Social Bookmarks – Bad for Blogs?

DeliciousThere has been an interesting debate going on this week over social bookmarks on blogs and whether or not its a great idea or downright tacky.

Matt over at 37 signals started the virtual debate with this post examining the fact that none of the top 10 blogs on Technorati are using social bookmarking strips like the kind you will see here on Content Quake. He argues that it is great content that will bring about those diggable posts, not “vote for me pleas.”

So think twice before badgering readers with “vote for me” pleas. The hectoring is tiresome, it results in extraneous visual noise, it makes your site look cheap, and the benefits are dubious at best. Instead, focus on delivering great content. If you do, people will figure out how to spread the word just fine.

Rand over at SEO Moz continues the discourse and disagrees that when it comes to social bookmarking and great content, it doesnt have to be a one or the other thing.

To me, his post is generally awful. The examples he uses to back up his assertion that those buttons are ineffective is overly narrow and shows no real data supporting or rejecting his assesment.

Lee over at Top Rank was talking about this very thing before the conversation was started as well in his post titled, Spamming Social Media.

Any experienced search or social media marketer knows there are ways to initially “boost” articles on social media sites, but that can only go so far. In most cases, the articles hit the “popular” list ( or first page (Digg) based on merit, not manipulation. ie, it’s pretty tough to “fake” the number of votes required to get that kind of placement. And even if they are faked, there is the self policing editorial process of the community and algorithmic detection of “group voting”.

My take –

I think I side with Rand on this more than the others, and the three above are not the only ones talking about it either. Social bookmarking icons on blogs to me are a positive thing. It allows readers to virally get the word out about an article to an unlimited number of readers. If I like an article and send it to 10 people via email, and they send it to 20 others, chances are it will not be seen by nearly as many as if the article got 20 diggs.

I think the other main thing to remember is that even though a big day on digg or delicious does not guarantee continued traffic spikes, if even a small percentage of that traffic becomes a loyal reader, its more than worth have the icons present on your blog.