Are You (Ab)Using Your Online Friends?


Does this sound familiar?

You’re an aspiring blogger looking to make yourself known in a popular niche. All the blogging books and blogs tell you in order to do this you have to network heavily including commenting at other top blogs to bring in traffic. You do. You don’t just comment you become THE top commenter. You add your opinion to every single post and even drop some links if you can get away with it. As soon as your blog starts picking up momentum you forget that other blog. You don’t come by and comment or participate in community activities anymore. There’s no need to, you only wanted to link to your own stuff anyway. You disappear into the sunset never to be seen again.

Does this sound familiar?

You have 250 Twitter followers, which is fine except there are no “big name” Tweeters who are following you in return. While you have some great conversations with your friends, Tweeting links to your stuff hardly sends traffic your way. You begin following the power Tweeters, those with 5,000, 10,000 or 50,000 followers and one or two follow you. These are the folks you care about. You begin asking them to retweet your stuff. It doesn’t matter that they don’t know you from Adam or that you don’t really care much for helping them to promote their own stuff.  If they can give your blog posts a retweet or two you’d be set and never have to talk to them again.

Does this sound familiar?

Certain blogs enjoy a liberal link love policy. They don’t have to do this, they simply enjoy sharing with their communities. Thanks to them, your blog is on the map. Half of that popular blog’s community now visits your blog. You won’t come as far as to say that other blog is responsible for your beginning popularity but you know it’s true. However you never link to them in return. Not because they don’t have good stuff to share, but because you’re afraid of sending readers to the “competition.”

Does this sound familiar?

Every day after you blog you contact everyone in your arsenal and ask them to give your blog posts Stumbles, Tweets, Diggs and more. Everyone says yes. However, you never take the time to see what those other bloggers are doing. You never ask how you can reciprocate. If you are asked to reciprocate you forget or you don’t don’t it because you don’t want to seem spammy.

Does this sound familiar?

You look for the top blogs so you can guest post and build awareness around your own name and brand. Do you spend time in this blogger’s community when you’re not guest posting? Do you link to his blog or participate in her discussions? Did you choose this blog for any reason other than numbers?

Does this sound familiar?

An online acquaintance knows some of the top bloggers and social media people. You approach her for an introduction so you can promote your book. Your book is an online best seller because she helped to arrange for a review by a leading social media guru. Your acquaintance never hears from you again…until you wants her to review her next book.

Are you using your online friends?

Most blogs have transient communities. Readers come by and learn, comment and share and move on. For many it’s a matter of getting a new job or having less time to spend. For others, it’s because they don’t need those blogs or bloggers anymore. Now that they’re popular, they have no use for the people who helped them to get there. Think about how you got your start in the online world. Think about how you achieved the status you have now. Chances are there are a few people who helped along the way.

When was the last time you said thank you? When was the last time you gave back in return?



20 responses
  1. Jules - Big Girl Bombshell Avatar

    I try to say thank you and mention my common commenters or readers within my posts. I often just comment when the posts “moves” me but I especially try to comment on the smaller blogs because I know how that feels.

    I follow many blogs outside my niche, especially writing and blogging ones, but I don’t always comment. I guest post because I want to push myself in my writing, if that makes sense.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Hi Jules,

      Bloggers live for comments, so it’s always a good thing. Especially if you have a unique point of view.

      Thanks for dropping by and offering your thoughts.

  2. Jeanne Avatar

    Nice post…social networking, which is really what all this is about, is about socializing. Your descriptions are like the “friends” who want to be your friend when all goes well and they can get something out of you, like a ride to work. Then when they don’t need you anymore, they go away. Very true.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Hi Jeanne,

      My family had a membership to an outdoor Y Camp each summer and used the pool almost every day. We had certain friends who only came around in the summer but couldn’t be found during the rest of the year. Having a pool at home, and later going to the Y camp taught us a lot about real friends.

  3. Christopher Avatar

    I always try to comment on posts when I have something to say. I follow quite a few blogs but I don’t comment all the time. I find it more enjoyable to actually be part of the conversation. The links back are just a nice bonus. I always try to reciprocate too when I can. I don’t always get to it right away but I try to make it right somehow.

    It’s easy to make some of these mistakes too when you think about it. I try to treat people how I want to be treated and that includes helping each other out. Kind of the whole idea behind my blog, to help others.

    Anyways, great post, I’m keeping an eye out for these lol.
    .-= Christopher´s last blog ..A Little Story About Procrastination =-.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Hi Christopher,

      You’re always very generous with the link love. I have seen you tweet links for all your favorite bloggers and post them on Facebook. I can tell you I found many interesting posts I wouldn’t have otherwise known about if not for you.

      1. Christopher Avatar

        I’m so glad to hear that. I figure I’m getting something cool out of this post why not share it.
        .-= Christopher´s last blog ..A Little Story About Procrastination =-.

  4. Laura Spencer Avatar

    Brilliant post Deb!

    It’s important to remember that those are real people at the other end of your social network connection.

    I frequently try to start conversations with those who I meet on social network. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not.

    I’m more interested in meeting folks who have something worthwhile to say than those who simply have a huge number of followers (who may all be autofollowers for all I know).
    .-= Laura Spencer´s last blog ..Are You Trapped in the Writing Web? =-.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Hi Laura,

      I agree and it’s simple to find out who the true conversationalists are after a while. I used to think it was all about how many friends and followers one has, now I find the conversation gets lost among so many people.

  5. Tracy Rudd Avatar

    Great post, and gave me some food for thought. I’m a newcomer to social networks like Twitter in a business sense, but my personal inclination, like Laura, is to choose people to follow based on my interest in what they have to say, rather than the number of followers they have.

    I appreciate people who take the time to respond personally to a comment, a follow or a RT, but am a little put-off by the obviously pro-forma DMs some put out instead – or none at all, if comments are turned off. I’d like to connect with the real person, rather than have a polite but meaningless automated response (or none).

    What I have already noticed about MANY of the A-List Twitterer’s and bloggers is that they take the time to respond in a personal way. It is clearly part of their best business practice, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that it also creates that feel-good vibe for all concerned. 🙂
    .-= Tracy Rudd´s last blog ..Tribal Warfare? =-.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Tracy, Most of the so-called A Listers are very approachable. I’m not an A Lister but I can tell you I get almost 1000 emails each day. It’s hard for me to get to them all. However, if you @me on Twitter you have a better chance of getting a response.

      I joined the networks for the conversation. They’re also great promotional tools but I do find many people abuse them.

      1. Tracy Rudd Avatar

        Maybe I came across as more business-focused than I meant in my first comment. I follow you, and other A-B-C listers (not really drawing any distinctions 😉 ), because I like what you have to say and the great information you provide for a noob like me, not to make contact for my own benefit.

        As others have said, I comment/RT to share ideas and thoughts, and for the conversation value. I love a good conversation! 😉

        Sierra is right, though – there never seems to be enough hours in the day for writing for clients and myself, and commenting on all the great posts and tweets (and you must struggle with it – getting 1000 emails a DAY!? Wow.).
        .-= Tracy Rudd´s last blog ..Tribal Warfare? =-.

  6. JulieF Avatar

    I forget to comment, but I do post links and share leads. My friends are important to me- I’d rather see them make it than me, sometimes.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      It’s not even a matter of doing for others. No one has to comment or promote stuff. It’s when the using happens that I tend to get a little frustrated. I can’t tell you how many people ask me to RT their stuff, and I’m like “who are you?”

    2. Christopher Avatar

      Honestly I feel the same way. I get more of a kick out of helping someone else over myself.
      .-= Christopher´s last blog ..A Little Story About Procrastination =-.

  7. Sierra Black Avatar

    This was a good read. It drives me nuts when people I know talk about their social networks as marketing tools or promotional outlets. I mean, yes, you get attention when you participate in these networks, but if its not fun, why do it? I read blogs and Twitter because it captures my interest and I like the writers I’m reading.

    That said, as my parenting blog has gotten more popular and I’ve picked up more freelance work at other sites, I don’t have as much time to comment on other blogs as I used to. I still read them, and keep in touch, but I’m not commenting on every post the way I might have done a year ago. I don’t know that there’s much to be done about that – there are only so many hours in the day.
    .-= Sierra Black´s last blog ..Where Do Feet Go At Night? =-.

    1. Deb Ng Avatar

      Hi Sierra,

      I can relate. I don’t have time to comment either. But so many other writers and bloggers have been so generous with their promotion of FWJ that I try and comment at least sometimes, tweet links to their good stuff and link to their blog posts. It’s the least I can do. I guess my point is, don’t throw people away once you have no use for them.

  8. Jessie Haynes / JHaynesWriter Avatar

    Networking is entirely different from using people, and I hate to see things take a downward spiral such as this.

    I’m glad you covered this so well. Great blog post.

    I try very hard to give without expecting anything in return and to help others without what’s in it for me as a concern.

  9. Kriszia Avatar

    I agree with Sierra, some people just might not have enough time anymore due to a number of things to go comment on somebody’s site. Or maybe they just haven’t found a piece where they had something to say.

    That said, I do think it’s kind of sneaky to just go on a site with the sole purpose of promoting. To just up and leave is just bad business, not to mention a crappy networking habit!

  10. norma Avatar

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I think that I mostly comment on blogs if I find what they wrote to be interesting. like this one.
    Perhaps I will start a blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.