Sphinn is a Dysfunctional Social Network Because Internet Marketers Don’t Understand Social Networking

Eric Lander has a great blog post about Sphinn. If you have not heard of Sphinn.com, Sphinn is a “News, Discussion Forums & Networking for Search & Internet Marketing Professionals” site. It’s Danny Sullivan’s social networking site for internet marketing professionals.

Eric Lander's Blog

Since Eric has written a great post and has pointed to my activity on Sphinn, I thought that I would respond to his blog post and make some observations about Eric’s post, about Sphinn, and, more importantly, point out that the typical search engine marketer does not understand social networking.

Eric points to some interesting statistics. I agree that these statistics are a few weeks old. Nevertheless, they definitely get the point across. Let’s look at the statistics of Sphinn that Eric has collected:

Registered Users: 12,410
Users with 5+ Submissions: 750
Users with 2+ Comments: ~1,300
Users with 1+ Sphinn: 6,259

To be honest with you, Eric, I have to say that I’m not surprised at all with the numbers. Really. You have to understand that the majority of the people who are members of Sphinn are internet marketers, SEOs, Online Marketers, or whatever you want to call them. What they are not is social networkers. Yes, you heard me correctly, the majority of Sphinners (Sphinn members) are not social networkers. Frankly, I would say that the majority of the users on Sphinn “don’t get it”. They do not understand that to build your own personal social network you have to add friends. You have to submit stuff. You have to comment. You have to be active. Yes, you have to vote on stuff.

Unless I’m entirely off base here, and I know I could be – I believe that five submissions would classify a casual user of the network, not a leader.

No, Eric, you’re absolutely not off-base here. You are correct. I would actually say that those Sphinn users who have only submitted 5 things are not even casual users. They are probably search engine marketers who have just “jumped on the bandwagon” and become a member of Sphinn because others in their industry are members there. I would not even all those people casual users, they’re just registered users. That’s it.

Bill Hartzer, The Sphinnmaster
Bill Hartzer (bhartzer) has cast 10,427 Sphinns. The next active user, Maki (DoshDosh) has 5,108 Sphinns. That’s 48.9% of the actvity of Bill. In other words, Bill’s out there giving our Sphinns like candy on Halloween. Stopping short of accusing Bill of just sphinning everything he sees, I’ll say this… Bill has 1 comment for every 100 sphinns cast. Continuing the comparison, DoshDosh has nearly 5 comments per 100 sphinns cast. aimclear, Sphinn’s third most active user produces nearly 12 commens per 100 sphinns.

I’m sorry Bill, I just don’t see how you can vote for that many items without providing more commentary. I’m certainly open to your response though. Am I just assuming too much on the numbers?

Thanks for bringing this up. Yes, really. I’m very glad that you have pointed out that I am active. Obviously very active. Take a look at how many friends I have on Sphinn. I have to admit that I visit every single day (sometimes more than once a day) and look at the Sphinn home page. And yes, I don’t have any problem with Sphinning (or voting) on everything on the home page. I actually use the Sphinn home page as one of my personal news sources. It’s a great way to keep up with what’s really going on in the industry.

who sphunn this

Let’s take a look at another reason why I am so active on Sphinn. I love being active. In fact, voting is a part of being active in the social networking communities. Part of being active means that you vote on your friends’ stuff. And oh yeah, have you seen the “who Sphunn this” link on the Sphinn pages?

who sphinned this

Wow, that’s a link back to your profile. In fact, those are links back to your profile. I guess you could actually say that there are probably 10,427 links back to my profile page on Sphinn.

Regarding the comments? Well, let me just say that you probably have never met me in person. I do admit, though, that I really need to start commenting more. Could you consider this blog post one large comment. Perhaps. Take a look, though at how many others are commenting. Some are just more talkative than others.

Is there enough data?

Sphinn is a new social networking community. There is enough data to make some pretty broad assumptions here. In fact, although Sphinn’s goal is to be a social networking community for search marketers and SEM topics, you have to realize what they community is made up of. A social network is only as good as its user base. Sphinn is made up search engine marketers. Search engine marketers are search engine marketers, They know PPC, they know SEO, they know how to get links to sites. Search engine marketers, the majority of Sphinn users, are not social networking experts. The typical search engine marketer does not understand social media. And the numbers really show it. The majority of Sphinn users are not active. Friends’ stats are not available, but I would imagine that most Sphinn users have not added a lot of friends to their network.

Is there enough data? Yes. Is Sphinn the typical social networking community? Absolutely not. It’s a great community of search engine marketers. The typical Internet Marketer does not understand social networking. And that is not a bad thing.

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  1. Eric Lander says

    I love it Bill, this is an excellent response. It speaks to the class that you have and your willingness to share your point of view on my post and social communities in general.

    This deserves to get more attention, and I’ll certainly do my part to see that happens.

  2. David Jaeger says

    I guess I can add myself to the “search engine marketers” who just “don’t get social networking”.

    I haven’t taken the time to flesh out social networking fully – and yet, when I do submit articles, it’s often after reading through a couple related ones and sphinning them..

  3. Brian Wallace - NowSourcing says

    Well played, Bill. SEO is not Social Media. Social Media is not SEO. Imagine seeing a blackboard of that, Bart Simpson style.

    Also, FWIW: Bill is very active on several social networks, so it would stand to reason that he would be active on Sphinn as well.

    I’ve never met Bill, am not part of the Friends for Bill Campaign, etc. Just speaking my mind on the subject.


  4. says

    Nice response, Bill. Bottom line: your strategy involves sphinning everything that has been sphunn hot. That sort of defines a trend, doesn’t it?

    We continue to see “linear thinking” applied toour non-linear world. I suppose exponential curves made data analysis harder, but once you go non-linear, you never look back!

  5. jaybong says

    Just because the title tag says networking doesn’t mean that’s what everyone uses it for. As you said you use it to keep up with the news (as do I). My guess is that the majority of people are not there to network. What’s good about sphinn is that you can use it as a news site, a forum or to network. Since networking is the hardest and most time consumingof the 3 it’s no suprise that their are few people doing it well.

  6. Ambit says

    I don’t understand any of these social linking sites. In fact, the one or two posts I’ve had Stumbled or Dugg or whatever, have served to do nothing but increase my bounce rate.
    Sphinn means nothing to me as a Noob blogger.

  7. Lisa Ditlefsen says

    Hi Bill,
    Some really good points, but I must admit I disagree. Saying that someone is not a Social Media marketeer or expert just because they don’t Sphinn loads is a bit of an assumption. In fact, I do SEO, PPC and SMO. And have done several successful campaigns for big clients targeting social networks. But I do don’t Sphinn or add friends on Sphinn every day. Although I do use Sphinn in much the same way as you, to keep up to date. I read the homepage, if anything catches my eye I will visit the source and comment on the blog rather than on Sphinn. And I only really submit anything if I, or one of the SEO-Chicks have written anything I think is particularly good and that I want to share. That I actually think can make the homepage! Maybe this is not the “right” way to use Sphinn but that doesn’t mean I’m not a Social Media expert 😉

    cheers, LisaD

  8. SEO Canada says

    Dysfunction at its finest :)

    “I guess you could actually say that there are probably 10,427 links back to my profile page on Sphinn.”

  9. Iriver E100 Review says

    Great post. you are right, there are a lot of internet marketers that aren’t doing it good.

  10. Discount Party Supplies Gudie says

    Mixing social networking and internet marketer is not the best of ideas. Most Spinn users vote for stories that directly benefit them.. This, in return, makes the site rather pointless.

  11. zohai says

    I agree! Lots of Social Network sites get flooded with internet marketters just like what is happening to Twitter now. @.@ Sad to see.

  12. Ping G10 Driver says

    For most types of websites I do not think that social media is a good way to promote them. The only sites that I think that can effectively be promoted using social bookmarking and social media are sites that you are trying to brand. Social media is very good for building a brand, but not to just get traffic.

  13. flip flops says

    Internet marketers wont have much use from social sites. Only couple of them at the top, but the rest of the not really. So why would they lose time? They will only increase bounce rate, as Ambit said here. Plus, decrease your CTR if you have AdSense. And most marketers make money from adsense.

    Sphinn could be used only for backlinks, but since that is spam tactic, its no wonder there are so few people actually posting their links there.

  14. Calvin says

    I think I will be added to one of those people.

    Nice list and nice points there by the way.

  15. Southwest Rugs says

    Sound pretty dysfunctional alright. Internet marketers aren’t doing good anymore. Thanks for the great post.

  16. sleuth1 says

    yep, i belong to the lazy seo marketers club,however I appreciate the sphinns Bill( and others) casts my way , because i have no real interest in making friends or even common chit chat on sphinn , submissions tend to get over looked , so it is important that someone does bother to put the extraordinary time and energy out to cast so many votes and leave so many comments Thanks Bil .

  17. How to earn online says

    So, I don’t agree. I do feel Sphinn is still developing but it still has potential. It just needs to clean its act up a bit..