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The Currency of Social Networks

Posted on Nov 27th, 2007
Written by Lee Odden
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    About 2-3 times a day a pitch comes in via email, Facebook message or other means asking for a mention or a link. Some are cut and paste pitches from PR reps, some are from companies trying to promote their own message and some are from industry associates that feel they have something special to share.

    Even when an announcement seems interesting, more often than not a post won’t be created for it since Online Marketing Blog doesn’t really cover industry news. Unless it’s a topic that’s spot on and can help fortify a post that’s already in the works, there’s little if any chance of getting covered. As much as I’d like to give a mention and a link, I normally don’t. However if it’s really good, I do something much better.

    Links are important, no doubt, but if you get the attention of an enthusiastic social networker, would you rather have a single mention/link or an endorsement to their network?

    To be sure, getting that single link is a certainty that can send traffic and offer a signal to search engines. However, getting your resource introduced to a social network via bookmarking, posting, news submission or other means can mean a boost in credibility by association as well as links from multiple bloggers that see it.

    A direct pitch to bloggers via email isn’t the only way to get a blogger’s attention. For example, Monday I noticed visitors to Online Marketing Blog from a recent article posted by Aaron and Giovanna Wall, “The Blogger’s Guide to SEO“. After reading it and liking it, I immediately bookmarked it to Del.icio.ous and posted to my Facebook network of 420+. Aaron and Giovanna certainly didn’t need my help promoting the article, but I can’t imagine it hurt getting exposure to another influential network. Plus, that network was exposed to a really useful resource.

    While it may seem I’ve made the case for those pitching stories and link requests to shift efforts to asking for an announcement of their cause to our social networks, it’s not. This is simply an explanation why we don’t take so many of the good story ideas and resource tips we get and make “links” posts with them or news posts. If they’re really useful, they’ll get shared with our networks which is likely worth far more than a mention and a link in a single blog post.

    Building networks is an investment in time, energy and when you factor in offline networking costs of going to conferences, a lot of money. From both a personal and a marketing perspective, social networks are only as valuable as the value you bring to the community. Jepordizing that by sharing information and resources that don’t really offer value will only alienate network members. “Poof” goes the social and marketing value if you start to get too “marketey” on your network.

    The best insurance towards helping great content travel to social media and networking sites is to build your own network and share relevant content that offers value. Making it easy for strangers that find your content via search to share and save is also helpful. Look for more than just a passing mention or a link by offering truly relevant and unique resources. That content will travel as far as it is useful.

    If you’re in the media, blogger or “influencer” relations business, that means including with your pitch, links to resources that include easy to bookmark/share buttons. Let the recipient make their own decision to pass it on, but make it easy for them too.