What I love about writing If Emily Posted is the way conversations about blog ethics can clear the elephants in the ether. Sometimes there are rules in place that just need defining. Other times, many times, things don’t fit into tidy boxes we can call good or bad. But we still need to talk about them.
When I’m asked about self-promotion, if I think the way people reach out asking for likes, follows or +K’s are OK, my feelings are mixed. Self-promotion is a good thing, but we need to give if we want to receive.
Most successful bloggers get to where they are there by a ton of hard work and commitment. That said, most bloggers do not have PR backgrounds.
Campaigns to win competitions or gain Facebook fans are usually grassroots ones – and some are put together better than others. And the way they’re executed can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Competitiveness, envy, and asking for more than is given in return can take something positive and turn it upside down.
Just as I believe we must, as Deb Rox says, OWN THE BRAG, I think we need to TAKE THE SHAME OUT OF SELF-PROMOTION.
promotion: the act of furthering the growth or development of something; especially : the furtherance of the acceptance and sale of merchandise through advertising, publicity, or discounting (via Merriam-Webster)
You and me? We’re the merchandise. Blogs are a medium by which we share our work.
The key to making it shameless is how we relate to one another. How we give and receive. And we have plenty of social media tools to help us.
Pinterest and Facebook – we work for them as marketing tools. The perks in return include ways to connect with others and, yes, self-promote.
As many concerns as I’ve voiced about the ethics of Pinterest, their “no self-promotion” rule never quite made sense to me. The moment someone adds their URL to a Pinterest profile isn’t that self-promotion? People follow you because they like what you pin – and they just might visit your site as a result. The same goes for Instagram where people who like the way you capture the world just might end up on the URL you include in your profile. On both platforms, adding your URL is optional. In doing so, you advertise yourself. Where’s the shame in that?
As for the tweets and posts asking for likes and follows and votes? There’s nothing wrong with asking for the support of your community. But it’s important to make sure this is about building relationships, not just popularity contests. And quality over quantity.
There is no perfect equation, but I think the 8 in 10 rule works beautifully (thanks to my friend Anile for sharing this). If 80% of what you share is engaging and interactive, you’ll give people more than enough reason to check out the self-promoting links you share the other 20% of the time – be it asking for a like on Facebook, sharing a post, or hoping to reach your 2000th follower by midnight.
Facebook pages are a bit different. I often refer to twitter as a cocktail party while Facebook is more like a monologue on open mic night. You’ll find that those who regularly interact with their followers, and offer content not found on their blogs usually have more likes. But the 8 in 10 rule doesn’t hold true in the same way.
Remember that quality over quantity is important. You can work to gather all the followers in the blogosphere, but if the quality of your content isn’t there, they’ll stop following. On every network.
RULE: In general, you can’t ask for likes or followers as grounds for entry in a giveaway on your blog. Your giveaway could face potential legal ramifications if you do. (Please check out this great piece by attorney Sara Hawkins to learn more.)
Promoting yourself is an important part of blogging, but so is reciprocating. While it’s nice to be important, it’s important to be nice. And this is why I’m becoming a fan of Klout.
Is it strange if people tweet asking to be given +K? At the very least, it’s awkward. (Unless it’s +K in asking for people to give you compliments.)
I think we can use Klout to give back. I don’t know about you, but I don’t leave 1/10th the number of comments I could. And considering that this great wide web is filling our lives with great information and inspiration, the least we could do is say thank you. Whether you tweet or post about it, well, that’s up to you.
I’ve begun sending a +K when someone has given me info on a topic that has helped me. I want them to know that what they do has value to me. I think it also shows them where their strength lies beyond the controversial Klout algorithm.
And the next time you see someone tweet asking for everyone to give them something, before you judge, ask yourself what you’ve done for anyone else online lately?