, you need to engage with people. The good news is that even shy people and hermits can engage.
The first rule of engagement in social media of all types, not just social bookmarking, is to give. I said that anyone can succeed at social bookmarking, but that’s not totally accurate. If you are the type of person who has to constantly calculate how much you’ve given and how much you’ve received, it will be hard to be successful, and you likely won’t enjoy it.
How do you give in social bookmarking?
The simple answer is to vote for other people’s stuff. At the end of the day, everybody wants their submissions to do well. They want people to see them. They want search engines to see them. They want new RSS subscribers. They want new eyeballs. And votes get them there.
But social media is never simple. You can give by commenting. You can give by commenting on their blog post itself. You can give by tweeting or FaceBook sharing or Google plussing their submissions. You can give by emailing them a compliment about their post.
These are ways to give, and some of them are arguably much better at getting someone’s attention and engaging with them, than voting for their submission. Well, all of them, actually.
So make sure to give, give, give, before you can expect to receive.
Sounds like the golden rule. It’s obvious that you like giving David and it seems to come naturally to you. For me, it’s not so natural, but once I get started giving, as you say, I usually enjoy it. How did you get into giving?
I honestly don’t know how I learnt this lesson, but it was likely a combination of watching others who were successful and getting excited over other people’s content and tweeting and commenting. If I could spend all day reading people’s blogs and commenting on them, I would.
But also, understanding the law of reciprocity is important. Why would anyone want to help me, if I don’t help them. Again, I caution against keeping some kind of table of how many times each person supports you. The law of reciprocity is more of a what-goes-around-comes-around. You literally create your own good karma by being a giver. In fact, I wrote about this eight years ago, before getting addicted to social media, so I guess it just came naturally when it came time.
And when people see you giving, you don’t have to be so shy about asking when you need help.
I’ve learned a lot about reciprocity just by watching you “play” in social media and I agree it is addicting, especially when I see good things coming back. You bring up a good point about time commitment. How much time should someone commit to this who is just getting started?
Like many things, it actually takes more time to set things up than to keep going. For instance, I keep a separate browser window open with some of my favourite sites (the ones I enjoy most, not necessarily the ones that are best for business) and I pop in on them when I have other delays, such as a download that takes a while, or time for a snack, or while on hold on some automated phone system.
But to start up, you need to set up an account and to take a lot of time to connect with people. You have no idea which other users of a site pay attention to their comments and which pay attention to their votes. Some people never notice that you retweet their submissions, whereas other people are very responsive to that. Some people don’t read comments on their blog posts; others (like me) moderate every one, and still others try to respond to every one. So at first you find yourself trying various means to reach out to other people.
Perhaps the best time management tip is to pick just a couple sites at first, and build relationships there. If you want to expand after that, go ahead; I am sure you have noticed how many people active on one site are active on others, as well, so you are not starting from zero.
Ah, you mentioned building relationships. Some of us hear about using social media to build relationships, but perhaps haven’t seen the results of it yet. Can you share an example or two of how building relationships in social media has paid off for you?
There are, of course, all sorts of relationships. The most basic at any social voting site is that the people whose submissions you vote for will often vote for yours. But you are right that it can go way beyond that. I run a freelance writers agency. Two of my top writers, and one occasional writer, came to me from social bookmarking. One as a user on my own Zoomit.ca, one from Digg, and the other from several sites, including Digg, TIPD and Twitter.
There have also been some great guest blogging opportunities for me and for my clients. A couple weeks ago, my solar power blog was a guest poster on one of the top environmental blogs on Digg. As I speak, I am arranging two guest posts for a client, and instead of hunting down blogs through Google and trying to contact webmasters in hopes that somebody will read my message, I went straight to bloggers I already know. Saved me a pile of time.
Perhaps the best example of the value of relationships is that when you wanted to discuss social voting secrets, you reached out to me.
I reached out to you for many of the reasons you’ve discussed, plus you are one of the gurus or power users of social voting sites. Ok, is there anything else you want to add?
There is one other, very important thing that actually applies to all social online interactions. It is so easy to forget that we are dealing with human beings, because after all, we are just staring at a computer screen. But any social venue online – a blog, a chat room, social bookmarking, a forum – is composed of real people, just like you and me. And just like any group offline, each gathering has different official rules and different unofficial rules to follow.
Before doing anything, make sure you read the official rules and watch how the top users are behaving. There are many social sharing sites that encourage you to submit your own content. There are others where it is frowned upon. And there are still others where it is OK to submit your own content, as long as it is not too commercial and you submit and comment on a lot of just-for-sharing stuff that you have no direct stake in.
Respect the written and unwritten rules of any community.
Great point, you don’t want the moderator of the social media site to wonder whether you are aware of the guidelines or not. I got banned from Tip’d one time because the moderator didn’t have time to tell me my submission was questionable. But, I did follow up with the moderator and apologized so she reinstated my account.
I have known lots of people who have been banned from various places. The old Mixx and Propeller, and previous versions of Digg were famous for that. I have had accounts deleted at Digg and Newsvine without ever having an inkling as to what I might have done. Was I banned? Did my account get accidentally deleted? Who knows? And the big sites will never tell you. Reddit is now famous for this; they ban your account, but it appears to the user that the account is still active. Nasty stuff.
Very recently, I had my account deleted at two smaller sites. One appears to have been a political statement with a profit motive and the other was a technical error – my account and all my data was restored from a back-up.
Thanks for sharing David. Tell us a little more about your business.
The Happy Guy Marketing has been helping clients gain maximum exposure on the Internet through SEO and social media since 2003. We provide services in English, French and Spanish (and occasionally in other Roman-alphabet languages). We also run a freelance writing agency, which includes books (mostly fiction, biography and business), press releases, web copy and blog posts, speeches and screenplays. And we also run Canada’s social bookmarking website, Zoomit.ca
Curiously, David is working on a training program to teach people the principals of social media interaction that he uses. If you want to know the details when it’s ready, subscribe and we’ll keep you posted.