Gaming The System or Web 2.1?

 

Most social bookmarking sites like Sphinn, StumbleUpon and Digg dislike, actively discourage and sometimes actually punish participation in bookmarking groups. They argue that these groups game the system and distort the natural, egalitarian flow of their voting systems.

 

These systems are designed around the idea that superior content will always be recognized and rise naturally to the top with the positive votes it receives. (Can't you here the angels singing?) The problem lies in the fact that most of these sites use an algorithm that requires X number of positive votes in X amount of time for the article to reach superstar status. While a few users may sit around hitting the refresh button on the "New" or "Upcoming" page, most users can't remain on constant alert for the awesome article because, you know, they have a life.

 

Marty from AimClear wrote an article last week that got me thinking about the natural progression of things from a marketing point of view. In the article Marty discussed the the social bookmarking sites', specifically Sphinn's, problem with and dislike of bookmarking groups or alliances as well as his justifications for their existence.

 

The article is quite in depth but his point is basically this, If the content is great and folks want to vote for it, what difference does it make how they heard about it?

 

What Do These 3 People Have In Common?

 

  1. A fantastic musician struggling to pay the bills while working on music row.
  2. An awesome artist barely getting by painting portraits on Jackson Square.
  3. A creative writer posting to a blogspot blog with 35 subscribers.

 

Answer: A lack of promotion.

 

Most successful people, at some point, had the help of a well connected individual or two who recognized their talent and used their connections and influence to promote them. Social media sites have the ability to create instant notoriety for an author that can, perhaps, be the big break of discovery they need.

 

  1. If you feel you have written an outstanding article, why is it not acceptable to alert your friends and ask their help in promoting it if they feel it is worthy?
  2. Why is it not OK to share what you feel is top-notch content with a friend  you think would appreciate it?

 

Web 2.1

 

In Marty's article he asks, "Social media is the new PR, but is there no PR in social media?"

 

The fact is, social media promotion groups are simply the natural progression of the Web 2.0 environment. Web 2.1, if you will.

 

Demanding social media users not form promotional alliances requires an active suspension of common sense and is akin to demanding that members of Downtown Whoville Unlimited or the local Rotary Club not exchange business cards or contact one another away from meetings.

 

What To Do

 

Anyone who sits around in the present proclaiming, "We are the future and we make the rules!" is bound to find themselves ruling the past.

- Ad Tracker

 

Instead of trying to stamp out the inevitable, social media sites should try to find ways of accommodating this move to Web 2.1.

 

StumbleUpon has made great strides in this direction and is providing an example other sites would do well to duplicate through "Groups", the "Stumble Their Favorites" button, individual RSS feeds and the "Send To" feature on the tool bar.

 

Digg seems to be inching in that direction with the recent addition of "Friends". Sphinn, however, is dragging woefully behind with its stubborn resistance of the future.

 

Is it not the ultimate irony that Sphinn proclaims itself to be a hub for "Internet Marketing News" yet frowns on the most basic of marketing principles?

 

*This post may be Sphunn here.

 

 

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45 comments:

YC said...

Honestly, how can they even prevent group promotion? :) To even spend effort on trying to do that is unproductive.

Ad Tracker said...

YC - They have algorithms and tracking for everything but I agree it's a waste of time. I think they'll come to that conclusion soon :)

CHESSNOID said...

I stumble everything I like, and I stumble pretty much all my mutual friends picks. They really seem to have similar likes. The algorithm would see similar patterns within all social groups with similar likes, I would think.
What do you think?
Cheers!

Ad Tracker said...

Chessnoid - I think you are probably right and that would explaine why they have so much difficulty stopping it :)

Brown Baron said...

Almost everything can be considered gaming the system actually. If an A-lister promotes a post by another A-lister because he thinks it's a great article, how is that different with this situation? If people are being forced to vote/submit posts they don't like, then that's wrong. But that's not the case. People form groups with others that have similar tastes and end up voting on the same posts. Of course I'm not an A-lister so I probably don't know what I'm talking about haha.

Ad Tracker said...

Awww Baron, I think you're an A-Lister ;)

You do make valid points and I agree :)

Fred @ Newest on the Net said...

I agree that creating groups like this is essential. If you don't have name recognition, it is hard to get attention on social sites. You need to find groups of people who will pay attention to your writings. I don't see anything wrong with this.

Marty said...

ad tracker,
Thank you for covering the fracas and giving the the sweet links. Certainly the dialog struck a nerve. I appreciate your insight and observations.

Ad Tracker said...

@ Fred - Thanks for the moral support :)


@ Marty - You're quite welcome.

Thanks for the help you give from time to time :)

And thank you for putting such good content out there to give us poor hacks something to talk about ;)

Nick said...

No matter what they do to try and prevent groups like this from forming, the users will find a way to do it anyway. By building it in to the platform they just put everyone on the same level.

Ad Tracker said...

Nick - I agree and I think they are starting to understand that if they can't beat them they better join them :)

PoEt said...

Voted for you :) sphunn and dugg

Ad Tracker said...

Thanks Matt :)

Mama Zen said...

Just discovered your site. REALLY interesting stuff. I'll definitely be back!

Ad Tracker said...

Mama Zen - Thanks! Look forward to seeing you around.

Thanks for taking the time to comment :)

Simonne@alltipsandtricks.com said...

Group promotion is pretty much the same as friends promotion. I suppose that groups whose members are not friends are even better, because nobody feels obliged to vote for a post if she doesn't like it, while a friend could get very upset for not being voted by friends. I'm happy to see finally some sincerity out there, as last year I felt guilty for every single post I've promoted myself, because nobody cared of my writing. And I felt that way because of lots of bloggers preaching that one should not submit her own articles to social media. Sure, write all your life, and we will give you honours after you die!

Ad Tracker said...

Simonne - You're right, you can sit around waiting your whole life to be 'discovered' or you can take the bull by the horns ;)

Thanks for stopping in and commenting. Come again :)

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