Submitting stories, blog posts and articles to social news sites such as Digg, Mixx, Sphinn and others can be very time-consuming but if done properly, can also have huge payoffs. Why then do so many people shoot themselves in the foot by not following proper etiquette? Is there such a thing as “social bookmarking etiquette?” Certainly there is! Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to get the most out of your social bookmarking activities.
1. Remove Blog Name and/or Sections From Title
Many blogs are already set up in a manner where only the title of the post or story appears in the title tag. However, an equal number are not and may be formatted something like this:
Story Title | Blog Name
I have even seen examples like the one below which is a Fox News story:
FOXNews.com – California 2-Year-Old Dragged From Yard by Coyote in Third Such Attack in Five Days – Local News | News Articles | National News | US News
I have bolded the actual title of the story – all the other stuff is related to the blog and section in which the story is located.
When blog titles and even blog descriptions are left in, it not only takes away from the title of the story, it increases the workload for editors and moderators of the social news site that care about the quality of new submissions. This is not to mention that you minimize the chance that your submission will be voted popular by the community at large.
2. Include Appealing Descriptions (Stay Within Character Limitations)
We all know how important it is to have a catchy title that attracts the attention of the reader, but often neglected is the importance having a good description as well. Typically, people submitting items to social news sites copy and paste the beginning paragraph of the story for their description. When doing this, it is good practice to point out that it is either an excerpt or accredit the description to the author. For example, in this recent Sphinn submission for a post authored by Lee Odden, I copied the opening paragraph but accredited him as writing it.
Lee Odden writes, “Right along with Facebook, YouTube and blogging, Twitter is one of the most often written about social media communication tools. We’ve run polls about how people use Twitter as well as aggregated tips from the Twitter community on how to get the most productivity out of it. This post shares a few new Twitter tools you may find useful.”
In other scenarios, you can copy the opening paragraph but change it up a bit so it better describes to story as I did in this example of a recent post by Danny Sullivan:
Danny Sullivan provides some nifty search tools to check out including a way to quickly search blogs & social media sites all at once, a new video search tool, a study into automatic search queries, an awesome Twitter search tool, a way to track search rankings over time and a compilation of Google help info for site owners, from Google, in PDF form.
One of the things that bugs me the most is when the description is cut off. This often happens because the submitter exceeds the character limits of the social news site. It is pure laziness! If the description you are using exceeds the characters allowed, shorten it. It is not that difficult and can go a long way in attracting readers to actually read the story.
3. Submit to the Most Relevant Category (Avoid Multiples if Allowed)
I love the social news site Mixx. However, one pet peeve I have is that they allow stories to be submitted to multiple categories. It is not that some submissions do not deserve to be in multiple categories but rather that it is often abused. People will submit to as many categories as they possibly can in a feeble attempt to gain more exposure for the story. It actually has quite the opposite effect and turns community members off. They may even vote down your submission or report it as spam.
So, even with sites like Mixx that allow multiple categories for submissions, select the most appropriate and don’t abuse the liberty of being able to assign your submission to multiple categories.
4. Stay Within The Topic of the Social News Site
Many social news sites have a specific topic. Sphinn for example is related to the search and social media industries. Small Business Brief is geared towards small businesses. So what does an article on “weight loss” or “laptop batteries” have to do with these sites? And yet I often see submissions such as these showing up in the “recently submitted” sections, at least until an editor or moderator zaps them.
I just don’t see the logic here. Do the submitters think that their unrelated stories will stick and even if they do, that they will be voted popular by the community? People who behave in this manner are simply wasting their time. Unfortunately for them, many are too dumb to even realize their folly and often return again and again, repeating the same mistakes until they are finally banished forever.
5. Will Others Find Your Submission of Interest?
Last but certainly not least, try to submit stories that others will be interested in. I have seen some of the dumbest, most boring and uninteresting things submitted to social news sites. Some even go as far as to send out “shouts” or “share” the submission with people they are linked up to. If it is not something of value (i.e, breaking news, resourceful, brilliant, funny), keep it to yourself. No one else cares and if you submit enough boring stuff, it is a sure way to get people to ignore you.
Have I missed anything? I’d love to hear about additional abuses of social news etiquette in the comments section. Who knows, maybe some of those who commonly abuse social news sites will come across this post and be enlightened.