You Can’t Own the Community Without Understanding Them

Clueless WomanFor some people, the lessons of SMX Social Media did not resonate. There really is one takeaway that doesn’t seem to be widely understood:

Understand the community. Know who you’re pitching to. Know what you’re getting into.

There’s a clear misconception that because you can contact all your friends and have them game the social news networking sites, you can submit content that doesn’t suit the community at all, instead focusing on self-promotional content that deviates from every rule in the book.

I don’t consider myself a rockstar. I do, however, feel that I have a better understanding of the community to which I submit stories because I am not only submitting stories: I am actively engaging in the community. I am commenting. I am studying what’s been successful and what hasn’t been. It’s a completely different mindset than I had when I started using these social networks — simply because I had not given the networks and the users within a chance.

When I spoke at SMX, I clearly articulated that I’ve Dugg over 18,000 stories. That number is now over 20,000. In other words, if you’re going to simply submit your own stories, vote your friends’ stories, and never actually know what the community wants, the chances of your success get minimized. You need to look at the stories that are submitted on a regular basis to understand what works and what doesn’t. Furthermore, to those who are aware of your actions and know of your affiliations, you look like an obvious gamer. Fifty Diggs in two hours is not practical unless you’re Engadget, Gizmodo, Tuaw, or have some serious breaking news to address. Your story on StumbleUpon won’t get 50 Diggs in 2 hours even if you’re giving away its source code.

Did I not say that social media is a time investment? It is, my friends. You’re not supposed to simply invest time in asking your friends to promote your stories. You have to be a community participant with people beyond your circle of friends. You have to be involved with it and understand the culture.

If you simply engage in spamming your friends with vote requests, it clearly shows that you won’t understand social media–unless you are ready to understand the community of people who participate in it on a regular basis. “Networking,” as you call it, and becoming a “rockstar,” does not happen just because someone knows a few people. It happens because these individuals have had determination and spend a considerable amount of time engaged in the sphere. If you’re looking for the same kind of success, perhaps you should too.


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