There are at least a few sensitive issues involving social media marketing. Submitting your own posts is one of them, and asking friends for votes is definitely another. If you’ve been around social media and blogging for a while, you’ve probably received a request from someone at some point to digg a submission or give a thumbs up on StumbleUpon.
Most social media sites provide an official feature to allow sharing of links (such as Digg’s shout system or StumbleUpon’s share feature). Those features certainly do get used, but many bloggers prefer to send an email (or IM) to a friend rather than using a share feature. The share functions are not always the most user-friendly, and legitimate requests can sometimes get lost in the spam. Plus, social media sites can track what links are shared this way, and they can adjust the algorithm, which makes a vote for a shared link less significant.
Some bloggers are hesitant to ask friends for a vote through an official share feature or by email. Some others will use one approach but not the other. Those who don’t share their own links with friends typically don’t do so because they feel like they’ll be annoying others, and in some cases this is true.
Through my first few months of blogging I never asked anyone for a social media vote, partly because I didn’t have much of a network at that point, and partly because I didn’t want to bother anyone. As I started building a network I also started getting emails from other bloggers requesting a vote. I realized that I was actually happy to help those who I liked and the content that I felt was worthy, so I figured that other bloggers may also feel the same way. Now I do request votes from friends (using official share features and email), and I regularly get requests from friends.
5 Tips for Sharing Links with Friends
1 – Don’t overkill
This can be difficult because we all have a different opinion of how much is too much. My rule of thumb is don’t send more requests to anyone than you would like to receive from them. Obviously, sending too many requests will hurt those friendships that you’ve developed and you’ll seem like you’re only interested in your own gain.
2 – Send to those that you have a real relationship with
With most social media sites it’s pretty easy to build up a big list of “friends” that don’t really know you, and you don’t know them. From my experience, your requests will be more effective and more welcome if you have a genuine relationship with others. I’m not saying you should never send a shout on Digg to all of your friends, but think about who you’re making requests to, and evaluate the relationship. Maybe they also send you links and you’re both fine with not having a real connection, but this won’t be the case with every social media user.
3 – Offer to return the favor
If you’re going to request votes from others, you should also be willing to vote for them when their content is worthy. If you’re requesting links and not willing to return the favor when it is justified, you will not be making too many long-term friends.
4 – Do it when it will make a difference
My advice is to save your requests for when they will have a significant impact. If getting 2 or 3 diggs to a submission isn’t going to make a real difference, wait until you have a submission that just needs a little final push. With this approach your requests will be more effective and it will keep you from going overboard requesting votes to every post.
5 – Promote only quality content
This should go without saying, but don’t ask others to vote for something that isn’t worthy of a vote. Most of us take some pride in what we vote for, so don’t put your friends in an awkward position where they want to help you, but they don’t want to vote for something that is sub-par. If you follow tip #4, this should be automatic.
What’s Your Opinion?
Do you get requests from your friends? If so, what’s your feeling on the situation, and do you also ask for votes on your own submissions? Do you prefer to use the official features on social media sites, or do you like to use email or IM?