Ask Not What Community Can Do For YOU

Posted in Social Media

Ear

Those of us old enough (or studied politically) know that this headline invokes John F. Kennedy’s immortal Inaugural Address- January 20th 1961. His words ring true today with astounding clarity and resonate throughout the fabric of society as an entitled generation of global citizens selfishly asks, “what’s in it for ME?” Nowhere is this clearer than in social media circles, where an ishy minority of self-centered users muddy the waters for the authentic.

Ask What YOU Can Do for Your Community
What unique value do YOU bring to the table? How do your actions lift up those less experienced, breathless in excitement to learn? Exactly how hard are you willing to work? How much time are you available to unselfishly invest to bookmark content and network? Do you PROVE that community matters to you by deeds not words? Do you RACE, with quickened pulse, for the privilege of submitting your favorite blog’s post which just rolled in the door by way of Facebook note? Do you spend hours a day healthily engaged in social activities?

Plenty of Creeps
The vast major of those encountered in the social media universe are great folks to meet and interact with. Still, Narcissistic nincompoops frequent dark corners in StumbleUpon. Idiots, who don’t understand the etiquette of gaming the gamers, act like Digg-best-friends without actually knowing you. Vote beggars grub for Sphinns and Stumbles without offering reciprocal value or kinship.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place to be delightfully nasty or righteously indignant. There is a time and a place to respectfully request that a friend consider content for a thumbs up or vote. There are times and places. Knowing “times and places” is the stuff true communities are made of.

Social media mirrors physical life and social communities are replete with wanna-be TAKERS who give no energy back, act entitled, and don’t share. Maybe it’s a result of the Rug Rat generation coming of age but there is a palpable lack of understanding sometimes. Participation is about REALLY giving. I’ve been guilty of it…especially early in my social media career whilst indulging in a fair amount of vote begging. Now I know blind disrespect is enough to piss a blogger off.

A Couple of Things Tamar Was Right About
Last year I had some public tantrums about “social media rock stars.” It’s OK that she and I disagree about a some things and I stand by positions taken. That said, I see now that Tamar was absolutely right on a couple of important points I didn’t understand at the time. I stand corrected.

Referring to Sphinn she wrote, “The wisdom of crowds should play an important part in the evolution of this social news website. Good stories will get to the front page on their own.” It took me a while to figure it out and now I understand…

Somehow I receive lots of Sphinn and Stumble requests and, for the most part, am happy to oblige. I read every post before putting my name on the line to recommend it. The irony is that these would-be social media heroes who ask (sometimes requesting votes for 3-4 posts at a time) NEVER take it upon themselves to Sphinn or Stumble an aimClear Blog post-or send me much I actually care about based on knowledge of my actual tastes.

I doubt they know much about me at all. Ironically, it’s those who would never ask me for votes that often submit aimClearBlog posts to their friends in social settings. I wish Jeff, Tom, Andy, Shana, or Brian would ask for votes because they’re so damn good…I don’t want to miss their stuff. Lyndon told me once not to grub for votes. Then at least you “know where you stand.”

The Proof is in the Profile
Tamar has dugg over 20,000 stories. She has EARNED the right to Digg things hot to the homepage by bringing immense wealth to the community with constant participation. It’s true that much of what aimClear Sphinns goes hot and I’ve earned that, among other reasons, by casting 3008 Sphinns. My 132 submissions are around 4% of the posts I support with votes. I comment nearly 3X the amount I submit. Sphinn is a 1-2 hour commitment every day at minimum. I Sphinn mobile while driving.

You can’t own a social community without understanding them. There’s a belief that if you contact tons of friends and (as my friend Matt puts it) “dog poop” will go hot. Well let me tell you that IS correct but has little value in the long term. It’s actually OK to contact friends and ask them to Digg, Stumble, & Sphinn content but TAKE YOUR TIME and be sure that it’s REALLY something appropriate for the community targeted. Ask actual friends who care about you and believe in your propensity to recommend great stuff.

“I wrote it” is not synonymous with “appropriate.” If you’re going to ping blogger after blogger to vote then make damn sure that it’s actually something that would interest them based on knowledge of who they are and what they like. Serve friends by sharing useful or otherwise stimulating content. Never ping folks you don’t really know with content which they may or not give a rat about. Here’s a one I’m bad at: try not to blog angry. You might say stupid things

Kennedy understood that ideas are more powerful than guns for America and that actual power is is deep-rooted in our harmony, optimism and inspiration. Bring more to the table than you take. Ask what you can do for your community.

  • Brian Wallace – NowSourcing

    So now I’ll ask you for votes all the time :)

    Just kidding – great post Marty! A bit soul searching and good insight.

  • Jeff Quipp

    Thank you Marty! You’ve been a great friend and inspiration this whole time. You’re certainly right about the commitment part … so its definitely earned.

    Yeah … about the voting thing. Are you on Digg :) (hehe)

  • Marty Weintraub

    @ Brian: I vote for your stuff anyway
    @ Jeff: Thanks, we value our relationship with you and your posse.

  • Charlie Anzman

    Jeff has a posse? Good piece Marty. I guess a reality check is in order here to as both you and Jeff are also giving A LOT of time on Sphinn. More importantly … they’re ‘informed’ Sphinns ….

  • Michael D

    This was a spectacular post Marty. I can identify very strongly with quite a few of the things you said. Excellent!

  • Marty Weintraub

    @ Michael: Thank you so much.

  • Shana Albert (TheNanny612)

    Wow, Marty. You have written some amazing posts in the past, but this one has got to be my favorite so far. And, I’m proud to be part of the same community as you and even more so… your friend. :-)

    Shana

  • Marty Weintraub

    @ Shana: Thanks friend.

  • Mark Dykeman

    Hello Marty, I believe that this is the first time that I’ve read or commented on your blog.

    You and Tamar both bring great value to the communities that you “live” in. I wish I had had the benefit of reading articles like the ones written by Tamar (and yourself, I wager) when I started to explore the user created content world. I had selfish aims in the beginning (i.e. self-promotion but, more importantly, revenue) and while I still have some selfish aims, I’ve “gotten religion” about the important of collaboration, contribution, and community. There are a lot of cliches that I could use to describe that, but I suspect that most of your readers know what I’m talking about already.

    Don’t give up on the nincompoops, though. Instead of ostracizing them, should we instead put our arm around their shoulders and try to sell them on the value of sincerity and following the guidelines of social media fair play? Maybe I’m being an optimist… but I would like to think that a strong community should have some forgiveness and understanding, especially those of us who’ve made our own mistakes and have learned better. Maybe we should consider this because it would serve two important purposes: grow the community in a positive way; and reduce the nincompoop population.

    I wrote a short article a few weeks ago suggesting the idea of “social media apprenticeship” – maybe that’s an idea worth considering. I can provide the link if you wish.

    Kudos to you for finding a powerful quote from outside the blogging world that perfectly summarizes your message.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @ Mark: First, welcome and thanks for your thoughtful comment. Please feel free to drop the link for our readers. Use anchor text please as opposed as a long link. “a strong community should have some forgiveness and understanding” = well said :)

    Again, thanks and welcome.

  • Steven C

    Marty,

    Another A+ post, I really enjoyed it !
    have a “spinning good” weekend
    Steven C.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Chris: beat you 2 it…David S is my phriend. :)

  • David Temple

    Nice Marty. I totally agree, “Social media mirrors physical life”. In physical life there are givers and takers. And it seems to me, the givers get so much more out of life than the takers.

  • Marty Weintraub

    @David: Yup

  • Mike – Twenty Steps

    I’m on the verge of ditching a couple of “friends” who bombard me with requests to vote up their commercial projects. They tend to cover subjects that I have no interest in and, as you say Marty, they never deem any of my own stuff worthy of a Digg, Sphinn, Stumble, Whip, Wap or Whop or whatever the latest social votey thing is. Grrrr…..

  • Marty Weintraub

    @Mike: It’s important to clean house from time to time..