Confessions of A Vote Begging Sphinn Whore (Not Really)

Posted in Social Media

devil I Sphinn all day long in between running a busy SEM shop, blogging conferences, studying and living life (sort of). There have been a couple of articles decrying the supposedly black practice of Sphinn story promotion recently and I’ve quietly bit my tongue because the hue and cry has been way over-simplistic and alarmingly utopian. Not today…

The bloggers I respect most are BUSY. Some of them won’t find submissions unless they are pitched. I’m BUSY. Often really cool stuff would slip by unnoticed if a friend did not alert me to it. The propriety of promoting Sphinn submissions among friends is NOT a black and white matter.

There is room for healthy promotional activity in the “wisdom of the mob mentality.” This is especially true since Sphinn is not very deep at providing RSS subscriptions to micro-streams from particular users’ behavior on the site which would eliminate the need for me to hear from my friends to stay abreast.

Get Over It!
GRATITUDE and humility are the emotions felt when folks, familiar and unknown alike, ask me to consider their content. I’m not a rock star and don’t have throngs of adoring SMM groupies to the point where I’m pissed off or offended. In my last life as a musician I was fortunate enough to sell a LOT of CDs blending dolphin song and music and they were very popular for a while.

Traveling all over the world promoting music was very heady stuff but we were never too busy to sign autographs or talk to a dorky young musician who might not have been mature enough yet to know the correct protocol by which to approach us. Lest not each of us forget our humble roots. (Yeah like top diggers don’t EVER ask for diggs…LOL)

Where Would We Be Without Sales?
Business is about selling. I’ve made amazing new friends by receiving pitches and pitching, gained respect for those I’ve never heard of, discovered industry masters, and (ironically) have become even more engaged in Sphinn as a result of the in-and-outflow. That’s how social media is actually supposed to work. At least 60 bloggers have sent at least one message requesting notification when I social-bookmark content on Sphinn.

It was easy to gain total respect for one friend who told me that a particular piece of content I pitched was weak, did not turn his crank and that he wouldn’t Sphinn it (Sebastian) and MU asked that I not use SU for stumbling Sphinns. I’ve asked bloggers myself to quit asking me for Sphinns cause’ they were bugging the crap out of me. I learned how to respect guys like Lee, Barry, and Rand in the process. We all make mistakes and figure life out…It’s all good.

Even G_d Asked for Help Spreading the Word
A very well know SEM writer, who never asks for votes, once asked for support for content he knew I would love…which was correct…and I did help by asking a few other pals to consider the content that night. It went hot 26 minutes later, having gotten the extra 5 votes needed. It was a pleasure to be asked and was proud to share his writings with my friends. The content kicked-ass and sparked a serious dialog.

Sometimes there’s a topic out there in blog land that I KNOW everyone will miss unless I aska few people to Sphinn it. It’s funny…usually after asking a few friends to consider a Sphinn story the post ends up getting 45-50 votes. In several cases the post would have been dead in the water without a little work on behalf of the content…which is the INTENT of the promotion. Who cares about utopian socialistic mob concepts if everyone is dead and nobody has any fun or interacts. It is the CONTENT excellent Sphinners promote-not themselves.

devil2

Socialism Kinda’ Doesn’t Always Work
It’s all utopian and stuff to dream of living in a world totally absent of self-promotion but SORRY, that’s not how it works. I’d also like everyone to have free health insurance, love all equally, and never sin. For God sakes we’re MARKETERS in a SOCIAL community. BUZZER!! The actual IDEA is to leverage relationships for the greater good of the collective with respect, insight and by bringing value. Social media is the new PR, but is there no PR allowed in social media? :)

Give Me Better Toolz Then
DING DONG: Since there is no RSS feed on Sphinn for me to subscribe to submissions from just a specific user by “Sphinn-stream” I am reliant on filtering out friends’ submissions without hearing from Pligg. To clarify, I DO use the “What’s New” feature (bookmarked and accessed incessantly on my phone in fact) and subscribe to available feeds.

However there are no feeds which filter content sufficiently so as to eliminate the need for finding out that a good friend or up-and-comer has posted something new. I am not a moderator, don’t make money from advertising on Sphinn, and don’t have time to scour pages and pages of quickly moving new stuff AFTER the other 2 hours a day I already spend voting, commenting, and submitting.

How ELSE are We Supposed to Find Out?
There is no email alert system for me to subscribe to Tamar’s Sphinns so, unless I feel like picking through 100 posts, I miss some. Tamar, I would actually be grateful if you would drop me a note via FB or SU and let me know when you Sphinn something that really matters to you so I don’t miss it. I love your work and am excited about getting to know you. You’re thing is very special to but I’m not always willing to wade through piles of crap to find it. I’d rather skip Sphinn and go back to reading 85 blogs every day.

Too Much Noise to Be a Flippn’ Philanthropist
Like everywhere on the Internet there is a growing crap-pile of NOISE on Sphinn. 100 posts a day to wade through and give “give a chance” to new writers is a tall order some days when we actually have to service our clients who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on media buys, have serious social media plays underway, and are not impressed with Sphinn like we are. Honestly without following what my friends do and interacting with them as part of the submission process I would not care about bringing content to the group.

Maybe we should just read everybody’s stuff in blogs and not submit…accept then there would be no site. I find it ironic that micro-communities are basically big human-mixers but there are all these rules about not contacting your friends when you bookmark something. Maybe we could have secret handshakes or text each other ciphers.

This is all about connecting people. The LAST thing I’m going to do is stop connecting people. At SMX Social 5 of the top 20 Sphinners passed each other’s notebooks around, each voting for their own stuff on each others’ notebooks. Yeah it was wrong by rock star rulez, but I made between 1-3 lifelong professional associations in that session-all for playfully bookmarking posts that would have gone hot anyway…it’s sacrilege I tell you!

Just Make Sure the Content You Bring is Awesome.
Usually when friends show up to promote their content and ask for Sphinns, Stumbles, and Diggs, it’s because they know what I’m interested in and I’m grateful. It’s also rare that someone is overly aggressive when first contacting me. If they are rude I “correct” them.

When a story rolls in that is wonderful (and yes I peruse every one of them) I actually LOOK for that writer in the future by avatar. More than half the time when I GET asked for a Sphinn, I’ve already Sphunn it. 80% of the time when I ASK adevil3 friend to “consider content for Sphinning” THEY have already Sphunn it. I contact them anyway because I know who likes what and I subscribe to the basic premise of Sphinn and every social site in the world: We bring value to the group. We make phriends.

It’s rare that I do not contact someone when bookmarking on Sphinn. That’s part of the joy for me. I love the network and connections. That said ask not what your community can do for you. Ask what you can do for your community. All of us ignore idiotic pitches but let’s not lock everybody out. Spam sucks but spam filters can wreck real stuff. Let’s not get so high and mighty that the rules for Sphinn are like some pagan ban on the pleasures of promotional interaction. It was never taboo to email someone and respectfully ask that they consider content in the past on behalf of yourself or friends. Respectfully, does the sunrise of socially moderated search mean that some direct human connections are evil now?

  • Mark Laymon

    Great post, like I said before always send me a link when you have a great post such as this.
    You Rock!

  • Michael

    Marty that is some serious commentary! Had no idea you had a “last life as a musician” but now I know why your social marketing skills are so hot. Looks like we’ve got another thing in common my friend.

    Trust you had a fabulous birthday.

  • Derek

    Great post Marty! Between working the day job, writing for my blogs, and getting out to visit and comment at other blogs it is very easy to miss great posts on various social sites.

    I always appreciate a little heads-up from a friend when they have something of particular interest. As you mention, that certainly can be abused but I have been lucky thus far to not encounter that myself.

    I just posted about herd mentality on my site and I say keep sharing those links with friends, regardless of what the masses may say about it!

  • Lyndon Antcliff

    I don’t agree.

    I’m not going to refer to specific bits as I don’t have time, but what’s with the socialism reference?

    Here’s my take on it, people who piss me off constantly grubbing for votes for sub standard content piss me off. How is that good business, it’s nothing to do with socialism.

    The act of getting a front page sphinn has a price and a reward. If the only way you can get a front page is by calling in favours then what does that say about your brand.

    Now I am not saying that it is wrong to help out a friend, on the contrary, but a friend will also say, “dude, why do you want to be associated with crap.” If crap is what you are selling.

    I think saying it’s “only business” is over simplistic ;) Business is also about reputation, brand, image, perception etc. There are people on sphinn who are building their brand buy annoying the hell out of people by constantly grubbing for votes. You refer to it yourself Marty.

    There is a way to do it and a way to do it. Sure, sell the arse off your content, but if you damage your rep at the same time what have you actually earned.

    I didn’t get to the top of Shpinn by trading votes, or scratching backs, yeah sure I did occasionally ask for a push into Sphinn nirvana. Yes I know I am no longer No1, cappo du tutti capo, Maki is and some guy called Chris Winfield ;)

    I know Maki only submits good stuff, which is why I always note his posts.

    I agree with Marty on a lot of things, but I don’t agree that it’s simply “business”

  • Marty Weintraub

    Lyndon, when it comes to respect I think of you in the same terms as the luminaries mentioned above. Your brand is wonderful. Hell, in an interview once YOU put the idea in my head to think about social media profiles as “brands” per say. That’s just SO valuable.

    Lots of bloggers I know learned from your headline-writing and emulated it. I personally learned from the integrity of your “connection” methods and am proud to have a little of my UK link building pal in the bag of tricks. I Sphinn your stuff ’cause it’s always valuable.

  • Lyndon Antcliff

    Marty, I think we are on the same page in judging the value that each other brings to the industry. I think it would be a bit more boring without you.

    Most of my feeling about this subject is coloured by being repeatedly asked to vote on crap by people I have little or no association with.

  • Matt Keegan

    Marty, I am with you all the way on this. I don’t mind learning about various articles through Sphinn provided the information is fresh, interesting and informative.

    Too many articles posted to Sphinn cover a narrow subject area including:

    –Nasty Google and their evil PageRank penalties (enough!)

    –Numbered lists which repeats what other numbered lists have said over and over again.

    –Promoting a new social media community to create viral awareness. Okay, how many times do we have to hear that Blogburst is the greatest thing since sliced cheese?

    I like articles that show the writer has put something into it instead of scraping ideas from other sites. Be passionate about the subject and engage your readers, don’t tell us what to do. Opinions are fine, but they are just that — your opinion.

    I haven’t been on Sphinn lately for one reason — I’m very busy. However, the article sent to me (usually via StumbleUpon) that meets my previously mentioned criteria will get Sphinned, perhaps stumbled and I may even leave blog comment behind.

  • Dharmesh Shah

    This is precisely the kind of transparent communication that is needed in the social media world.

    Rise up! Those whose content is compelling. Do not sit idly by in sleepless silence as those with mediocre messages climb the heights of sphinn and digg. It is not only permitted to play the rules (as it were) by asking for help from those that trust you so you have a fighting chance — it is your responsibility to do so.

    If you had made an independent film (or were playing with an upcoming band at a local bar), would you not ask your friends to check it out and spread word to their friends if they liked it? How is this different?

    Thanks, Marty, for kicking off the conversation.

  • Rose Sylvia

    The above exchange between Lyndon and Marty sheds light on the reason for their difference of opinion: QUALITY! I doubt Lyndon has ever minded being asked to promote an awesome post or page.

    Marty gave all the clues required to successfully interact in social networking:
    1. First learn to recognize what quality content is
    2. Know what others are interested in by what they promote
    3. Check to see who has already Sphunn, Stumbled, Dugg, del-icio-used, etc. before you ask
    4. Respect others’ time by only promoting high quality posts that may go unrecognized without assistance

  • Sam Freedom

    Thank heavens there’s another blogger like me somewhere in the world. And many kudos to Andy Beard for CONNECTING us.

    One of the many reasons I love this particular post, Marty, is because of what it brought out in the Puritans. There’s always that one boatload of people who make it to the “New World” first who then establish themselves as the arbiter of all standards. When I read their self-congratulatory opinions, I can’t help but think, “Felix Unger.”

    As for myself, I guess I’ve taken not-taking-things-so-seriously much too seriously. ;-) In one of my next articles, I’ll make an initial distinction between the “blogger/marketer” and the “marketer/blogger.” Each has their own way of making a living online and, in my non-humble opinion, each has as a right to be Sphunn in Sphinn.

    If, as you say, I am inclined to drop Andy Beard an email with a request to “please take a quick look at my latest and take her for a Sphinn if you like”, then I’ll do it. And while I haven’t, and for which I have no current plans, I would in a heartbeat.

    Like the rest of us, let the socialists (cough, I meant, “purists”) learn, a la Darwin, to adapt to their newfound celebrity by setting up a small way of managing Sphinn requests. With all of their fame and good fortune, I’ve no doubt they’ve enough in Adsense earnings to set up a Help Desk. They can then hire their “No” man or woman from the Far East who’ll staff it for an hour or two per day.

    Why are those who seem to do so well also happen to seem so cranky?

    Anyways, I’m comin’ right out and sayin’, I love this post and I love Andy Beard for pointing me here and I agree with you a thousand percent. If someone can’t stand the spheat then they should get out of the kitcsphen.

    Sam
    This is not a link to my blog, I swear.

  • Lyndon Antcliff

    Sam, I don’t know you, but after reading you post I can only deduce that you are a [moderated].

    No one is against, pinging someone to encourage them to vote, so your “purist” gang is a total of zero. Everyone does it, there are no “Felix Ungers” and there are no socialists

    But not to see the difference between voting for a friends quality post and putting your name to utter shite simply because you are part of a [moderated] club is another thing. But hey, if that’s your bag, go for it. I don’t say you are wrong.

    All I say is by your Sphinn you will be known. But if you don’t mind promoting sticky brown excrement within the industry just to get on that oh so valuable front page, do it. I wont hate you for it, I just think you are being short minded and not thinking of long term opportunities.

    I am going to be at SMX London next month, I would love it if people want to debate this face to face.

    Felix Unger indeed, “You did not even know that was linguini.” haha

  • Marty Weintraub

    Let’s talk to Danny about having this be a panel topic.

  • Sam Freedom

    [Moderated] Lyndon. Sorry if the “purist” comment was a bit too much of a jab for you. I’ll tone it down a notch – next century. ;-) But I think you made my point in your previous reply because you’re only considering the extremes.

    Like I’ve said elsewhere, it’s all academic. I think it’s Whatever 101 that anyone who would Sphinn ANY kind of crap would be foolish. In reality, there’s different shades of grey and it still stands that people are going to help each other out and it’s not all going to be [Moderated].

  • Local SEO Guide

    Marty,

    Sorry I dropped into this one so late. In my quest to provide actionable, useful tips to my readers instead of philosophizing, I recommend that anyone pinging Marty for a Sphinn use some variation of the word “whore” in the title of the request. For you Sphinners who enjoy stats, I have observed the following:

    1. Using “Whore” in a request title generates about a 75% positive response.
    2. “Hoor” generates about a 95% positive response.
    3. “Sleazy hoor” clocks in at 100%

    + or – 3% margin of error of course.

  • Marty Weintraub

    Andrew, it was worth the wait to have you finally solve it for us :).

  • Sebastian

    Good debate. :)

    I get lots of *-my-post requests, and I check out most of them (depending on my workload). I don’t sphinn/digg/stumble/… crap, so I never managed to become a member of a [self-censored, not moderated] voting club. Also, more important, folks gave up to point me to unsphinnable stuff (is this a word?). Ok, sometimes I replied somewhat unfriendly. Anyways, Marty’s alerts are appreciated, and the same goes for a few other folks. Currently I’m a few dozend incoming SU links behind, and maybe I write a routine to delete the SU queue coz this way I got most of the BS as well as hints to each and every post of blogs I read anyway, respectively have subscribed to (hint: provide the sphinn/stumble/digg/… links in your feeds). Bottom line is, I appreciate hints to voteworthy content I didn’t find myself (yet), even when I’m swamped, but don’t send me everything.

  • Marty Weintraub

    Thanks for stopping by Sebastian. It’s always a pleasure.

  • Andy Beard

    I would just like to add to this conversation that I did point Sam in the direction of this blog.

    Sam is an old friend from various Internet Marketing forums. He can be a little controversial in his writing, but at the same time he is one of the most genuine marketers I know.

    It might take a little while for the Sphinn community to get used to him ;) but I think you will all find him to be an asset.

  • Marty Weintraub

    Thanks for sending your pal this way Andy. He’s a spirited chap for sure.

  • Matt Jones

    You know you are cliquey when you don’t have to link to the people you mention in a post but everyone still knows who they are…

  • Sam Freedom

    Thanks, Andy.

    Marty, I’ve never been called a spirited chap before. I appreciate the attempt at diplomacy but I still wish you had a bit more of an edge to you. So far, so good, though… ;-)

  • Mike Marshall

    IMHO, merely bringing an article to someone’s attention isn’t really vote begging. The voter still possesses entire and complete free will to vote on the article or not.

    The line between “Article Promotion” and “Vote Begging” is kind of like the line between “Burgeoning Romance” and “Sexual Harassment”. It all depends on the reaction of the person being solicited.

    Regardless of how much active promotion an article submission recieves, the article will still live or die by the weight of its content.

  • Marty Weintraub

    You can’t wrap a turd up in a bow…or can you?

  • Nick Stamoulis

    These are excellent points! It is always a major challange to write good enough content on our blogs to be Sphinn worthy…we build useful content for our reads with hopes over time we will get more Sphinns. If you build the could possibly come :o)

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