Ever stop and think for a moment on how so many different aspects of life resemble that of a game? Back on October 23rd, 2007, Wired magazine published an article entitled, When Reality Feels Like Playing a Game, A New Era Has Begun. The consensus of the article highlighted the fact that in this new era, we use game models to motivate ourselves, to answer questions, and to find creative solutions. The game in this case though is blogging.
For many, life itself has turned into a game. Our online lives are just twists on the videogame leaderboards, where we jockey to get our blog a higher rank on Technorati and compete to acquire more friend-adds on MySpace than the next guy.
During my one year blogging experiment, my opinion was that services such as Digg, Stumbleupon and Reddit existed on a basis where end users would submit items that were either helpful or mildly interesting, to the point that it was worth sharing. During the experiment, I had published over 600 different posts. Some of them had been submitted to Stumbleupon, Digg and other social services without me ever asking for someone to do so. I thought this was common practice and a means of respecting the way in which these services were supposed to be used.
I have in fact stumbled my own posts, submitted some of my own articles to digg and have submitted the stories to various social media services. None of my submissions produced an abundant amount of traffic. However, when someone other than myself would do the submission for me, I noticed a large increase in traffic. I’ve determined that the most likely reason for this is the fact that I have not built power profiles on the social media websites that my content shows up on. I barely have any friends on Stumbleupon, I barely use Digg, and I just recently signed up to Reddit. This means I am a nobody. Those who have submitted my articles to these services have a good amount of friends as part of their user profile which is why I believe those submissions have been more successful. I also believe it doesn’t help that the submission is labeled as being submitted by me and if you were to do a little research, you could easily determine that I was in the mood for a little self-promotion.
However, I have noticed that outside of personal blogging, those who blog for revenue or are trying to get their blog/blog network to the top has to in my opinion break the rules of the game. I’ve seen people begging for Diggs, asking people to submit articles they have written to StumbleUpon, getting hundreds of their friends to Digg an article or get it to the top of Reddit.
My way of thinking about this situation is this. If the content I published was good enough, someone out their would do the work for me in terms of submitting the site to a social service. If the content was not good enough, nothing would happen. Now, I’ve seen the light, where people digging this story because that person digged their own story, with this person submitting a site to StumbleUpon because they had a friend who submitted their own site to StumbleUpon.
What is also interesting to note is the business of social media promotion which has sprung up around the blogosphere. There are services that exist on the web in which you can hire to handle social media campaigns. This area of promotion is called SMM or Social Media Marketing. I don’t want to publish the name of the company, but here is an example of what a SMM campaign is like.
In recent years social news sites such as stumbleupon.com, reddit.com and digg.com have become widely popular – displaying billions of daily page views. We will make sure your news item is available on all major social news sites. This is something that we do manually and with great care as these sites do not allow any automated systems. Once your news item is posted there it becomes searchable and available for audiences to interact with and contribute to.
So if you can’t seem to get people to submit your articles, and you are not having any luck submitting the articles yourself, companies exist in which they will make it their mission to spread your content across the web through social media. Performancing.com being one such company ( Performancing Social Media Marketing )
This brings me to my next set of questions. Is there a difference between content submitted to these sites by end users versus companies which have been hired to do so? Does it matter to you as a user of these services that the content may not have been submitted by a user but instead, is part of a large advertising campaign?
I’ve talked to a number of people about this situation and this is what I’ve been told. This is the name of the game. In order to get to the top, above the noise, you have to bend and at times break the rules. But is it considered breaking the rules when this has become a standard practice? Apparently, probloggers all the way down to the personal blogger are using various methods to get their content on these major traffic producing services. I’ve been told that there is nothing wrong with asking people to digg/stumble/reddit content. I can sort of agree with that. But I see a number of people acting in a scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours type of fashion, regardless of the content. I’ve also been told that the algorithms for these types of sites are built to detect the worthless crap that has been added to the site, allowing for only the valuable stuff to be seen.
So what are the rules of the game? When is it considered breaking the rules? When you play the game of blogging, how do you know if you have advanced to the next level?