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October 24, 2007

My First "Sphinn" Submission. Was it a Success?

By Karl Ribas

Like most of you I’m sure, I decided it was time for me to give Sphinn a try. Earlier this month, I opened an account, created a profile, and began participating in the social voting, commenting, and submitting that is this Digg-like property.

At first, I was content with just using the platform as a means for further search marketing research… going from story to story without so much as even glancing at the “sphinner” – that little wheel that sits beside each story. However, it wasn’t that long after that I began to fall victim to the social experience of it all. I found myself wanting to give some kind of recognition for the better stories that were submitted, in hopes of helping them attain “Hot Topics” or better yet “Greatest Hits” status. So, with my pointer armed and ready, I began “spinning” my favorite reads.

I was having fun, and at the same time I was contributing to the betterment of my “search marketing” self. A true win-win situation. I was certain that “sphinning” stories was going to be the absolute extent to the level of my participation, but I was wrong.

About a week ago, I came across a great post written by Michael Jensen titled “5 Ways to Capitalize on Long Tail Keywords”. I was on Michael’s blog, but decided that I would mosey on over to Sphinn and show some love for his post – I mean it was a well written article and I figured that the community would have already found it, submitted it, and voted on it a couple of times. I was mistaken. Nobody had, and therefore I was compelled to submit the story myself.

I was a little nervous at first. I wanted to make a great first impression by the Sphinn community and really provide them something of value… which in my opinion I was (the number of spins would later prove otherwise). I was very careful when writing my title and description, and was certain that others in the community would enjoy the read as I had.

I monitored the activity on my submission very closely. Within the first few hours I found that it had received 3 additional spins. I was psyched. I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing was an adequate number of votes giving the exact time-frame, but I was just happy knowing that others were interacting with the story. However, on the downside, within those same few hours I had noticed that many new submissions had taken stage, and were actually pushing mine farther down on the first page of the “What’s New” section. I knew then that if I my submission hadn’t received an abundance of spins and quickly (I’m guessing something in the neighborhood of 20 – 25 spins), that I would never make the “What’s Hot Section” and thus be buried in “Sphinn-Hell”. Those votes never came, and it wasn’t all that long before I found myself at the bottom of the page 1 and eventually page 2, 3, and so on.

In the end, my submission received only 5 spins. Was it a total loss? That’s hard for me to say. If I gauge the success of this piece by the sheer number of spins (remember that isn’t a clear representation of its popularity – rather the approval of those who’ve read it) than I would be inclined to say yes, it was a complete loss. However, if I were to gauge the success of this piece based on the generalized standards of any social medium, that is to contribute to the community and invoke participation, than no, it wasn’t a loss at all.

How about you… what do you think? How would you gauge the overall success of a Sphinn submission?

Update: After reading some of the comments below, a few additional thoughts came to mind. I published a short follow-up post over on my blog for anyone that is interested.


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I wouldn't call it a loss at all. IMHO, alot of the voting is based on the avatar.

Some other ways I base success:

1) Who Sphunn it? My first submission recieved only one other sphinn... but it was Danny Sullivan!! Another time it Matt Mcgee... and then he was gracious enough to write a post based on that article and link back to mine.

2) Syndication - 3 or 4 of my posts received just 1 or 2 Sphinns but ended up on search engine watch as 'News Topics' from the week.

I worry only that what I contribute is quality... in that way I am bettering the community. And I spend as much time on pages 2, 3 & 4 as I do on the home page. I think that contributes to the betterment of the community as well.

Karl - I've found you need to get a submission "hot" so it's taken to the first page of the site where it has potential to take off. Giving it a little push by contacting friends to Sphinn helps get that process going. Good content should take it from there. :)

Sphinn is interesting because I think people use it in different ways. As a way to drive targetted traffic and raise profile in the industry I think it's very useful.

However, there is a bit of manipulation going on with friends voting each other up, which is fine and dandy. But when it pushes sub standard content to the fore it reduces the quality of the whole site.

Seo and marketing people should look on it as a useful resource and not a place to be gamed and torn apart. I see it as a second home and very useful in being introduced to new bloggers who are just starting out.

I didn't Sphinn the post in question but have sphunn soloseo before as he produces quality stuff. I think a lot of good posts do get missed because of the noise and there is a recognition factor. I know that certain people always post quality stuff and so always vote for their stuff.

I think one post is far too small a sample to be making a judgment on how good you are doing, you need to submit 20 quality posts.

It's a shame in a way but avatars are important, they are a visual representation of your brand. I have found that getting noticed and having a high recognition factor are important things when it comes to marketing and an avater is an intrinsic part of an individuals online branding strategy.

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