Selfish Self Promotion

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Selfish self promotion

When is it OK to straight out ask someone to promote your content?

You know, send someone an email or tweet and say something like “Hey, I wrote this really cool article, can you help me promote it?

I am not sure if there is a cut and dry answer, however I believe there are many bloggers who are going about it the wrong way.

Self Promotion or Self Demotion?

Not a day would go by that I don’t receive at least 7-8 requests from other bloggers similar to the one mentioned above. About half of which would be from complete strangers. I am relatively new to Twitter and blogging, so I can only assume that if you have been doing this for a lot longer than myself, then you must receive these requests in epidemic proportions.

Now, I really don’t have a problem with requests to promote content if you have made an effort to get to know me and if your content is, in fact, useful. However, I do take exception if you have simply scraped my email address from somewhere (like a previous comment that I have left on your blog) and all of a sudden expect me to help you promote everything you publish.

It seems ironic that the bloggers trying to push their content the most are the ones who are publishing recycled list-posts and other mind-numbing fluff.

In a previous post titled How can we improve the design community, I argued that we all need to think before we share anything via social media. Judging from the constructive conversation that post generated, I know there are many of you out there whom are on the same page.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that it is always wrong to ask others to promote your content. Sometimes unless you ask, it is hard to get your content noticed. However, reaching out to someone you know and reaching out to a complete stranger are two very different things. One is a polite request to a friend or colleague for help, the other could be considered spam.

According to Wikipedia;

“Spam is the abuse of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately”

Sounds spot on to me.

Social Capital

Recently I came across a blog post over at Six Pixels of Separation titled the Audacity of Asking.

The very first sentence of that post is “When you ask somebody to do something, it’s always wise to consider whether or not you have the Social Capital to make the request.

Before I read that post, I had never really given the concept of social capital very much thought.  However, I think there is something really meaningful there.

Just because we now have the ability to reach out to others via the internet and social media, it does not mean we should. Think of it this way, would you go up to a complete stranger, somebody you had never even seen before, and ask them to do you a favour? I don’t see why different rules should apply online.

Closing Thoughts

The design community is like any community, you need to earn some respect before you can expect anyone to start doing you any favours. This has nothing to do with trying to exclude anyone, it just means you have to give before you take.

If you have been giving for quite a while and your peers are still not reciprocating, it usually means that your content is simply not good enough.

What are your thoughts on being leveraged by others (you hardly know) to promote their content. Where do you draw the line?

Photo by Thomas Hawk

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