Monday, October 15, 2007

The World Continues To Be Unsure Of How To Use Blogs And Pudding Cups

Some of today's readings make that all too clear.

Dosh Dosh writes The Smart Way to Get Traffic and Links: Creating a Prospect List for Bloggers, which is rather sound overall. A decent primer. However, I express caution over the suggest use of reciprocity:

The second reason for maintaining a prospect list is reciprocation. A lot of the cross-promotion you see online is the result of intentional reciprocation; doing something for someone because he or she did something for you.

Reciprocation is a basic aspect of culture and society. It pervades all human relationships and influences it tremendously. We may do something for someone with the hope (conscious or not) that someone may repay the favor in the future.

Cialdini’s rule of reciprocity explains:

This rule requires that one person try to repay what another person has provided. By obligating the recipient to an act of repayment in the future–the rule for reciprocation allows one individual to give something to another with the confidence that it is not being lost.

The decision to comply with someone’s request is frequently based upon the Rule of Reciprocity. Again, a possible and profitable tactic to gain probable compliance would be to give something to someone before asking for a favor in return.

Keeping a prospect list helps you to systematically record and reciprocate favors done for you, which dramatically improves the quality of the relationship you have.

This will help you to gradually turn bloggers into friends and future assets you can leverage for your business/website.

I believe that if you act as if a person 'owes you' or must 'repay' a debt, you'll not only be sorely disappointed, but aggravate others.

First and foremost you ought to be writing to and for your audience, not for a twisted case of I-owe-you ~ or in this case, You Owe Me.

Write with your audience in mind, link with your readership's interests in mind. Don't tell them about things which are unrelated to their needs and wants because you want to make the cool list or be invited to sit at the cool kids' table. Boing Boing is cool, but this blog isn't on their watch list ~ and why should it be? So no matter how often or in what context I link to them, contact them, The Marketing Whore is not going to get a post or a sidebar link.

Writing a post to get their attention (which I am not doing ~ look ma, no link!) is a waste of my time. Sending my readers, readers who are interested in marketing, is literally a time waster (a cool way to waste time, but wasting time nonetheless).

And just like those kids who bring extra pudding cups to school to try to get 'in' with the cool kids, no one falls for your clever pandering. They'll just take your pudding-cup-of-a-link and (at best) ignore you.

As a general rule we don't eat the pudding cups proffered by strangers. Take them, maybe; but eat them? No. Once we know a person, we'll take and eat their pudding cup ~ and thank them for it too. After awhile, we'll share our own pudding cups with them or even buy their other pudding products. But first we have to know them. It's no different here on the Internet. Links are like pudding cups. But consider them gifts to your readers who like you already ~ and want your pudding cups. First you must be known.

You can introduce yourself with a pudding cup (a link), an email, a comment post etc. But just as with any real world introduction, audition, job interview, etc., this doesn't mean they will like you or be willing to share their own pudding cups.

If you'd like to give a link introduction, you should read Ethical Theories of Social Networking ~ which isn't about MySpace so much as it is about proper participation in the blogging community.

Revellian's tips for how to properly link (especially with regards to key words etc.) is another good primer for giving good pudding cup. He gives the basics of keyword linking, including the 'how to' and 'why' which provides the foundation for best practices which are appreciated by other bloggers. (Which is like sharing pudding cups with your real friends, not giving them away to buy a friendship.)

Should you, dear reader, already be aware of such things I ask you to read it anyway ~ for two reasons.

One, key word linking works for both parties (the poster has those words on his/her blog as well as offers such key word weight to the blog they are sending readers too).

And two, thinking in terms of key words helps you evaluate if your linking is honestly relative to your readers &/or mission.

Consider your link text. If you find those key words irrelevant to your readership (target market), then perhaps this is not the right post for you. You could be wasting your efforts and your pudding cups.

Give your readers the pudding cups they want.

And don't forget to read When Does a Social Network Become a "Publicity Network"? for a great reminder on what social networks are (and are not).

A social networking tool becomes a publicity tool when "I speak, you speak, I reply, you reply" becomes "I speak, you listen".

Are these new publicity networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) the new press release? Think about it for a second, a press release is sent out to x journalists, news providers, etc. These new publicity networks do the same thing except in a quicker, more efficient way. In fact, Marshall over at RWW says these publicity networks are paying his rent. Naturally I am not suggesting that everyone uses these networks in a publicity-oriented manner, but it seems many of the smart marketers are doing so. As long as the people attached to your account (personal or business) understand that's the use, then it's a perfect marketing opportunity. In fact, these publicity networks may just overtake RSS in the long-term. And if you are working with a social media consultant who isn't leveraging these new publicity networks where appropriate, you need to find a new consultant.
While Allen Stern seems to contradict himself a bit in this post, if you read careful (and tread even more carefully) you'll learn a thing or two. Especially when added to the thoughts above. That community exists for them, and it may seem natural to scream, "Come take my pudding cups!" ~ but as discussed, it isn't appropriate. Or effective.

Or everyone would give away free pudding cups with purchase.

Keep your audience, your target market, in mind. Your mission is not really to sell 10,000 copies, memberships etc; it is to serve 10,000 people. How can you reach them to do this is marketing.

Always keep the concerns and needs of your audience forefront in your mind and you'll make less of an ass of yourself. And save a few pudding cups for yourself.

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