Earlier today I read a new post at SEO 2.0 called 7 Ways Self Submission Hurts Yourself on Social Media. First of all, if you’re not already familiar with Tad’s blog I highly recommend that you get acquainted with it. Tad has a very unique approach to SEO and social media blogging and his posts are entertaining and insightful (observant readers may notice the link to SEO 2.0 in my friends list).
That said, I don’t completely agree with this recent post and I thought it was worth covering my response here in a full post rather than just a comment on the original post.
Self submission at social media sites is certainly can be a touchy subject. Some feel that you should never submit your own content, and others do it on a regular basis. My opinion is that self submission is not the same in every case. I agree with the basic premise of Tad’s article that self submission can look selfish and counterproductive to the intent of social media, but I think there is a bigger picture that should be considered in each situation.
On major social media sites like Digg and StumbleUpon self submission is frowned upon more so that it is at other sites. Smaller, niche sites generally have a tighter community that is more concerned with networking and sharing good content and less concerned with users gaming the system. Digg and StumbleUpon are such traffic beasts that thousands of people are willing to do whatever they can to get some of that traffic. With niche sites this really isn’t the case, so users seem to be more open to self submission if the content is high quality. That is a key distinction. The quality must be there or self submission will be seen as spam at any social media site, and it must also be relevant to the audience of the site.
With smaller niche sites, if the blogger doesn’t self submit it’s less likely that anyone else will do so. If a reader is going to submit the content anywhere it’s probably going to be Digg or SU. Maybe the content would be really appreciated by the audience of a niche site, but they are likely to never see it without self submission. A few months ago there was a submission to DZone, a niche site that I visit almost daily, that questioned the site’s users as to how they felt about self submissions on the site. At the time I saw the post there were about 30 comments from DZone users, and not one of them said that self submission should not happen. The overwhelming majority said if it’s good, go ahead and submit it.
Another major factor that I think should be considered in this discussion is the dilemma of the new blogger. If a blog is brand new and has virtually no readers, who is going to submit it to social media sites? The content may be great, but if no one’s seeing it the content will do no good. New bloggers need to be seen somehow, and social media is a great vehicle for this.
Although I stopped Stumbling my posts at Vandelay Design about a year ago, I did Stumble some of my initial posts here at Traffikd when it launched. I wanted the blog to get off to a good start, and then once I had established a bit of an audience I stopped Stumbling my posts here. (Coincidentally, two months ago when I launched DesignM.ag I decided not to Stumble any of my own posts.)
I can’t blame a new blogger for submitting their own posts as long as it’s worthy of the exposure. Self submission isn’t against the terms of service of any social media site (that I’m aware of).
At niche social media sites, the quantity and quality of content submitted would drop off substantially without self submissions. I visit Design Float on a daily basis, and many of the popular items are self submissions (including mine). Many of the users of these sites are at least in part motivated by their own interests, and without being allowed to self submit they may not even visit the site in the first place.
I have a community news section at DesignM.ag that readers seem to like. For the news, readers can submit a link to a post that they think is worthy some attention, and about 90% are self submissions. Without self submissions the news would be much less effective and very little would be shared. This isn’t exactly the same situation, but it’s similar.
In the context of social media sites, I’d rather have someone openly submit their own quality content rather than creating a fake account to hide their identity or have to always email a friend to submit it for them. The bottom line is if someone really wants their content to be submitted they could go about it any number of ways, why not just be open about it?
The Keys to Self Submission
My opinion comes down to the fact that the content submitted must be quality and the user should be an active part of the community. If you’re not voting on the submission of others, visiting the submissions, and interacting with other users, don’t submit your own content.
In general I agree with Tad that it’s best to have the content submitted naturally by someone unrelated to you, but I don’t think this is feasible in every situation. In my opinion, it’s not selfish if you’re a real part of the community that contributes in other ways.
What are Your Thoughts?
Please share your experiences and opinions in the comments, and don’t forget to read Tad’s post if you haven’t already.