Community. Sharing. Social. These unfortunates are just three of the buzz words that have been ruthlessly stripped of all meaning by the internet. These poor words have been battered and bruised at the hands of “social sharing community” websites, where content spinners and article spammers congregate to click on upvoting buttons.
And I’m sick of it. And I’m giving up on online sharing communities, like SERPd and Blokube and Digg. And it’s not because they’ve mistreated those poor, unassuming little words.
It’s because these websites are a waste of my time, and yours.
Why I’m Giving up on Social Sharing Websites
On the surface of it, social sharing websites seem like a haven for bloggers. Tap into an audience, network with people, have conversations and generate interest.
But, unfortunately, I’m yet to find a social sharing website that provides any of that.
The main problem with social sharing sites is that the same old recycled posts are promoted by the same old voting rings. On the three main sharing sites I checked, the top posts on the day Google announced the integration of Google+ with Google search were all blogging posts about blogging by power users.
If you’re not being rewarded for on-topic posts that explore developing situations in your field, then what exactly are you using these sites for?
If it’s to have meaningful conversations, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
You get better conversation in your blog comments
I can count the number of truly great conversations I’ve had on SERPd, Sphinn, Blogengage and Blokube on one hand. Without using any of my fingers.
One decent conversation, and that was with an ex-colleague, and an SEO I regularly chat to on Twitter.
I’m fairly certain that you’d be hard pushed to remember more than two or three meaningful conversations on a sharing site. But if I asked you if you can remember a great conversation thread hanging off a blog post, you’re guaranteed to have a few.
In fact, a quick look at the latest conversations widget on one of my preferred sharing sites shows nothing but the sort of “Buy Ugg Boot” and “I like you please can I has link please” comments that I have to spend 20 minutes a day deleting from Unmemorable Title.
If you’re looking for a conversation about a post, do it in the comments section. Whether you’re commenting on a relatively small site, or the likes of Copyblogger, you’re far more likely to have an interesting conversation if it’s not held on a third party website.
Still, it’s not all about conversation. Surely social sharing sites generate traffic?
You’ll generate more interest on Twitter
In the past 12 months, I’ve submitted all of my posts to Twitter and SERPd. I’ve submitted around half to Facebook and Blokube, and a mere handful to StumbleUpon.
If social sharing sites were worth your time and effort, they’d deliver huge amounts of traffic from their large userbases.
Unfortunately, the statistics don’t back up the claims of the sharing sites.
In 2011, over 50% of UnmemorableTitle’s referral traffic (discounting search engines and direct traffic) came from Twitter.
Of all the social sharing sites I use, only SERPd made the list, and social sites delivered around 7% of total site traffic. Impressive enough, except when you look at the quality of traffic delivered.
Twitter delivers interested parties who spend a few minutes reading a post. Users of social sharing sites only spend a few seconds deciding they’d rather promote their own content than read yours.
But if it’s not generating interest, it’s at least helping you meet people, right?
You’re not expanding your network
Do you honestly think that anyone’s using these social sharing websites to build contacts, and go in for a bit of that altruistic “sharing other people’s content” nonsense? Of course you don’t. That’s ridiculously naive of you.
The vast majority of people who use social sharing sites aren’t interested in voting on or reading your blog posts. They’re certainly not interested in subscribing to your RSS feed, following you on Twitter or buying your ebook.
All they’re interested in is posting their content for an easy backlink.
The people that you should be networking with are elsewhere, sharing things on Facebook and Google+, and retweeting like crazy on Twitter. So if you want to expand your network, start using sites designed for socialising. And if you want to be really retro, drop fellow bloggers an email.
They’re more likely to respond to that than an upvote.
So, if these sites are useless for conversations, traffic generation and networking, should you be wasting time with them?
Your time is better invested on your own website
In short, no. You shouldn’t.
If you’re hoping to get anything out of a social sharing site, you’re going to need to invest huge amounts of time into becoming a power user, and all for relatively modest gains.
So why not spend time on your own website, instead of creating free content for the owner of a social sharing site?
Instead of attempting to influence egotists with crawling comments, spend that time writing blog posts, perfecting a new design, crafting an email newsletter or working on an ebook.
Because if you want people to visit your website, you need to focus your energy on creating a website that’s worth visiting.
If you think UnmemorableTitle is worth visiting, why not follow the latest posts on Facebook?