09 July 2007

Duncan thinks you're a tool

Duncan Black, author of the popular liberal blog Eschaton, sometimes likes to shed some light on what it's like to be one of those important people in social media who gets 600 solicitations a day. WE MUST LEARN FROM HIM:
I get about 600 emails per day to my blog email address, with very little of it being classic "Viagra and Nigerian scam" spam. I get lots of great info and tips, but I also get lots of other things. People email to complain about haloscan, or for other technical difficulties. People email to request I delete a comment they posted which accidentally revealed unwanted personal information, or to complain about people I should ban or the fact that I did ban people. Dozens of people add me to their generic "forward list," forwarding to me - and dozens of others - everything on the internets they find interesting. I get criticism, with some of it being thoughtful and interesting commentary on stuff I've written, but much of it is of the "what you should do with your blog" flavor. That is, people who insist that their priorities should be my priorities, that their interests should take precedent over my own.

Then there's being added to the press list of practically every campaign in the universe, along with those of every interest group under the sun. Plus the numerous people who request links to their organization or some focus on their issue, and that doesn't even include that fast swelling ranks of "word of mouth" marketers who spend their time trying to get bloggers to promote their latest whatever.

There's also the time spent trying to manage a community, which is actually a rather complex task that takes a lot of time even though it really benefits a relatively small number of readers. I love the comments community, and I'd be bored without it, but the fact is that the vast majority of people who read this site neither read nor participate in it.

Truth is I've learned a lot about "blogger outreach" by reading these types of things from Duncan. It's incredibly difficult for anyone to fight through the noise to get to him, and then it's just as difficult for him to find the time to address your concerns. His blog is a perfect example of where a paid blogad has tremendous value for the money. Furthermore, he will occassionally write about the things in his ad columns. And while you should make no mistake about his liberal political biases, he's thoughtful and smart.

Bottom line - Duncan does what he does because he likes it. He doesn't need attention (though he gets plenty) and he doesn't really need a ton of money. He's not a journalist who worries about both sides of an argument, and he's completely up front about that. Most importantly, he realizes that his blog is not simply about him -- it's about the hundreds of thousands of people that read his blog every week, that offer input, and that act when prompted.

If you're one of those "word of mouth" guys marketing your "latest whatever," without buying an ad, you better have some really strong relevance to what he's doing or thinking because if you don't you're not getting past the trash.

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