With me today is Glen Allsopp (yes, I checked the spelling unlike everyone else that trips up on the n’s, l’s and p’s 🙂 ). Thanks for joining me.
Thanks Brian, that does get quite annoying but I’m assuming it’s an american thing to use the 2 n’s. Glad to be doing the interview.
1 – Cool. So tell us a little about yourself. Most of us that have been keeping up with you know that you’re one of the younger members of the social media revolution (although Adam Fuhrer has got you beat, he’s 13) and have heard about your travels between your homeland of the UK and South Africa. Tell us a little about yourself and what got you interested in social media in the first place?
Basically I had just turned 16, was in a rubbish part-time job and wanted to earn some money on the side so I could quit and focus more on college. I started building websites in order to sell them, and as anyone will tell you, the value goes up substantially if you can show a large number of backlinks and decent traffic stats. I originally started out focusing on SEO and had some great results earning over $1,000 in a month just from online wages, which wasn’t bad at 16. I then continued this and setup ViperChill when I was 17, offering services to others from what I had learned in the past.
I found social media just to be a great way to get involved in building traffic from blogs and the social news sites. I setup a ‘test’ site to further my experiments, in the first month I had a link from 4 of the Technorati Top 100, was featured on Techmeme and built up over 2,000 links.
2 – I find that many folks try to get into social media, but try as they might, they don’t seem to get it. There is often a misunderstanding of “using a community for traffic” vs. “being a valuable member of the community”. Can you give us an idea of how much time you spend per day on social media?
There is definitely a misunderstanding of social media, which usually occurs when people blank out the word social and just think it’s all another marketing tool, I’m glad to say that those people probably don’t get very far. Regarding how much time I spend on the sites, really depends on the definition, for example I wouldn’t say I spend more than an hour a day on Digg / Mixx but always leave Google Reader open to be able to check on new stories. As far as StumbleUpon I’m not much of a friend user I just submit whatever I find interesting and see what happens from there, usually what I find interesting is related to internet marketing though so my on site ‘friends’ enjoy the content as well. At max that would be 1-2 hours per day, but I definitely class blogging as social media so that goes up a bit. As an example a post I’ve just wrote for search engine land took me over an hour, and some of my own blog posts can easily take 30-60 minutes so it can add up.
3 – You’ve recently made a decision to join up with a marketing company to handle their social media, rather than only continue on in your own company, ViperChill. While I can fully respect any confidentiality here, can you tell us a little bit about doing social media for yourself (your company) as it compares to working in more of a corporate environment for someone else? Also, how do you split out your time on your blog vs. Viperchill clients?
To start things off, I no longer take on clients for ViperChill, I will usually refer them elsewhere to someone like Jim Tobin for Social Media or the SEOmoz recommend list for SEO. When I did do work though it’s certainly very different, the clients I could pull on my own weren’t usually large (a couple were) and didn’t really have the resources to create Facebook applications, blog widgets or videos for a YouTube campaign. I actually find it hard working from home, my concentrations levels can be down especially when I have friends asking me to go out all the time. What I try to do is get as much out of the way as quick as possible, even if it’s working a 20 hour day just so I can have a bit of lenience to blog and network online knowing that I don’t have as much work to worry about. My schedule isn’t great and it’s something I’m working on as my plan for 2008.
4 – Any advice for folks that are trying to enter the social media arena? What networks should they start on first and why? Or, should they start on a single network? Also, do you think that it is a necessity for them to at least start with a blog?
It really depends on what people are trying to get out of it, whether it’s for personal gain or client gain. I absolutely hate Reddit but I know it can drive traffic so it’s still something I get involved with, and I’m slowly moving away from Digg on a personal level because I just don’t enjoy the community as much and using the site. If it’s for personal reasons like promoting a blog I would use StumbleUpon, add friends who are submitting content they find interesting and basically promoting the content of other sites in their niche. It can be easier to start with just one site if you are new to the whole thing, I would define Mixx as StumbleUpon’s community and Digg’s system so that can also be a good place to start, whatever the user prefers using.
5 – What would you say that your best personal strength is in social media? I’d say you’re a stats man, but I don’t want to compartmentalize your talents.
I would say it’s more in creating linkbait style posts, although i don’t do enough of them on my blog. I only did the stats posts because I knew people would find them interesting, they were a lot of work but the results were worth it and i think it showed some clear facts about the sites. The StumbleUpon stats post received 53,776 visitors from StumbleUpon in 1 month, whilst the 1 about Digg made the Digg homepage. While my stats posts have done well I would say it’s just a part of creating content that people would find interesting. Although anyone can be known for creating interesting linkbait, the likes of yourself, Lyndon and Maki it’s still a good quality to have.
6 – No doubt you’ve heard by now the recent Digg revolt. For those that haven’t heard, early am this Thursday many of the top Diggers were fed up with the recent Digg algorithm change that effectively handicapped the top users by making their submission stay in upcoming until around 200 diggs. An organized boycott was coming into place, right on The Drill Down.
What’s your stance on all this? Do you think that having Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson jumping in on The Drill Down is too little, too late?
You know its rather funny and nobody will believe me but I have a post going live tomorrow that is called ‘Digg’s $300m Mistake – Reputation Management’ which basically highlights all their communication issues. I added a little update to it today (I created it on tuesday) that links to Tamar’s post on the subject. I definitely think its too little too late, they still didn’t answer why they don’t respond to emails, that in itself is disgusting in my opinion, and dodged a few questions if I’m correct?
That you are. I can understand that the sheer volume of emails Digg must get could be heavy, but ignoring its loyal user base is a mistake.
It shouldn’t have taken all of this to happen just to get them to answer some questions, they really do lack in reputation management skills and that is costing them badly.
7 – How do you think Digg will end up now?
Digg will still have a large community and be a popular website, the issues people have been talking about have been around for a while and it’s usually the marketers complaining (unless it’s about bannings). I for one have lost regard for the site and it’s owners and I’m sure a lot of others have aswell but it’s certainly going to take a while for them to lose their huge amount of traffic and stop being the leader in this field.
8 – You say that they eventually will stop being the leader in this field. Any predictions as to who will be successor to the throne?
I think they that IF they stop being the leader it’s not going to happen overnight, it’s not like they have suddenly started banning users / sites and started ignoring emails. I’ve sent emails over a year ago that never received a response so they do have issues but many are nothing new. As you can probably tell from the tone of this interview I would love Mixx to be the successor I’m just not sure they have the brand that can stop them being seen as another ‘Digg-clone’, which is a shame because they offer a lot more. I think everyone was surprised when StumbleUpon announced they had over 2 million members (double Digg at the time) so its definitely doing better. To keep things on the homepage voting style sites though I would love Mixx to be the king if you like, but that’s unlikely for quite some time.
9 – Great stuff! Any final thoughts?
For people getting into social media, don’t just do it because you want to drive traffic or do work for clients. Do it because you enjoy doing it, I’m using Digg less and less because I’m starting to grow to not liking using it but it still has great potential. Start a blog, network with others in your niche and see how things go from there. And remember, it’s never too late to start. I’m only 18
and although I’m in a good position and have a good understanding, I’ve seen 40+ year olds make as much a success of their efforts.
Thanks for the interview Brian, I enjoyed doing it.