September 1, 2014

Is Self Submission Really that Bad?

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.

About Steven Snell

Steven is a web designer, blogger, and freelance writer.

14 comments

  1. “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.”

    I really think you summed it up best right there. I have a somewhat smaller blog (155 RSS now) and while I believe most of my content is great, if no one will submit it than why shouldn’t I be able to?

    What I do is only submit my VERY best stuff. So that people can see I’ve recently submitted or reviewed like 40 pages of other people’s content on SU and only one to two of those were from me.

    At the same time, I believe the idea that it’s bad to submit your own content is only relevant to certain niches. Wouldn’t you agree?

    I think it’s acceptable to submit in some niches and not in others.

  2. I try not too as often as possible. I had one client that had no digg exposure what so ever. We got them on the homepage about 5 times and now people are submitting their content on a daily basis. It’s all about branding and getting a quality site out there.

  3. Hey Steven, thanks for the appreciation, feedback and elaboration on my post. Take note though that my post is basically a follow up to the “secret of SEO 2.0″ post where I explain why you do not have to self submit and how else it could work.
    That said your opinion makes perfectly sense, it just leaves out one crucial aspect: New blogs and bloggers do not have to rely on self submission either. In fact in my early days of SEO 2.0 I was hugely popular on StumbleUpon due to other people submitting my stuff. Nowadays I get each and every post stumbled but back then it already worked for the best posts. It help me to identify what works on SU so that I don’t even target SU in many cases anymore I just have built in incentives for SU users in every post.
    Self submission of course is not seen the same everywhere and I even self submit sometimes on Sphinn too, I have a ratio of 1:3 to 1:4 on Sphinn I think that means 3 posts of others and one of mine.
    Good to know that self submission is OK on DZone, I never really succeeded there yet.

  4. Chris,
    Sounds like your opinion is very similar to mine.

    Glen,
    I agree that it’s best not to self submit and I’m not surprised by the results of your client. Obviously the front page appearances that you got for the client should have brought some Digg users to the site as regular readers. Thanks for sharing the experience.

    Tad,
    Sorry, I should have included that your post was a follow up to the other one. I basically just sat down and typed my thoughts quickly and published, so I apologize that was left out. I agree with you that new bloggers don’t have to really on self submission, but it’s much easier that way. If someone is able to do well without self submission that’s great, but I’m not going to say that someone else shouldn’t do it. Good point about being able to learn more by not self submitting. That is very true.

  5. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with self submission as long as it’s done in moderation. If you submit a crappy post yes it will hurt your blog in the long run, but as you mentioned, if it’s a genuinely great article then I say self-submit.

  6. I discovered Tad’s blog (and read his self-submission article) and subscribed to it a few minutes before reading this post on your blog. Serendipity!

    When I started my blog earlier this year I submitted some (not all) early posts to Stumbleupon but now I won’t self submit to SU and I find that readers are submitting them for me instead, so that’s working. What’s most interesting (in terms of this discussion) is that the greatest amount of traffic from SU comes as a result of a post I self-submitted in July. That would suggest that if people like the content of a blog post enough then they won’t be concerned that it was self-submitted (so long as you don’t overdo it, of course).

  7. I am still not not overly comfortable with self submissions direct to the various sites. I think I feel i still have a way to go in proving myself, posts that are readable and a site that is interesting.

    What I do do however is use Twitter to send a message about a new post. It just says a new post is available, I don’t ask for anything. This I find then helps spread the word and I now find that they are being submitted to say Stumble or bookmarked on Delicious if a reader feels its necessary. So there is a very subtle ‘push’ as most people who are following you on Twitter tend to get the ‘hidden message’. The re-tweets then spread the message even further and so on…

    But then we get into the realms of posts being submitted JUST because, rather than on quality. But that’s another story.
    :)

    Graham

  8. I followed your link from SEO 2.0 where I was feeling quite discouraged because I had submitted some articles to social sites. I was feeling like I was now an evil person that should be shunned. I have read other blogs saying to submit your content. So I followed their advice. Now I am confused and feel paralyzed, affraid to submit, concerned that nobody will read my articles if I don’t…

    I feel that your opinion is more factual based and less fueled by personal emotion on the subject. So I thank you for that. Your article was more enlightening and makes me want to take a closer look before submitting my own articles rather than categorically stating that I am a jerk if I do so. (Though I don’t think that is what Tad was intending to say) At least for now I feel that I can submit articles at least until I have more than my current 20 subscribers. haha!

    So again thanks for posting a more relevant followup article.

  9. Mark,
    I wouldn’t feel bad about submitting your own content, but be careful where you do it and how often you do it. If you do it too much it can be frowned upon more so than if you just submit the best stuff. Like I said in the post, I tend to submit to niche sites where it doesn’t seem to be an issue. You just have to be active and the sites and you should get a feel for what’s acceptable and what’s not.

  10. I agree that submitting your own stuff does look bad.

    BUT if nobody is reading your stuff AND your a new blogger–go ahead and submit it.

    Besides, the more you submit your stuff on SU, the less effective it becomes.

    Matt

  11. I used StumbleUpon to generate a constant stream of traffic to my new blog – http://probablysucks.com in just over 1 week of operating, I’ve received over 3,000 visits and a majority of it is StumbleUpon, some of it is surprisingly Google searches as well.

    I don’t think self-submitting is that bad, look at me. I’m doing pretty well for only being an actual blog for just over a week now.

  12. Articles also play some part in internet marketing. As articles are read by visitors there are more chances for visitors coming to the sites. Articles should be relevant to the theme of the site

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