On February 19th I posted an article called “The Paradox of Self-Promotion with Social Media.” I was honored by the success of the article. The post made the front page of Digg, became popular on Mixx, and sat atop a couple of keyword lists on StumbleUpon. This attention was valuable not just because of the traffic driven to this blog but because of the conversations which resulted.
I have spoken with many people via email and social sites about the paradox of self-promotion. Agreements were offered, disagreements put forth, and from these discussions I realized that the original article is not actually complete. Or perhaps it is complete, but engenders another question. That question is:
“When do I stop promoting myself?”
This question is just as important as any of the questions tackled in the original post. In the first post I argued that self-promotion in the social media world is not only possible, but necessary in the early stages of your blog/video/website. But what did I mean by “early stages?” At what point are your done with the early stages? Unfortunately, there is not sign post along the road to give you an incontrovertible landmark by which to travel. To know where you are in your journey, you are going to have to experiment a little. These experiments are not hard, they just require some willpower on your part.
But why bother to experiment, why not just keep promoting all of your own stuff? This is also a valid question. The answer is two-fold. First, self-promotion can be time consuming. The labor might not break your back, but think of all the time you could save if your readers and fans had assumed the mantle of promotion for you. Second, if you continue to rigorously submit all of your own content to sites like Stumble, Digg, Reddit, and Sphinn then you lose the possibility that a more powerful user will submit your content. Think about it, MrBabyMan might have submitted your awesome new video to Digg and that would have counted for a lot in both viewers and chance of reaching the front page, but if he were the second to digg it after you, you would have lost all that potential.
So when do you stop promoting yourself? When do you perform this little test? Right now. If you are anything other than brand-spankin’-new, then take a chance and don’t promote you next post/video at all. You won’t know if anyone likes you enough to submit you to social sites if you don’t give them a chance. I see so many people submitting their own content to every site right after they publish it. I too have been guilty of this. So take your next post, suck it up, be willing to forego the 100 stumble visitors that you would have gotten, and see what happens. If the experiment fails miserably and after 3-4 days nobody submits your content anywhere, then you know you have more work to do. Go back to your content creation, work on building subscribers and fans, and go back to helping yourself along by promoting yourself. But don’t forget to take a chance once a month and see where you stand. You never know, next month you might have twice as many subscribers and realize that TheNanny612, Zaibatsu, and DoshDosh all think your stuff is great. You wont know if you don’t stop for a second and take a look.