Sphinnterview With Bob Gladstein

Author: Gab Goldenberg

Recently, Sphinn has changed from a vote-driven (read:clique) system to editor-driven (read:non-social) system. This explains any things that seem out of place. Besides that, this continues our Sphinn Interview series, which previously featured Pat Altoft, Sebastian, and Dave Harry.

Bob GladsteinBob Gladstein is the chief boss man (my words) at Raise My Rank, which offers SEO services in Somerville, MA. To thank him for his kindness with this interview, I’ve hotlinked the picture on his about page. ;D

1) What benefits have you seen from your activity at Sphinn?

It’s gotten me a decent amount of traffic on the rare occasion that I blog about search marketing and submit those posts. For the most part, though, I find that it works well as a news aggregator. If I don’t have time to go through all of the search feeds I subscribe to (which seems to be the case at least half the time), I can at least scan through what’s going on at Sphinn.

2) Share 3 – 5 key elements of your success with Sphinn.

I’m not sure you can say that I’ve been a success with Sphinn. For one thing, I haven’t been in the top 20 in some time. On top of that, I don’t really use it with personal success as a goal. I see Sphinn for the most part as a place to share and discuss industry news. If it’s a question of getting posts to go hot, I generally only submit stories that I think will be of interest to a lot of people. Often, that’s largely a function of the piece’s author, and I want to stress that I don’t submit those stories with the goal of getting them to go hot. I just think they’ll be interesting to the community at large.

3) What other social networks do you participate in (Digg/clones, Facebook/LinkedIn/Myspace, Ning-type sites, forums, specific blogs you comment on a lot)? Can you share your usernames there, and what type of content you’d consider sharing with the other members of those sites as well what you wouldn’t pass on?

I’m a moderator at the High Rankings forum, where I go by qwerty, on StumbleUpon I’m robertik, I’m Gladstein at SEOmoz, on LinkedIn and Facebook I’m Bob Gladstein, and on reddit I’m rgladstein. I’m also rgladstein on Digg, but I rarely log in over there.

High Rankings is really the only place I “work” and that’s only to the extent that I’ve done a lot for my reputation by helping out there.

I don’t really use any of these sites to promote content. I’ve tried that a couple of times on Digg, but that hasn’t worked out too well. For example, a client of mine published a fairly large study a few months ago. I submitted it to Digg, and it was almost completely ignored — maybe two or three diggs. About a month later, Guy Kawasaki wrote about the study (which of course got us a pretty good jump in traffic), so I tried submitting his post to Digg, hoping people would digg it just for name recognition, and that those who clicked through to his site would then follow his link to my client’s. I think that got about five diggs.

Reddit is where I discuss the stuff you’re not supposed to discuss in polite company: religion, politics, etc. (although I often write about that stuff on my blog, too).

LinkedIn has been fairly useful to me, but mostly just in getting in touch with people. An old friend from college joined a couple of weeks ago, so I invited her to join my network. That led to a couple of emails, and it turns out she’s going to be in town for business next week, so we’re going to get together for drinks. Up until the LinkedIn invitation, we hadn’t had any contact at all in over twenty years.

4) What features (besides those announced, like “Mark as spam/Bury”) would you like to see on Sphinn?

I’d like to see who voted a comment up or down.

5) Are you a socialist or a medium? [A weak attempt at playing on 'social media' that no one I asked this of understood. = bad joke]

Are you asking about my politics and my method for contacting the dead? Can’t I be both?

6) Define the term: “Sphinn doctor.” [Ditto]

I’d say that’s someone who’s skilled at working the system, by building a list of friends they can count on to sphinn their content, writing the kind of content that they know people will jump on, either out of respect, support, or controversy. Basically, it’s someone who is good at using the site as a tool for self-promotion. You could call that gaming the system rather than working it, but I think that would unnecessarily inject the concept of ethics and the question of what the real purpose of Sphinn is. In any case, I would not call myself a Sphinn doctor.

7) Besides only submitting their own stuff or only sphinning their own stuff, what are some common mistakes people make with social media?

I think some people are just too mercenary on social media sites, or they assume that everyone else is as mercenary as they are. I don’t personally see the value in becoming “buddies” with anyone and everyone I see.

8) Tell us a minimum 3 non-Sphinn items about yourself that people could use to catch your eye on Sphinn (i.e. to Sphinnbait you).

Well, non-Sphinn items about myself would probably be deleted from Sphinn if anyone submitted them, but I’m very interested in politics and the arts, particularly film (even though I never find time to go to the theatre anymore).

9) Which of Cialdini’s 6 principles do you feel most important to gaining influence and why? Can you share some anecdotes?

What, do you think I’ve got a marketing degree? I studied English Lit and the History of World Cinema. But I did some quick research on this Cialdini fellow (he didn’t really have an office under the seats of a stadium, did he?), and I’d have to say that, at least in my experience, reciprocation and authority seem to work for me. However, without having read Cialdini’s book, I’m looking at the definitions of the principles in a few different places, and they’re not all the same, so when I say that reciprocation and authority are most important, I’m referring to the definitions of the terms that can be found at http://www.marketingaprivatepractice.com/2006/04/what_it_takes_t.html and not the definitions at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Cialdini#Six_.E2.80.9CWeapons_of_Influence.22.

10) What is the future of social media?

I don’t pretend to know, but it’s big. And I find that curious, since for most users, the internet began with walled-in communities like AOL, which disappeared over the years as search grew in importance. Now, those communities are making a comeback. I imagine there’s a growing number of users who rarely venture outside of MySpace of Facebook.

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