I am thoroughly disenchanted with "social media". I actually started feeling this way before I read Getting Creative With Your Content where James Chartrand complained:
I've been feeling the same way. I'm fed up with "me too" posts, "Subscribe and get a free..", "Build anticipation", "Increase your social media contacts" and all that.. so many people parroting the same vapid advice. But mostly what is getting under my skin is this whole "Social Media" thing: Digg, Technorati, StumbleUpon, Sphere.. all of it.
Here's why: recently Skellie of skelliewag.com wrote a guest post at ProBlogger entitled How to Write Posts That Set StumbleUpon on Fire. There's nothing wrong with Skellie's post. The suggestions are valid and they would work. I'm not complaining about the post per se: it's just reporting on reality.
The main suggestions are summarized at the end of the post. I'll reproduce them here for your convenience:
(these are from Skellie's post referenced above)
- Start using StumbleUpon and voting up content from other blogs and websites in your niche.
- Friend those who Stumble your articles and thank them. This will start a dialog that could turn them into a loyal reader of your blog.
- Write about SU and encourage readers to add you as a friend.
- Swap Stumbles with other bloggers.
- Link to your SU profile on your About page.
- Befriend active StumbleUpon users and stumble and review some of their content if they have a blog or website. Active users command more traffic and they’re more likely to repay the favor because they’re Stumbling all the time anyway!
- Add a Stumble button/link under each of your posts.
- Add a Stumble link to your Feedflare (find it in your Feedburner control panel).
Notice this: nothing there implies that the content you bless with your Stumble vote has to be unusually good. Now of course you wouldn't "vote up" pure crap - but you can hardly wait for true excellence, can you? No, you'll vote for "acceptable", anything reasonably not junk.. and you'll expect your mediocre efforts to get the same votes in return..
Don't believe people do this? Do a Google search for "swap stumbles" and "swap diggs".
Point of reference: I've written a little less than 6,000 articles for this site. A handful have attracted attention on StumbleUpon or Digg. A small handful at that. Those posts weren't voted up because somebody owed me tit for tat: these were honest appraisals of value devoid of motive. But it's just a handful, just a very few.
And that's exactly as it should be, right? Nobody hits home runs every time at bat, but in the new world juiced by social media, you can bat 1,000 with the help of your pals.. all it requires is that you help them as they help you.
The system stinketh unto heaven.
I used to use StumbleUpon to find good content. I don't bother any more, because it's now full of ho-hum content. Not "bad" content, but not exceptional. Not good enough for StumbleUpon to remain of interest to me.
Again, please understand that I am NOT saying StumbleUpon or Digg or any of the others are full of junk. I'm simply pointing out that gaming the system as is now common practice produces mediocrity. I also realize the increase in Internet users, the democratization that began around 1995 or so and brought illiterates of all stripes into a world that formerly belonged exclusively to geeks; that growth has quite naturally lowered standards. What I'd consider a very basic and unnecessary "Unix shell" article is apt to be seen as major geekery by a large number of current Netizens. That devaluation is somewhat inevitable, but social media boosts that trend to new heights - or actually new lows, from my point of view.
O Tempora! O Mores! Yes, the grumpy old geek is bitching about how the old days were so much better. Put a cork in it, Gramps..
Ok, fine. But I'm simply stating the truth: these mutual stroking arrangements are not as satisfactory as the real thing: organic linking to valuable and truly interesting content.
That DOESN'T mean there isn't good stuff posted. It doesn't mean there is less good stuff than there used to be. It doesn't mean that somebody with a lot of Stumbled pages doesn't actually have a few gems with in them.
And it doesn't mean that you or Joe P. Blow doesn't think carefully about their votes and promote content that actually is superlative. But it is obvious that a lot of people are trading favors and voting up content that never should be promoted.
That's my opinion, anyway. Please don't Stumble or Digg this post. Seriously - it's not of interest to the social media promoters and will only tick them off. We'll get hundreds of insipid comments from troglodytes who haven't read the actual post and wouldn't understand it if they did.
In fact, as of this minute I'm removing all those "Stumble this" links and others that used to be here. I do not want to be part of any of that nonsense any more.
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