Update: this article refers to social network automation tools like OnlyWire, Socializer, SocialPoster, etc. It does not refer to WordPress widgets, “share this” or “digg” buttons that allow the site visitors actually choose what/whether they want to bookmark.
In the mad race for traffic and hits, how many online entrepreneurs stop to wonder about quality?
It’s my personal conviction that too many are mesmerized by their high stats displayed by the web analytics software employed for traffic analysis. What most of these webtrepreneurs fail to understand is that numbers are not relevant for the sales power of a site. They are not relevant for popularity either, and they are far from being relevant when it comes to quality.
What Is Social Network Automation?
I too am a user of StumbleUpon, digg, sphin, del.icio.us, mag.nolia, mixx, etc… Sure I am happy to see thousands of page views each day, but at the end of the traffic flood, the ones who actually take the time to read my stories are still my friends, my community – the people who already know me, trust me, respect me. These people are also the ones who stumble or support my entries anyway. Social networking is about sharing knowledge, experience, and fun. What is social networking automation about anyway?
I have only one definition: social network automation is spam.
Social network automation tools submit a link not to one or two social sites, but to twenty, thirty, sometimes more than sixty. Out of these sites not even half are relevant for the topic of the story. The apparent SEO advantage (links) that comes as a result of automation means nothing in the long run. The search engines are smart enough to identify the quality of a link.
Let’s take digg for example: a story with two-three votes will not bring the same SEO value as a story with 100 votes. As a matter of fact it will bring no value unless it gets indexed high in the search engines. But even then the real winner is digg – digg will get more clicks on that page. In the best case you’ll get half of the users who land on that particular digg page actually clicking on your link to read your story. Do I make any sense?
Is Social Network Automation Ethical?
We often question ethics in blogging. How many times do we question ethics in promoting our work?
There is nothing wrong with asking our friends from the social networks to “stumble” or “digg” a story if they like it. What is wrong is to submit these stories to social networks where we are not even active using some tools that were developed especially for this purpose. In theory these tools simplify our work, save time and help generate incoming links and traffic.
But isn’t employing such tools defying all that social networking stands for?
With every use of an automation tool we mock the very ideals that are the basis of social networking. The social networking automation tools simply throw links in front of the users. In many cases these links are not even relevant for the members of the network, and sometimes they are not properly tagged or categorized. This leads to poor user experience within the network and the frustration of the users will eventually lead to negative votes on the story submitted with automation tools. Instead of ripping off the benefits of social media exposure the links thus submitted will be banned from the network or – in the ideal scenario – buried under other entries, more relevant and submitted by dedicated social network users who actively contribute in the community.
So my advice is to avoid any social automation tools and to start focusing on quality and building a community instead.