The Most Important Thing on Social Media: Do Not Pose as, Be a Legit User

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The Invesp Blog has published a post about social media promotion called “StumbleUpon: 3 Most Important Things To Keep In Mind“.

While I was eager to read the advice my face quickly turned grim when I read the posting.

Then I checked it at StumbleUpon and noticed that it was popular there. Can it be that gaming social media sites is really the way to go?


Legit blogs, bad advice

The Invesp blog is a legit source for good marketing information so I was the more disappointed to find such flawed advice. I don’t say that it’s bogus but it’s wrong on many levels and people who follow it might even get banned.

Most importantly though the post is the outcome of the wrong mindset, a mindset I call the SEO 1.0 mindset where people exploit social media instead of actively contributing to it in a positive manner.

Now who I am to teach a renowned social blogger like this? Some would perhaps refer to me as “power user” as I have more than 18k pages “liked” and ca. 1000 fans on StumbleUpon due to my year of active participation there.


Fake it till you make it?

I will debunk the myths spread in this post. While it attempts to sound legitimate between the lines there is the “SEO 1.0 mindset” shining through. The author states for example:

the algorithm is a very smart one so you have to make it look what you are doing is pretty legit.

This above sentence is a fundamental mistake. When you attempt to pose as a legit user you’ll never be one. It’s about being a legit user though what makes you successful. I never had to pose as a real user because I was from day one.


How to be legit without posing

How you can accomplish that? Do not pose as, be a legit user!

  1. Be yourself.
  2. Share what you really like not what you think others will like.
  3. Do not share only work stuff like business and marketing, share arts, photography, science pages as people on social media are mostly there to discover inspiring things not for business reasons.
  4. Express yourself.
  5. Do not share solely for numbers but for quality.

Now this is obviously a SEO blog so you probably wonder where the promotion comes in. In SEO 2.0 we don’t do obvious, sneaky or posing self promotion.


Exploitation vs participation

SEO 2.0 is not about exploiting social sites, it’s about using them to the max in accordance with the rules and to please the community. Do Not Promote Yourself to Promote Yourself

While SEO 1.0 is about aggressive self promotion SEO 2.0 relies on human nature.

Those who give the most are the most popular.

Ever wondered why presidential candidates promise tax cuts before each election?

The more accepted you get on social media the more people will trust and follow you and the more you’ll content gets shared. Often I’m amazed at how even the least social media compatible posts at SEO 2.0 get shared and gain traction.

Sometimes I see my articles get shared even before I can fix my typos.

A while ago I made the mistake of adding an image after publishing a post so that it was shared without the image and thus got less attention.

I don’t have to “rotate my network” or something. The only thing I have to do from time to time is telling my most eager readers and fans to NOT promote me anymore as 3 or more shares in a row rather hurt me than help. This is no joke.


Give people what they want

Some people who ask me for a share their content feel obliged to share mine and then I always say “only if you really like it”. I don’t need vote exchange or anything like this.

Also I never actively send instant messages to a group of people to share my content.

This way you’ll never know whether your content is truly popular or whether you just succeeded at artificially pushing it. Next time you post similar content again because you think it what people want and nothing happens.

You have to find a topic that most people are interested in. Such topics are of course:

  • The social site itself
  • Humor
  • Internet
  • Internet tools

Some of my most popular success stories with more than 10k page views covered those topics.


Examples of success and failure

The Internet lies post took me just an hour to write but was viewed more than 10k times with most people coming via StumbleUpon. It combined both Internet and humor. My social media friends largely ignored it btw.

Finally there are 2 pieces of advice in this article that are really true but are often abused by people too eager to promote themselves: Reviewing other stumblers and sending messages to those sharing interests with you.

I recently get more “targeted” messages like “Hey You, I see you like aviation too, check out my [insert sales pitch here]!”. In case it’s a sales pitch or it sucks for other reasons I won’t share it.

I might even report you as spam like the guy who wrote me “I see you like x” just because I used the tag a few times.

So now for the heroic reader I will disclose my mind boggling secret social media promotion tricks!

There are of course some techniques I use sometimes to speed up or enhance the process of being shared. They are pretty common sense and are in not overtly self promotional but they work.

  • Often I will announce a new post on Twitter to my followers. I rarely ask for a retweet but I almost always get retweeted minutes after the announcement.
  • I will share my postings Google+ and then people may notice them and tweet them too.
  • After getting shared I say thank you to each and every person who has shared my content. I often also ask a question to start a conversation around my content or the topic in general. I also do this with third party content I share whenever possible.

The key for success on social media sites is being known as a legit user throughout several platforms. I’m active on Twitter, Google+, when it comes to content dealing with my work.

It’s also about being able to cover topics everybody cares about. Any artificial way of posing as someone else or feigning interest in other people will hurt you in the long run.

So don’t pose as a legit user, be one!

Last updated: June 26th, 2015: Rewritten to make it more relevant to social media in general, not just StumbleUpon.


* (CC BY-ND 2.0) Creative Commons image by Jared Keener