Publishes August 8, 2008

“Should I write pieces made for the front page?”

“Should I spend more time on StumbleUpon?”

“Can Twitter seriously do my blog any good?”

“What about Reddit? And what the hell is Sphinn?”

If I go four waking hours between hearing one of these questions from a home business client, it must be a religious holiday. Everybody wants to know about social media. But they don’t want to know just anything about social media.

They want to know what they’re doing wrong.

They’re doing all the right things. They’re getting involved in the community. They’re putting all the right buttons in all the right places. They’re networking. They’re making friends. They’re voting up other people’s content. They’re doing everything they were told to do.

So why is nothing happening?

Even a few months ago, your article would get Stumbled. You’d get a few thumbs up. You’d feel pretty good. Your article would get 5,000 visitors in a day.

Today, a comparable article gets Stumbled. You get a few thumbs up. You feel pretty good. Your website gets a few visitors. You get a few more thumbs up. Your article gets 5,000 visitors in a month.

What happened?

What nobody’s talking about is that you’re not doing anything wrong. The rules got changed and we didn’t get the memo.

So who changed the rules? We did.

We exploited the loopholes.

Let’s imagine you find an IRS loophole. You make a killing, and then you tell everyone you can find — you want to be seen as an expert, after all. “What a cool idea!” they say, and they try it themselves. They tell all their friends. Some get in themselves, some don’t, but soon enough, the IRS catches on.

If one or two people exploit an IRS loophole, it becomes the IRS’s dirty little secret. Not worth the time and money to fix it. When dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of people exploit the same loophole — especially after the originals publicly broadcasted how they made their killing — it becomes worth it, and the loophole gets shut.

No killing for you. You lose.

Digg made headlines in January when they changed their algorithm, insisting on a diversity requirement for submissions to succeed. Why did they do that? Because we tried to screw the system. We said, “Hey! If I get 200 people to Digg all my stuff, I’ll be on the front page every day. I’ll be the Social Media King of the World!”

Uh, did we seriously think they wouldn’t catch on?

We watered down the hooch.

Let’s say you’re having a party, and you’ve set aside a certain amount of booze for all of your guests. When you have 10 guests, everybody gets happily loaded and goes to bed with the wrong people and the world is as it should be.

But imagine that each of your friends invited 10 of their own friends. Or 100. Or 1,000. Then you’ve got 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 people sharing the original amount of hooch. No-one’s drunk, and everybody’s looking at each other and wondering why.

What the hell did we think was going to happen?

I don’t use StumbleUpon anymore, but I still have the toolbar installed. Clicking “Stumble” three times got me these three cream of the crop websites:

Support Save — “For just $897 per month each, you can have a full-time dedicated employee or team of employees with the skills you need. Your employee(s) will have excellent English skills with almost no accent.”

Franchise Direct — “Franchise Direct’s directory provides you with a wide list of franchises for sale and business opportunities for sale. It represents top franchises and businesses.”

Wikipedia List of Acquisitions by Google — “This is a list of acquisitions by Google, a computer software and an online search engine company. Each acquisition is for the respective company in its entirety, unless otherwise specified.”

Is this seriously the best of the Internet? The best of the best? The crème de la crème? We added shit to the wine and then wondered why the wine tasted like shit.

We didn’t lose the point. We tried to screw the point.

Let’s think about the colloquial definition of “stumble upon”. When you’re going about your business and you STUMBLE UPON something noteworthy, so noteworthy that you think you should tell your friends, you want to have a way to tell them. StumbleUpon gave you the opportunity to do so. The key here was that you were going about your business. Not paying a few thousand bucks to a marketing consultant to pretend like you were going about your business.

How about Digg? According to their website, Digg defines itself like this:

Digg — All News, Videos & Images.

News. Video. Images. Go take a peek at the last thing that you dugg. Was it video? No? Was it an image? No? Was it news? I highly, highly doubt it.

Everybody’s freaking out about the bury brigades, storming around Digg and burying what they believe to be “spam”.

“But it’s not spam!” we scream.

No? Is it news? Would Dan Rather cover it? The New York Times? Hell, Kelly Ripa? USA Today? No? THEN IT’S NOT NEWS AND IT’S NOT FOR DIGG.

What about bookmarking? Remember bookmarking? You’d find something you thought was worth coming back to later, and you bookmarked it. made it possible for that to be web based, so you can access your bookmarks from anywhere. If you wanted, you could even give other people access to your bookmarks and they could check out what you thought was cool.

Then people started writing posts about common factors of articles that made the front page of We noticed the headline tricks and that the number 7 worked in the title and that if we put a “bookmark this” button in our copy, that we could screw the system.

Now the system is screwing us.

Is social media marketing dead? Of course not. Will it ever be the same again? Ditto.


Image credit: freeparking

73 Comments on How We Killed Social Media

  1. Mark Dykeman
    April 4, 2008 at 12:52 pm (9 years ago)

    Unfortunately, your article seems to be describing my own experiences of late.

    I’m thinking about doing cartoons instead of posts. Like XKCD, only without stick figures. Or pictures, for that matter. That would be different. Just word balloons.

  2. Eric
    April 4, 2008 at 1:01 pm (9 years ago)

    Solid post Naomi. You hit the nail on the head.

  3. Jonathan Fields
    April 4, 2008 at 1:02 pm (9 years ago)

    Great post!

    Stumbled and delicioused, heeheehee!

  4. Remarkablogger
    April 4, 2008 at 1:02 pm (9 years ago)

    The internet is really accelerating how marketing ruins everything. I use the term marketing loosely, of course. But it also makes possible real trust, real relationships, real data on reputation.

  5. Sonia Simone
    April 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm (9 years ago)

    This post is so smart.

    Although at my most dizzying pinnacle I never got 5K stumbles in a day. Nonetheless.

    I also find that if I don’t stumble for awhile, the ads get backed up. (People can pay for X number of stumbles for their stuff, which is really sad given the quality of most of what they pay for). So there’s a sort of clog like something nasty in your sewer pipes, that has to get flushed before you get good stumbles again.

  6. kristen
    April 4, 2008 at 1:52 pm (9 years ago)

    Great article. Is it possible that the answer is to stop gaming the system, and just put out the best, most useful content possible on a regular basis?

    Clients used to ask me all the time how they could write content that would include the keywords most frequently searched for on Technorati. Sometimes it’s hard to explain to business people why writing a post about Britney Spears shaving her head isn’t going to help them raise awareness of their product, brand or book. People lose track of the end goal, focus on visibility in the mega-popular mainstream sites, and end up clogging the filters with meaningless filler.

  7. DetroitWriter
    April 4, 2008 at 2:29 pm (9 years ago)

    You perfectly described my frustration with social media. I remember the early days of StumbleUpon…you would hit “Stumble!” and almost be guaranteed something interesting. Now….well, it’s exactly how you said it is.

    I unfortunately work for a company that focuses most of its marketing on gaming social media. All of the writers are required to vote up/digg/stumble submitted articles a certain # of times per month. They’ve hired a couple of well-known social media consultants. They can’t figure out why it’s not working. Shit is still shit, no matter how many diggs/stumbles it gets. People are smart enough to figure it out, and both social media and the company trying to game the system lose out in the end. Social media loses its purity. The companies/bloggers lose any integrity they may have had.

  8. James Chartrand - Men with Pens
    April 4, 2008 at 2:39 pm (9 years ago)

    You should see my traffic line when we get Stumbled these days.

    It. Does. Not. Move.

    It used to fucking spike through the roof and Harry and I would panic. Now we don’t even blink.

    I don’t even know how Digg works. Never bothered to learn; didn’t understand it. Someone asks me to Digg, I read and I may or may not Digg, yes. But beyond that…

    Thing is, we don’t write for social media. We (meaning the Pen Men) write for us first. If WE don’t like what we write, it doesn’t get posted. We write for people second. If THEY don’t come comment, then it wasn’t good. SEO? Nope. There’s barely any on our site and none at all in our content. And votes or Stumbles or Diggs? We still want them and like them, but…


  9. Naomi Dunford
    April 4, 2008 at 2:56 pm (9 years ago)

    Holy comments all of a sudden, Batman! See what happens when I go for lunch?

    Mark Dykeman — Just balloons. I like it. You’ve got something there, I think.

    Eric — Thank you!

    Jon — SCIENCE? You stumbled it in SCIENCE? ‘Take that’, indeed!!! :-)

    Remarkablogger — There is room for that, and you raise a good point. The more shit the rest becomes, the more one has the opportunity to not be shit.

    Sonia — Hmm. I never thought of that! Maybe that’s my problem.

    Kristen — I know! ‘Well, what about Paris Hilton?’ Um, no.

    DetroitWriter — ‘Shit is still shit.’ Abso-LUTELY!

    James — I know. A few hundred from this or a few hundred from that. It all ends up even in the end. I think there’s a difference between writing for SM and trying to game it — not that you are, but you know what I mean. So much garbage. Ugh.

  10. Kristen: “Is it possible that the answer is to stop gaming the system, and just put out the best, most useful content possible on a regular basis?” – pretty much.

    I don’t think we can stop the gaming b/c we’re human and humans play games; but regular, quality content has to be the starting point.

  11. kristen
    April 4, 2008 at 3:51 pm (9 years ago)


    Yeah, I agree you’re right. It’s human to game any system… so long as we realize that gaming the system inappropriately is a waste of time that will backfire & eventually create diminishing returns for everybody.

  12. Brett Legree
    April 4, 2008 at 8:00 pm (9 years ago)

    (Although I don’t have much experience here yet) I would suppose it to be like any market. When it is new, some clever people figure out how to “work the system”. Maybe they also have a real product to sell, or whatever.

    In any case, they do well. Then more people come and work the system. Eventually it all levels out and working the system – while necessary – doesn’t give an unfair advantage (*not* working the system though might put one at a disadvantage).

    Luckily, there are either people who really do have something unique and valuable to offer, and/or the system changes somehow and it starts all over again.

  13. Karl Staib - Your Work Happiness Matters
    April 4, 2008 at 8:40 pm (9 years ago)

    The long tail of social media is getting hard to hold on to, especially if you are late to the game – like me. I’m trying to keep up, but as soon as the tail flicks I’m off chasing it to God knows where. The key is to do what makes you feel good. If you like using Digg then do it, not because some blog told you to.

    I’m still working out my marketing/PR gameplan and the more I understand the more I realize that’s it’s about connecting with the right people. I have become blogger friends with GRS and he put a link on his blog. Just a small paragraph with a link and it sent over 1,500 people my way.

  14. Dave "StumbleDuggSphunnnnnn!" Navarro
    April 4, 2008 at 8:43 pm (9 years ago)

    This is precisely why when I break open the bottle, NO ONE IS INVITED.

    Speaking of …


    Mmm … Guinness … a meal in a glass …

  15. Michael Martine, Blog Consultant
    April 4, 2008 at 10:15 pm (9 years ago)

    One thing I love about Twitter is that spammers and people trying to game it can simply be unfollowed. Funny thing is, it’s EASIER and LESS WORK to just contribute value to the community, and the payback is bigger.

  16. Naomi Dunford
    April 4, 2008 at 10:24 pm (9 years ago)

    Brett — Yes. What blows my mind is how, regarding social media, people are so surprised. Like you say, it’s true for any market. Not a new concept.

    Karl — Exactly. Nobody’s going to say the DON’T want traffic, but real bloggers and businesses want the real deal. A link from someone who knows and trusts you, while referring people that know and trust them — worth a whole lot more than Digg traffic.

    Dave — Yes. What you said. Wait. What DID you say?

    MM — That’s the craziest part! Like when you’re in high school trying to figure out the best way to cheat on your exams. Maybe instead of spending 5 hours figuring out how to cheat, spend 2 hours studying. Call me crazy.

  17. Dave "StumbleDuggSphunnnnnn!" Navarro
    April 4, 2008 at 10:28 pm (9 years ago)

    I was trying to say I was about to get liquored up, but my 4 year old just won’t go to sleep …

    So I’m doomed to be coherent for a little bit longer.

  18. Naomi Dunford
    April 4, 2008 at 11:05 pm (9 years ago)

    Sorry about that Dave. Soon enough, dude. Soon enough.

  19. George Fragos
    April 4, 2008 at 11:38 pm (9 years ago)

    Again Naomi on target. There’s no substitute for hard work and a quality product that fills a market niche. Perhaps part of the problem is that people are targeting the entire web rather than focusing on an identifiable and understandable market. IMHO that’s the problem with Social Networking — it tends to make use the shotgun untargeted approach to marketing our businesses.

  20. Kelly
    April 5, 2008 at 9:25 am (9 years ago)


    Naomi, Have I told you lately that I love you? LOL at today’s stupid tagline.

    Now that I know why I’m getting IttyClicks over at “my place,” I’m going to go back and read this post to say something useful. (I thought perhaps you had said something about my charming and talented kid who’s mentioned in this morning’s Tip at MCE.)

    Back in a sec…

  21. Joanna Young
    April 5, 2008 at 9:39 am (9 years ago)

    It’s easy for us to get sucked into the power of social media and the buzz of seeing lots of traffic from a site like StumbleUpon (and I still love them, because they send me a lot of traffic). But most of those visitors just flash past – not stopping to read, to connect, to comment, to get to know you. So are they really what we want?

    Or do we want to build stronger lasting relationships which will help our blog, our business, our network to grow?

    The social media sites can still help us to do that. I’ve met people through that route including readers who like to stumble but not comment, likewise on Twitter. And why not?

    The point is to be clear about what you’re after. 5 minutes of fame or relationships that will sustain you over the long haul.

    I know which I’d rather write for.


  22. Tony Lawrence
    April 5, 2008 at 9:51 am (9 years ago)

    I opted out of social media back in February.. interestingly enough, few people agreed with my opinions (very similar to yours) but since then I see more and more folks facing the reality you describe here.

  23. Kelly
    April 5, 2008 at 10:01 am (9 years ago)


    It’s an inevitable process, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. Social bookmarking had a lot of potential. Not to get too philosophical but as humans we’re built to exploit things, from stone, iron, and fire, to native peoples, open lands, and natural resources, to SU, Digg, and IRS loopholes. :) Wrecking good stuff is what we do, for worse or for worse.

    I loved Michael’s comment: “The internet is really accelerating how marketing ruins everything.” For certain kinds of marketing efforts, I agree. LOL, but it depends.

    Being just nearly 6-months-old, I’ll tell you the most I’ve ever seen in a day from SU is around 300 visits, and None. Of them. Subscribed. Because it is broken, and SU is just not leading people to things they want to see.

    This is one of the reasons why I let social stuff go. Totally organic is painfully slow growth (!) but I don’t do this for the reasons lots of people do. I don’t need three thousand subscribers so people will click on my ads, because all I’m trying to do is share Experience Design with the world. With clients, the minute we get to talking they realize they’ve waited too long to hire us already. Ditto when I go out and speak. A year ago, somebody said to me, If you could just talk to more people—they always get it right away! and a light bulb went off for me.

    All I want is the right readers, the right subscribers, and some opinionated and rockin’ pals to keep my thoughts fresh and relevant. Traffic’s nice (I do want more of course) but I have reached all the goals in that last sentence already.

    I’ve said it a million times at Maximum Customer Experience—word of mouth. For bricks-and-mortar, for bloggers and other online businesses. If what you’re providing is, well, a great Customer (Reader) Experience, they’ll tell others, and you’ll get what you need.

    /serious thoughts



  24. Bob Younce at the Writing Journey
    April 5, 2008 at 11:38 am (9 years ago)

    This is the most insightful post on Social Media I’ve ever read. I’m truly, TRULY in awe.

    I’m with James, though. There comes a point when Social Media becomes irrelevant. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about an article getting 8,000 hits from Stumble. But I can’t write for Stumble; it isn’t Stumble that I’m trying to help succeed as an Internet Writer.

    My growth may be slower by not catering to or manipulating social media, but I feel like I’m being more effective in my mission.

  25. Brad Brown
    April 5, 2008 at 11:52 am (9 years ago)

    I initially joined StumbleUpon in hopes of gaming the system to increase traffic to my site. Then I realized that it could actually be a useful tool to discover new websites. So, I stopped promoting my own sites, and attempting to enjoy the tool. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, I have to hit the stumble button fifteen times to find something useful. It’s like Tivo-ing through commercials to get to the actual program. I suspect Stumble will become like the real world, and we’ll begin to stick with our friends and known groups for Stumble material. It’s ashamed though, because it’ll really homogenize what we’re exposed to.

  26. Jeff -
    April 5, 2008 at 3:05 pm (9 years ago)

    Very, very interesting –

    It is funny how much extra stuff ends up on Digg – I’m certainly guilty of this myself, although I try to limit it to things that are pertinent to things that are relevant to current news.

    The question is, then: where can average bloggers go?

  27. Sandra Mendoza-Daly
    April 5, 2008 at 3:13 pm (9 years ago)

    Ah! The playing field is now leveled. Isn’t this the case with anything new? The more people start using X widget, the more watered down it gets? Two years ago, blogs were just catching on. Now, traditional media has caught on and is quoting bloggers!

    Your IRS analogy is brilliant Naomi! Everyone has caught on. Let’s start looking for the next loophole, but don’t tell anyone this time =)

  28. @Stephen | Productivity in Context
    April 6, 2008 at 6:19 am (9 years ago)

    I knew that this would happen, and sooner rather than later. In fact I spoke to one of your readers on the phone about it. And how a certain handful of success stories from last year will likely not be duplicated.

  29. David Everitt-Carlson
    April 6, 2008 at 11:44 am (9 years ago)

    Are the Bloggerati Missing the market?

    Somebody’s gotta help me. I can’t figure out why not a single blog or social media in the technorati or marketing arena is talking about the world’s largest market. Why is the bloggerati preaching to the choir and not the church?

    Has anyone noticed that Korea is the #1 broadband internet penetrated country on the planet – with over 80% of 48 million people connected? Has anyone noticed that OhMyNews from South Korea has been around since 2000 and pioneered the area of citizen reporting way beyond any of the recent offerings in the west? (Translate: Truemors) Yes, OhMyNews has an International edition.

    Excerpts From Wild Wild East:

    “It is the first of its kind (OhMyNews) in the world to accept, edit and publish articles from its readers, in an open source style of news reporting. About 20% of the site’s content is written by the 55-person staff while the majority of articles are written by other freelance contributors who are mostly ordinary citizens.”

    Whoa! Innovation and entrepreneurship from Asia? “Tsunami go wrong way Kimosabe!”

    Okay, I’m boring you. Let’s talk about the 78 million people in Vietnam, who drew 20 billion US in foreign investment last year, the largest on the planet, or the insanely growing blogging universe here…or China. Anybody wanna talk China? Ok, that’s 1.5 billion people and I need to check my Internet connected numbers and bandwidth and so-forth but why? America is soon to be #2 in the Internet and that will never again change except for America to be #3, 4 and so on.

    Oh wait…The world is round? You don’t fall off it when you leave America? Oh dear. The marketing community calls this market the “BRIC” market.

    Brazil. Russia. India. China. These are the fastest growing, largest consumer markets in the world – and if products aren’t coherent with the world’s next largest middle class they will simply die. Are we inventing anything these markets want to use?

    Imagine digging up a Yahoo logo in a thousand years and the archeologist explaining to his students that the word meant “a cowboy’s cry”.

  30. Klaus
    April 6, 2008 at 4:49 pm (9 years ago)

    Hi Naomi, pretty good analyis.
    I guess it’s currently just a shakeout for the different platforms happening: the one which has the best algorithm to provide links to quality content will survive, while the others are drowning in spam…

  31. GirlPie
    April 7, 2008 at 12:08 am (9 years ago)

    An awkward “thank you” for the late education; I recently discovered DIGG when a blogger I adore mentioned it, so I went looking. It seemed like a simple popularity scale, saying, in effect: “if you like this, digg it.”

    I read carefully; I liked; I dugg.

    Thought that was all it was, and all that was required of me: read, vote. I didn’t get that it was meant to be “all news, videos & images.” (‘All’, or ‘only’? Not well-written.) I thought it was “support what you approve” — I hope I didn’t water down the hooch by reading and digging great articles that others had already submitted to Digg.

    Maybe the blogosphere should offer what journalism (and many other dying trades/professions) once built themselves upon: novices are trained to become apprentices, and those who make it train as journeymen, before getting too carried away. Since there are few rules, I so appreciate the lessons you teach, even after the fact. Your posts and your commentators offer quite the range…

  32. GirlPie
    April 7, 2008 at 1:07 am (9 years ago)

    Thanks Michael, but I thought a ‘blogging coach’ would be geared toward the blog Writers, not for blog readers/supporters, like myself.

    I’ve been reading your Remarkablogger for quite some time now, but I’d better go back through it to look for what I must’ve missed on that topic… I don’t think you meant that using Digg as a blog visitor requires a coach — ? (If so, Digg really could use MWP’s drive by + a new tagline by Naomi!)

    Best if I keep my confused votes to myself (funny, in the old days a “dig” was a put-down…)

  33. Michael Martine, Blog Consultant
    April 7, 2008 at 1:18 am (9 years ago)

    @ GirlPie – Definitely geared towards writers. I had just assumed that you had a blog, and that was your point of view. If I was incorrect, my apologies. Thanks for being a reader, much appreciated.

  34. Hunter Nuttall
    April 7, 2008 at 3:12 am (9 years ago)

    I first became interested in StumbleUpon when it took me from 7 visitors one day to 1,131 the next, but I never saw it as more than a marketing tool. Who needs it to discover new sites? Does anyone honestly suffer from not having enough posts to read?

    How about this–StumbleUpon can block people from giving more than one thumbs up a week. Then whenever you read something, you have to carefully consider, “is this thumb-worthy?”

  35. Evelyn Lim
    April 7, 2008 at 11:00 am (9 years ago)

    This is my first visit here and I must say that I’ve enjoyed this article.


  36. James Hipkin
    April 7, 2008 at 3:51 pm (9 years ago)

    Your comments are astute but what can we do about it?

    I’m afraid I never figured out the Stumble / Digg thing. I find interesting blogs the old fashioned way, others, sometimes individuals and sometimes bloggers, tell me that a blog is worthwhile so I check it out. If the content lives up to my expectations / satisfies my needs I come back. For example, I read your blog because the content is intelligent, insightful and relevant to my interests.

    A blogger’s product is content. Keep the content focused on customers’ needs and interests and they will come, and come back. Technology crutches come and go, great content lives forever.

  37. Joohliah
    April 8, 2008 at 5:31 am (9 years ago)

    Great post Naomi, as always… and great comments too.

    Sometimes, marketing reminds me of science. When someone thinks of something new, it changes everything for a while, and then it becomes the average and normal lifestyle for everyone.

    A few years ago, having a wesite or a blog was a distinctive mark. Then getting Dugg or StumbledUpon was a sign of great public recognition. Now not only everybody has a bog/website/myspace, but anyone can get Dugg and even make it to the front page if they have enough friends (well, not anymore apparently). So in the end, what do you need to get noticed ? I’d go for great content, and great people who talk about you, as you said.

    Until someone finds another great way to get free social media love, which will work for a few months, and then be useless. It’s always been this way, and I guess it’s what makes us go forward, because we just have to. And actually, I kind of like that :)

    Oh, and I Dugg this, of course :)

  38. Elana
    April 10, 2008 at 1:44 am (9 years ago)

    This article was a pleasure to read. You communicate so clearly, plus, your humor and analogies are extraordinary.

    Per your subject, I am a middle aged, female food blogger –not the most tech savvy on the block. Just recently caught on to Stumble. Initially it worked wonders; now yields next to nothing in traffic. Your post solved this mystery for me!

    I have always been a believer in word of mouth and good old fashion work, so I’m not surprised (or disappointed necessarily) that the gravy train is gone.

  39. Victoria Marinelli
    April 10, 2008 at 2:55 pm (9 years ago)

    We added shit to the wine and then wondered why the wine tasted like shit.

    Bwa ha ha ha ha ha THANK YOU for saying it.

    And let me also take a moment to snort at the irony of having labored late into this morning on figuring out where and how to insert my stupid freaking feedblitz flares into blog posts, deciding which social media apps to include, etc. (when my blog, thus far, has no ads, and therefore can’t generate ad revenue, and when I only get major traffic every third blue moon, and then, usually only some post I can’t even stand to look at immediately after I’ve posted it) – and then reading this.

    I am delighted to be told what an ass I actually am. No really, I’m delighted. Thank you and OF COURSE I’ll give it another Digg! (And save to too, for good measure.)


  40. Ben
    May 6, 2008 at 9:54 am (9 years ago)

    I’ve never really understood the social media thing and always thought that is was for kids to interact with each other. Then all the blogging gurus began pushing it as a way to market your blog. So, I signed up for quite a few media sites as a way to promote my blog. Fiqured I would be getting a gadzillion visitors. Needless to say, I only get a few visitors each day from social media sites.

    My view now on social media sites is similar to billboard advertising. You put your ad (the post) up for everyone to see and hope that a few people will stop by and visit. Anymore, I use it on a very limited basis and will probably end up just using the sites on a sporadically. Life is just too short to be chasing the next Digg, Stumbleupon or other social media site.

  41. Michael Hall
    July 17, 2008 at 3:00 pm (9 years ago)

    Hmmm… maybe i need to code my own social media site, and actually moderate the crap out of it – just like good forums do.

    Think I’ll add this idea to my to do list. lol

  42. Jessica Cox
    August 28, 2008 at 11:02 am (8 years ago)

    I know this is a bit of an old post; a friend sent the link to me.

    Very thought provoking. I thought I’d toss in my 2 cents.

    I wonder if over-zealous marketing “killed” social media, or simply accelerated the natural cycle of growth through an early boom?

    I’m not of the opinion that any one medium of sharing should define social perfection. I’m not sure the “thousands of visitors from one bookmark” was ever meant to last.

    It does bother me to see so much spam choking the lines of communication. But even these difficulties are forcing growth… and growth in an important area — blocking out spammers.

    Social networks aren’t dying, they’re fragmenting — the spam bombardment is driving them underground, away from noise. It’s forcing them to create entry barriers… which means real social networking can actually flourish!

    I also like the fact that smaller social communities are emerging. Smaller communities make for better niche communications, and they tend to be more resistant to spam.

    Honestly, I like knowing the bury brigades are out there. They recognize the seriousness of the threat, and are taking steps to protect their community.

    I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

  43. Tod Williams
    October 21, 2008 at 10:27 am (8 years ago)

    Great Post!
    It is akin to when search was a mess and google stepped in with PR, I applaud the change, now we have to be even more inventive.

  44. Sarah Browne
    October 23, 2008 at 2:30 am (8 years ago)

    It’s all Me Media now. All me, all the time. Everybody is so busy self-promoting that social media is no fun anymore. I remember those dinosaur digital days when connecting was called ‘community’ and it was genuinely about community — not just a log of ‘look at me!’ one-liners. Even the mantra: *share, not sell * has simply turned into people *pretending* to share so they can sell some DVD or ebook. The shameless self-promotion can only get worse as our economy gets worse. Kvetch kvetch. Can connecting online be fun again? Pretty please?

  45. Jason Sieckmann
    November 3, 2008 at 10:59 am (8 years ago)

    I want to be a good blogger, but I also want to pay my bills. I can’t work retail and then spend my days ranting online and hope that each new bitch will be a quality post.

    It’s much better to just write the best that I can, AND be a whore for my site. I’m even ordering a sew-on patch for my gi, which I wear to Brazilian Jiujitsu tournaments. If I don’t want to work for someone else, I simply have to make each new thing of quality, and then be it’s promoter across the net.

  46. Lee J
    November 10, 2008 at 3:35 pm (8 years ago)

    What a great post, thanks Naomi!

    I’d also agree with a comment from Kristen above, that we have to kinda go back to square one and make sure that the content we’re putting out is good in the first place. As one of my old tutors used to say…

    “You can’t make chicken soup out of chicken shit.”

    (after reading a few articles on here I thought you’d appreciate that one, Naomi!)



  47. Akiva
    January 20, 2009 at 11:13 am (8 years ago)

    It is just like the only way to have a secret kept, is to not tell anyone.
    Same thing with loopholes-

  48. MAC Guru
    February 10, 2009 at 4:54 pm (8 years ago)

    I think once enough documentation is available for the non-techies to be able to compete, is when various marketing get too watered down-

  49. Jason Sieckmann
    February 10, 2009 at 5:08 pm (8 years ago)

    True, but the future of development doesn’t belong to techies alone; they’ll be there at the top echelons; but the true power of web development will all be drag and drop eventually; because it only takes one good technology to replace the old ones that techies complicate with their jargon (no offense I know it’s not intentional.)

    The internet isn’t like the car industry where it can be siphoned down based on it’s actual complicated nature versus physics and availability; the net is where good technology wins; see Firefox vs IE.

    The moment commercial software is as good as drag and drop and WordPress-like blogs die with their hit-or-miss usability; tech guys will see their industry shrink but marketing will go on.

    I will grant you though; marketing is VERY over-saturated. I can’t STAND to see these John Chow-esque morons on Twitter uni-spamming their real estate and crappy costume jewelry sites; they really are the major part of twitter at this point and it’s pathetic.

    Those who win will have the harshest opinions, the flashiest material products, and longest establishment of pedigree; just like the ads that run during the news at 6pm.

    History can and will repeat itself.

  50. MGarber
    March 9, 2009 at 8:07 pm (8 years ago)

    Tragically, this really gives mob rule a bad name.

  51. DBL
    April 22, 2009 at 11:19 am (8 years ago)

    People ruin every revolution, this is a very old story. Develop a feeding niche and somebody will come along to abuse it. The more concentrated and centralised useful content discovery is in one service (i.e. Twitter) the worse the problem will become.

    We can cry about humanity or we can keep digging because the good stuff doesn’t disappear, it just gets lost in noise. People who produce good stuff aren’t going to quit and suddenly get diverted into pure marketing, because producing good stuff is just too satisfying and pure marketing too… not.

    So the good stuff will always be there, it just becomes harder to find and more and more dependent on our judgement in what to follow and what not.

    That’s humanity. Our character judgement is so fine-tuned because we’re so good at fucking with each other and parasitising each other’s goals. I bet most people reading this can look at any Twitter page and tell with upwards of 95% accuracy whether the person is a bot, or a marketing droid, or somebody wasting time gabbing, or somebody with a genuine passion for something. It’s actually not hard and it takes an extraordinarily good liar to fool most of us.

    This is your skill for navigating this space, use it.

  52. Raj
    February 16, 2010 at 9:38 am (7 years ago)

    Wow, what an article, u really hit the nail on the head.

    u have made a very articulate point, i was thinking about it and now i know what was wrong.


  53. Rosie
    February 25, 2010 at 12:15 am (7 years ago)

    I found you on StumbleUpon so I guess its not all crap :-)


  54. Jim Namaste
    March 17, 2010 at 9:21 am (7 years ago)

    Great description of the corruption process. Entropy is dead. Long live entropy.
    As some of the comments hint (michael–moderate; jessica–block, Jason–better tech), it is a matter of creating more order with newer, more power tech.
    Eventually the AI will get there, hopefully sooner.
    In the mean time I am working on the idea of a large gated community.

  55. jmrowland
    April 27, 2010 at 11:02 am (7 years ago)

    This article takes a baby step toward the truth.

    You apply a label to yourself that procalims that you intend to exploit social media for professional purposes. Then, when it stops working, you slap your forehead and venture that, maybe, you made an error in judgement? I call B.S. on this one, and I’m not talking about a Bachelor’s degree.

  56. Farnoosh
    May 13, 2010 at 8:23 am (7 years ago)

    I feel so much better for not understanding the social media around Digg, Stumble Upon and all the rest. I liked reading this.

  57. Patrick
    June 1, 2010 at 1:54 pm (7 years ago)

    As an “old guy” I’m also trying to get a grasp on “social media”

    Other than the “big hitters here”; what do you think a 10 page special report be worth?

    You know as follows:
    (1) $10
    (2) $20
    (3) $50

    And…I really need to get out of my dayjob-that’s a factor I hope?


  58. jmrowland
    June 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm (7 years ago)

    You don’t get it. The reason it’s “not working” is because you got greedy. You looked for ways to exploit the system instead of being content with letting it do what it’s supposed to do. You started treating all the PEOPLE out there as TARGETS, as numbers of things to consume and take advantage of. You took on the attitude of a predator, instead of a participant.

  59. Will Marlow
    September 20, 2010 at 11:51 pm (6 years ago)

    Great post.

    In their prime, the old social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Digg were THE BEST way to bookmark interesting content. Now, you get the same value from sharing on a Facebook Wall or posting in a Twitter feed. The organic users migrated away from those tools. There ought to be a law of social networks that the spammer-to-“real person” ratio needs to be something like 1 to 100 in order for the spammer to derive value from the experience. I’m pretty sure the old social bookmarking sites are suffering from the effects of testing this law…

  60. Jameson @ Bilmar Marketing
    September 23, 2010 at 10:53 pm (6 years ago)

    @ Will- For everyone that leaves one Social Media site another pops up and all migrate to that. I truly feel Social Media will only grow strong. Plus in the example of Digg, they have just done a complete redesign and so now they can re-market to those organic users they may have lost.

    @Naomi- Great brutally honest post, love the style. I found you from a guest post you did for their birthday. I will add you to my RSS reader!

    Best Wishes.

  61. whathisface
    October 31, 2010 at 12:51 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Naomi, I’ve been following your blog for a month or two. Your posts are insightful and entertaining, and those of you who contribute regularly are just as entertaining :-)

    Thanks for saying this, I agree and when I say it people take offence.

    There are so many things going round in my head right now.

    Do people really think its possible to create real connections on the internet? Or is it all just unreal?

  62. whathisface
    October 31, 2010 at 1:12 am (6 years ago)

    Also, may I ask… what is a USP and what is a meme?

  63. Coach Sean
    November 24, 2010 at 12:59 am (6 years ago)

    This is great! Well said. I certainly wish folks would start interacting with their readers and their market instead of merely trying to screw the system. Web 2.0 is about engaging each other.

  64. Heba Hosny
    December 27, 2010 at 2:55 am (6 years ago)

    You made very profound and sadly truthful people here, Naomi.
    It boggles my mind why so may people constantly try to “manipulate” what’s beautiful until it has no choice but to turn its ugly face! and unfortunately, everyone pays the price!
    In spite of everything, I strongly believe that social media will never lose its charm and I see people painting their Klout scores on their faces on the new years eve! Good luck to all!

  65. Backpacking Dad
    January 12, 2011 at 5:01 pm (6 years ago)

    Great post. I’m adding you to my geocities webring right away. What’s your Friendster name?

  66. Srini Kumar
    January 19, 2011 at 5:16 am (6 years ago)

    I am sorry you feel that way !!!

    Myself, I work on my own projects all day, and spend time checking out techmeme and a few other aggregator type things. After work, I’ve cut my cable TV so I do some youtube. And I play a lot of videos on my facebook news feed, from Donnie Iris’ hit “Ah Leah!” to the Audio Two’s “Top Billin'”, and that’s fun. Plus I’m just discovering Tweetdeck! It’s super neat! The kinds of things you learn online are just rad.

    I guess what I am saying is that maybe you need to reboot? The social media world is a blast! Obviously it loves you, look at all these supportive comments. But hey, if you need a hug, you know how to blog and get you some :) That’s awesome!

  67. Justin Codrington
    January 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm (6 years ago)

    New to this whole Internet marketing game! but the first thing i heard was how using these social media site can bring you tons of traffic. that being active on these site can turn your own site around in a hurry! but thanks for the insight

  68. Richard Rose
    January 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm (6 years ago)

    I am very active on this site good to know that may be i should start looking into other outlets to gain traffic!

  69. 1
    March 28, 2011 at 9:10 am (6 years ago)

    You picked a good topic for this post and you wrote about it well. I have seen a few other sites with similar content but no 1 has done a better job than you on writing about it.

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