Colin Walker

on social media, tech, blogging and the internet.

Running with the pack?

Wolf PackYesterday, Michael Martine of Remarkablogger posted the concept of using a ‘blog pack‘ to enhance the promotion of your site. A blog pack is a group of bloggers who set up an ‘alliance’ to cross promote each others sites by way of comments, links, stumbles, etc. in order to:

– Get established
– Build personal networks
– Increase traffic
– Increase RSS subscribers
– Get organic backlinks

At the time I commented that as bloggers we tend to do this anyway; we gravitate towards those with similar interests and, as we leave comments or hook up on social networking sites, develop a relationship and a mutual respect which invariably leads to interlinking and cross promotion. The blog pack is a way of formalising this relationship.

There is the possibility that some people might take offence at the suggestion of being ‘obliged’ to promote others and, as such, we would have to be careful when suggesting the idea in case we undo any good that our existing online relationships provide.

Gaming?

Chris Garrett has set up a blog pack over at the Authority Bloggers forum which has attracted some considerable interest. Each member should follow the others on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feeds of each blog involved and the interact by way of comments and cross promotion. While this is great idea in principle I can see some potential pitfalls:

  • the pack may be too large and unwieldy
  • being an unfocused group it may lead to disinterest
  • the risk of being accused of gaming the system

Michael argues that a group of like minded bloggers creating a pack is just a “sped-up version of what happens naturally” and so is networked growth rather than gaming but, what about a group created especially for this purpose such as that at Authority Bloggers? Is such a group at risk of being banned by StumbleUpon for gaming the system as they continue to crack down on abuse of the system, for example?

Simplification

If a blog pack gets too unweildy then maybe – as Chris suggested to me – it could be sub-divided. This may also help with the issue of the members being an unfocused group. Dividing members into smaller, related sections based on blog topics etc. would help to restore some relevance.

I had originally opted in but the concerns listed above have made me rethink and withdraw (if you are an AB Blog Pack member feel free to unsubscribe) especially as I have been making an effort to streamline my RSS feeds and connections.

If nothing else this is an interesting social experiment and it will be interesting to see where it leads.

Your thoughts

Do groups of bloggers need to formalise their cross promotion strategies or is the natural development of relationships enough? Would you be offended by being asked to participate by a contact? Is creating an artificial blog pack gaming the system?

UPDATE: Chris has updated the pack instructions with what I consider to be a far more sensible, and workable set of guidelines including: “Audition, do not think everyone expects permanent residency in your feed reader! Same with Twitter, keep those who gel, lose those who do not”.

Image by ‘skirkybaby’.

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May 15, 2008 - Posted by | Blogging, Social Media | ,

15 Comments »

  1. While the possible ways in this might go wrong are many, to go around them is easy.

    It is not compulsory to stay subscribed to all blogs in the pack.

    One doesn’t have to bookmark and share posts that he/she doesn’r like.

    All the pack requires is a commitment towards attention when it is deserved. If you like, do comment, and bookmark, and share. If you don’t, move on, or wait till the blogger in question comes up with something you like.

    Comment by vimoh | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  2. I look at this as an opportunity to find out about new folks. I’ve added everybody onto Twitter, and I’ve added the OPML file to my feed reader. I don’t plan on reading everything in the folder; I’ll glance at the headlines until I find something that catches my interest and read that. (This is how I found this article!) If I like the article, I’ll help promote it, if not then I will ignore it. If somebody on Twitter bugs me, then I’ll stop following them.

    I figure that it is worth taking a look at anyway.

    Comment by Blaine Moore | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  3. I agree with Michael that it’s a speeding-up of the natural social process. We can meet new people one at a time as we go through our days, or go to a big party and meet a lot at once. Either way, we meet and chat a while, but choose to maintain contact with those who add value of some sort to our lives.

    While I absolutely respect your decision to leave the party early, of course – the analogy continues to hold – just glad you stopped in long enough so I had a chance to be introduced to your blog!

    Last blog post..rjleaman: @jonathanfields Cool. which island, do you know?

    Comment by rjleaman | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  4. Good points folks. I’ll probably still flick through the list and subscribe to a few as I have now been exposed to a list ratherthan as part of the ‘pack process’.

    Whilst it is not compulsory to stay subscribed to everyone it does defeat the intent behind the pack which is to support each other rather than have a potential for this to be one way traffic. Perhaps dividing the pack into topic areas would be a start in order to reduce the perceived load on those taking part.

    Still, thanks for stopping by – it’s appreciated.

    Comment by Colin | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  5. I personally think the idea is brilliant, especially for new bloggers or bloggers who have plateaued in reader growth. I agree that it could be construed as gaming to some extent, but isn’t that what social media is all about? Getting a group of people together for a common purpose?

    I think Chris nailed it by making participation voluntary. I’m following people I wouldn’t have before and learning. I’m reading blogs I wouldn’t have before (including this one) and learning. And just like a pack of wolves (clever picture choice!) the weak will be left for dead and the strongest of the pack will bond and support each other.

    Last blog post..Cooperate To Thrive?

    Comment by baldeagle | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  6. I actually think the size of the pack makes it impossible to follow every feed and support every pack member. My guess is it will organically sort itself out pretty quickly, with the strongest content getting the most gain.

    Thanks to Vimoh for twittering this post, or I wouldn’t have seen it! I like your blog, will poke around and check out some more of your stuff. 🙂

    Last blog post..8 Ways to Use Numbers in Headlines

    Comment by Sonia Simone | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  7. Love this post Colin. I don’t have any kind of agreement with other bloggers. But I can see a loose pack of bloggers with whom I connect during a typical week (you, for instance!). We’re not cross-linking and cross-promoting in each others’ blogs through any explicit agreement. But it does seem to happen on its own. And on FriendFeed, with likes, comments and shares, this “running with the pack” does seem to be occurring.

    Last blog post..On FriendFeed, We’re All TV Channels

    Comment by bhc3 | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  8. Of course, it’s great if bloggers support each other. But I really think it should happen organically. What’s the point in suscribing to a pack of feeds if I can unsubscribe later on? Worst case is suddenly having 10/50/100 new subscribers, only to find out that all have unsubscribed a few weeks later. And that defeats the notion that growth happened anyway.

    Last blog post..Aggregation of Shared Items from FeedDemon?

    Comment by Carsten Pötter | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  9. Lately I’ve been more of a fan of organic growth than “manufactured” growth via groups or even from traffic bursts from social media (I know, I must be losing it!)

    However, I’m interested in trying out this experiment even if it doesn’t lead to a long term reader or traffic explosion. I’m interested in seeing what happens. However, if it’s too big, as you consider above, it may get to be too messy to be useful.

    Here’s to science!

    Last blog post..What did you do while Twitter was down Wednesday

    Comment by Mark Dykeman | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  10. @Carsten, exactly what I was thinking. If it’s too large to be managable then you might as well just have a list and say choose what interests you rather than any obligation to be part of the pack.

    Comment by Colin | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  11. i think that as we expand our friend bases, we can show ‘mutual love’ in the format that you mention, voluntarily, through some sort of organized fashion. maybe even a official regimen. i have thinking about this for quite some time and am seriously considering making some official ground rules for implementation. still voluntary and without ‘gaming’ fears in networks such as SU.

    it would be nice to see some sort of ‘drop box’ site for links..to be continued..dont wanna give it all away of course. its a plan i havent worked out the details to yet. 😉

    Last blog post..Green Social Media Gurus

    Comment by spostareduro | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  12. […] Read more Colin Walker » Running with the pack? […]

    Pingback by Cross Promotion - Is It Gaming? | May 15, 2008 | Reply

  13. Colin, thanks for carrying the conversation over here. I never said what I thought would be the ideal pack size except as the name “pack” implies, it can’t be large or it becomes unmanageable. I see pack size as starting at about 5 and not really growing beyond 20.

    Comment by Michael Martine - Remarkablogger | May 16, 2008 | Reply

  14. Like everything in nature, too much is a bad thing, and there is always a way of culling the pack or the herd down to manageable proportions.

    Chris’s idea was somewhat good, but it didn’t create a natural, mutually beneficial pack based on good relationships. It gamed the system (sorry, Chris). While I put my name up, I wouldn’t give benefits to another blogger just because, without the blog earning my nod of appreciation.

    Sound harsh? Possibly. I don’t mean it to be.

    What I do mean is that smaller packs of people that mutually benefit each other in natural ways are more solid and have a better chance of survival than a large pack that will eventually shake off the excess like fleas.

    Comment by James Chartrand - Men with Pens | May 16, 2008 | Reply

  15. […] Colin Walker shared his perspective on blog packs and ended his post by asking a series of questions.  Do groups of bloggers need to formalise their cross promotion strategies or is the natural development of relationships enough? Would you be offended by being asked to participate by a contact? Is creating an artificial blog pack gaming the system? […]

    Pingback by notes, thoughts, ideas and responses » Most Blog Packs Will Fail Because They Do Not Help The Community | May 17, 2008 | Reply


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