A friend sent me a direct message on Twitter the other day asking if I’d perhaps share a link to one of his co-worker’s latest blog posts. Most people who know me know I’m happy to share good content, if it’s good content. So I take a look and if I like it, I share it.

I seldom think that they’re taking advantage of me. While yes, I do have a fair number of followers on Twitter. I also have a reputation of sharing good content. It is, after all my Twitter strategy. So asking me to share a link is a nice way of saying, “Please pimp my stuff and drive traffic to my site!” But I’m certainly capable of weeding out the beggars and leeches from the friends asking for a little boost for their already good content, so I don’t fret about it.

Focus

When I responded and said I’d be happy to share the link, my friend offered to help share links to my content in return. I didn’t think much about it at first, but then the notion kinda struck me: I don’t ask people to share my content.

Granted, when I was a new to the social media scene in 2007 (almost 10 years after I started blogging personally), I experimented with Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and the various submission sites. I joined a couple of voting circles and cross promoted and pimped with other good content providers (none of them were bad … I had some ethics). And, yes, I tried asking a few folks to pimp my wares from time to time. But those experiments were short-lived and, for the most part, I’ve never promoted my own content the way lots of others do.

The tried-and-true social media marketer would criticize me for not optimizing my traffic. The SEO types would shake their heads at me, disappointed that I didn’t take better advantage of the opportunity to game the algorithm a bit.

But I haven’t had to.

Until late last year, I didn’t even have a good URL structure at Social Media Explorer. I’ve never tried to win search. Sure, I copy write for SEO a bit, but the content here has always been optimized for people, not spiders.

I’ve also never tried to manufacture traffic. Yes, I Tweet links to my own content amidst my shares of other people’s, but beyond that, I typically produce the content and let it stand on its own.

While the conclusion I’m going to draw here may sound a bit pat-me-on-the-back-ish, it’s not intended that way. What I hope my history of blogging can teach you is that you don’t always need SEO and you don’t always need to be a link whore. But the only way you can avoid using those tactics to build your blog is to do one thing:

Write really compelling content.

Okay, even I have to come down from that cloud a moment. Not everything I write is compelling. But me and the other authors here at SME over the years have focused on questioning the status quo and pushing people’s thinking. We are consistent in serving up interesting topics that sometimes serve our own purposes, yet always seem to intrigue or engage you.

We work hard to make sure our content is strong. And then, we let you do the rest. Because if the content is good enough, you’ll be happy to do it.

With everything, there is a balance. If you don’t want to spend so much money on pay-per-click, then focus on winning some organic search. If you don’t want to spend so much time on analytics and reporting, better define your goals so the reports become streamlined with what you’re trying to accomplish. Similarly, if you don’t want to spend so much time promoting and optimizing your content for search, get better at writing really good content.

No, it’s not easy. But the alternative is a far less efficient system.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://askaaronlee.com Aaron Lee

    Asking gets you a long way especially in social media. I receive a fair amount of people asking me to retweet their tweets too. Like you, I share only good content, I receive a lot of request like “make money online” post or weird contents which I didn't respond to. Few which I responded to, ended up sending me all their contents to share.

    In my personal opinion, only ask some to share when its your best post or a post you feel really confident or happy with. Just my 2cents.

    Great post as usual from you.

    P.S: I am bad at SEO too.. tee hee!

  • http://twitter.com/drbret Bret L Simmons

    Damn, this rocks. Optimize for people, not spiders. I wish more people would get that message. Well done.

  • http://twitter.com/drbret Bret L Simmons

    Oh, and one thing i LOVE about this post is I think there is an error in your title – should be An Insider's Guide – but the content STILL rocks. It's a point I try to make all the time that perfection is not the standard. Perfection is irrelevant if you can't ship.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Bret. I don't see an error. I meant scoop. But I am by no means

      perfect, so carry on. Thanks!

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    Its king because that's the only thing Google holds wight on..not so much on videos..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://www.spiral16.com/ Eric Melin

    Jason- Great advice. So basic, yet so important. I've been making a concerted effort to write more compelling content and it's really helping with our traffic and leads lately. Let me ask you this: Do you prefer feature-style writing or the inverted pyramid? Do you use one style of writing all the time or not? Cheers!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      I probably classify as more of a feature writer than inverted pyramid. But

      it depends on the purpose. If I'm reporting, I report. If I'm waxing poetic

      .. it's a free for all. Heh.

  • http://twitter.com/mediagofer Jeffrey Ryan

    Thanks Jason! I don't write for SEO either. I write content that interests me and hope those that stumble upon it (pardon the pun) will enjoy the posts too.

  • http://thefuturebuzz.com AdamSinger

    Loved this Jason – thanks :)

  • Daniel M

    This was a great post, I’m currently studying advertising and public relations and had to build a personal social media plan and found this as an alternative that I would enjoy doing. While there is nothing wrong with self-promotion I couldn’t really see myself doing it despite encouragement from classmates and other people better established in social media. It is definitely important to stress content over how loud a person can be on the web and I think the success of your bog definitely proves how being content oriented can still produce an influential and well-known blog.

  • kirstenwright

    Great reminder to us all to focus on good content – however, I do find it helpful every once in a while to get a push from friends on a post that you really want to get noticed.

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Jason, all I can say is that you might have saved my Social Media life with this post.

    Thank you for writing it.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      That's awfully nice of you to say. Glad to be useful!

  • http://solosocialmedia.blogspot.com/ Lisa Wilberding

    Jason, this is why I read your posts. Yes, they are directed to me via others sometimes, who find the value, but it's never because you pimp yourself out all over the web. This whole notion of quality content (with a sensible amount of SEO keyword push) and minimal self promotion is the best social media model in my perspective. I'm often really turned off by even some of the good solid material just from the way a particular person goes about (shamefully at times) promoting themselves. It takes away from a lot the fundamental ethics the whole social media doctrine is (or should) be based upon. Thanks for your consistent approach, I know I'll keep reading and sharing your content!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Lisa. I appreciate you saying that. Got all warm and fuzzy.

  • geristengel

    I’m with you! Adding to the conversation with new takes on old ideas or with new ideas is much better than writing for spiders. I’m glad to know it can also be successful.

  • Wcrosbie

    And Insider’s Scoop? or An Insider’s Scoop?

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