Site icon Bill Hartzer

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.

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.

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?

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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