For an author nothing is more exciting than being noticed and validated. On the web one of the greatest forms of that attention and validation comes from highly popular social bookmarking websites. Few things are more exciting than being noticed by a popular social bookmarking website. Slashdotting, a term first coined to describe the huge influx of traffic that came on the heels of a link from the tech website Slashdot has now grown to include many others sites. Fark, Digg, Reddit, and Twitter have joined the scene, along with others.
The moment the bookmark or link goes viral is the herald of that fleeting time of glory. It is that moment when the spotlight swivels to focus on you and for that one second you are the center of attention. The world is beating a path to your door, the comments come flooding in, the website traffic is through the roof–and then it is over. As fast as it came, it passes. You may be left with a few more steady readers, a few more interested followers, but mostly you are left with only the debris of the passing of the masses–the comments and views which eddy in their wake.
I have not participated in social bookmarking, but I have been the beneficial recepient of it, to a small degree. Once or twice an article of mine has been “Stumbled Upon.” This gave me a momentary modest boost in my website traffic and a brief warm and fuzzy feeling that my writing had actually been noticed. (Yes, my life has meaning!) Sadly, I have never (yet) been slashdotted, reddited or any other major event presaging a surging influx of traffic. Maybe someday. The world hasn’t ended yet.
Finding your writing in the spotlight on a major social bookmarking website is a thrilling experience, but I don’t personally partake in social bookmarking. I don’t have anything against social bookmarking, but it does fall under the adage of “Don’t do for yourself what others can do for you better.” I have a brother or two who use Reddit far more than I (my knowledge is more in passing than anything else) and if any of my writing were to be shared with such websites my brothers, or perhaps my mom, are better placed to facilitate such dissemination. Also, I am wary of spending my time building up a presence in social bookmarking when I could be spending that time writing material for other people to socially bookmark. I would share on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and all the other forms of social media that I do use in the hopes that people following me in those areas will find my content compelling enough to socially bookmark.
For any writer it is far, far, more important for them to focus on writing fantastic content that other people will want to bookmark and share. You can have a great name and high visibility on a social networking site and if your writing is poor that prominence of sharing isn’t going to do much good for your writing. But if you make a piece of writing that other people want to share then they will do all of the sharing work for you. Remember, in social bookmarking it is not all about you. It is about content, content, content! The quality of the content is all that matters. If my writing isn’t compelling enough to inspire members of my audience (on Facebook, Twitter, etc) to socially bookmark the content, then trying to madly socially bookmark myself probably won’t be very successful. The success of your writing spreading on social bookmarking sites depends much more on the high quality of the writing itself, not your social bookmarking skills. So don’t stress out over how well you can click those social bookmarking buttons. Instead, listen to your inner muse and create content that will have people social bookmarking your writing and beating a path to your door. Hey, the moment in the sun is fun, and maybe it will lead to something more.